Three Irish women-led start-ups selected for EU deep-tech pilot

2 Mar 2022

Image: © Leika production/

Xtremedy Medical, Kids Speech Labs and Konree Innovation are the three women-led Irish businesses set to receive EU funding.

Three Irish start-ups have been selected by the EU among 50 women-led deep-tech companies that will receive funding and mentorship.

First announced last July, the Women TechEU scheme is a new pilot programme that aims to support women-led deep-tech businesses with grants of €75,000 and a mentorship scheme made available through the European Innovation Council’s Women Leadership Programme.

Future Human

The first 50 start-ups to be selected for the programme were announced yesterday (1 March). They will now be backed by Horizon Europe, the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation until 2027.

The 50 start-ups represent 15 countries and more than 40 are based in EU member states.

The list includes companies that have developed cutting-edge innovations across a range of areas such as early cancer diagnosis and treatments, reducing the negative impact of methane, and meeting the sustainable development goals of tackling the climate crisis and empowering women.

“The high number of outstanding applications confirms there is a need for women in deep-tech to get support for their companies at the early, riskiest stage,” said Mariya Gabriel, EU commissioner for innovation, research, culture, education and youth.

Women TechEU is part of a series of measures to boost the number of women in innovation and entrepreneurship. Another is the EU Prize for Women Innovators, which also recently recognised a number of Irish entrepreneurs.

Irish start-ups

Kids Speech Labs, Konree Innovation and Xtremedy Medical are the three businesses based in Ireland to be selected.

Kids Speech Labs, founded by Shona and Gordon D’Arcy in 2018, is a software company that has built technology to help children in their speech and language development. Shona is the CEO of the start-up, which is supported by Enterprise Ireland.

It has built an app called Share that automates the assessment of speech skills in children. The data-driven tool aims to reduce reliance on in-person therapy by replicating existing practices and personalising services for individual families based on their needs.

Konree Innovation is a marine-tech start-up that is building technology to remove barriers to salmon production growth in a climate-friendly manner.

It employs artificial intelligence and machine learning to outsmart the biological infestation strategy of the sea louse – a parasite that affects salmon and other fish, impacting production. Konree was founded by Margaret Rae and is based in Co Galway.

Finally, Xtremedy Medical is a medtech based at NUI Galway that makes surgical devices to address bone and deep tissue infections by delivering electric signals through wounds – both at the surface and below, to zap any residual infection.

In November, Xtremedy was crowned the winner of the Big Ideas 2021 showcase. The company, founded by Dr Lyn Markey and Camille O’Malley, was one of 12 Irish research-based start-ups pitching their ideas at the Enterprise Ireland event.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic