5 investor-ready UCD start-ups vying for the 2020 VentureLaunch crown

26 Nov 2020

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Following a two-month remote accelerator programme, five UCD VentureLaunch start-ups are preparing to pitch their business plans.

Next week, five emerging start-ups based at University College Dublin (UCD) will pitch their business plans for a chance to be crowned winner of the VentureLaunch accelerator programme.

The annual accelerator is run by NovaUCD, the UCD start-up hub. This year, however, the entire programme was conducted remotely.

The aim of VentureLaunch is to give participating start-ups the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to launch and lead a new commercial venture. After a series of workshops delivered over the course of two months, each start-up is expected to emerge with a commercially viable business plan. This is what each of this year‘s five start-ups will present at the virtual final on 2 December.

An overall winner will be selected by a judging panel including Dr Helen McBreen from Atlantic Bridge, Denis Dudley from AIB, Caroline Gaynor from Lightstone Ventures, Dr Sean Baker from NDRC, John O’Sullivan from ACT Venture Capital, and some of NovaUCD’s entrepreneurs in residence.

As well as competing for the top VentureLaunch prize, these start-ups are all currently seeking seed investment of several million euro between them. Four of the five (AquaB, Epicapture, Recsyslabs and SeamlessCare) are currently being supported through the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund.

AquaB Nanobubble Innovations

AquaB Nanobubble Innovations has developed an energy-efficient way to generate nanobubbles, which could have multiple commercial applications in sectors such as food and agriculture, gas storage, biopharma, brewing, disinfection and wastewater treatment. In this last case, AquaB’s high-efficiency nanobubble generation for wastewater won an IChemE Global Award earlier this month.

AquaB’s method is based on research carried out by Prof Niall English and Dr Mohammad Reza Ghaani at UCD’s School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering. Now CEO and CTO of the company, respectively, the two men are out to commercialise their method of generating and releasing substantial volumes of metastable, nano-scale gas bubbles in aqueous solutions.


Epicapture has set out to develop a simple urine test to detect prostate cancer. Dr Antoinette Perry will be pitching the idea at the VentureLaunch event on behalf of her team at the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science.

The Epicapture test measures six epigenetic biomarkers that are indicative of aggressive prostate cancer, using a widely available PCR platform. This novel urine DNA test has potential as a non-invasive screening test to augment the current PSA blood test for the early detection of aggressive prostate cancer. A second application is as a repeated use monitoring tool for men with low-grade disease, to identify tumour progression.

Joyst Instruments

A recent Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week, UCD spin-out Joyst Instruments is developing an instrument that enables musicians to expand their musical range with gaming-style joysticks. The engineers claim these precision analogue joysticks allow for unprecedented pitch-bending and note articulation effects.

The company stems from the final-year project of electronic and computer engineering student Philip Snell. Snell later joined forces with Dr Paul Cuffe, assistant professor at UCD’s School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and engineering graduates Will Langrell and Ed Byrne. As well as the VentureLaunch accelerator, Joyst participated in the NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition this summer.


Dr Ernesto Diaz-Aviles, Dr Claudia Orellana-Rodriguez and Dr Igor Brigadir are the founders of Recsyslabs, a start-up developing artificial intelligence (AI) that can deliver tailored newsletters based on the reader’s identified interests. Based in the UCD School of Computer Science, Recsyslabs’ recommendations engine aims to be easy for publishers to integrate and easy for users to see why specific content was recommended.

The platform is fully compliant with US and European privacy regulations and neither collects nor stores personally identifiable information. The goal is to deliver technology that will help publishers to enhance their revenue streams and better identify reader segments.


The SeamlessCare team includes Dr Aviva Cohen from the UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, along with Ian Kennedy and Dr Çağrı Çubukçu. This start-up is developing four application programming interfaces (APIs) to improve life for people with intellectual disability, dementia and a range of complex needs.

SeamlessCare’s APIs can be used together as an integrated system or individually and independent of one another. The applications are also built for interoperability with other digital systems used in healthcare using the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources framework created by HL7, an international standards body for the sharing of electronic health information.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.