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Twelve innovative ideas that can transform people's lives get a chance to shine
Have a look at this year's Big Idea's finalists at Innovation Showcase 2015

Check out these incredibly innovative ideas in healthcare, energy and education that were seeking investment at the Innovation Showcase this week. 

1. A device to make urinary catheterisation safer

University of Limerick spin-out Class Medical is a medical device company hoping to tackle an age-old problem with the Trans-Urethral Catheterisation Safety Syringe (TUCSS) valve.

This innovative medical device was built to improve patient safety and comfort when a urinary catheter is being put in place – a notoriously uncomfortable procedure that brings with it the risk of urethral injury.

With the pressure-sensitive TUCSS valve providing a visual cue, medical practitioners can ensure correct positioning of the catheter before inflating the anchoring balloon.

According to Class Medical CEO and co-founder Rory Mooney, there are over 300,000 injuries per year from improper urinary catheterisation. Using the TUCSS valve could help prevent these injuries, saving patients discomfort and saving the hospital from the cost of extended stays and potential litigation.

2. A platform to help public bodies deal with data

With a list of clients and projects including the National Open Data Portal, the Department of Justice, and the Environmental Protection Agency, Derilinx can confidently stake its claim as Ireland’s leading linked and open data company.

A spin-out from the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at NUI Galway, Derilinx has developed a platform to help public sector bodies make effective use of and gain valuable insights from their data. Derilinx helps these organisations identify, catalogue and enrich high-quality ‘clean’ data that can then be used for visualisation, modelling and analytics.

Internationally, there’s a big push for public bodies to publish open data for innovation and transparency reasons, and also to better use and govern internal data. This gives Derilinx the potential to go global and, in Ireland and the UK alone, its target market comprises 74 government departments, 650 public agencies and 490 local authorities.

3. A better look at financial modelling for renewable energy projects

Financial modelling for renewable energy projects can be costly and, according to Exceedence CEO Ray Alcorn, no current solution gives all of the key players a proper ‘big picture’ view.

That’s why his company has purpose-built software to provide a ‘helicopter view’ for these projects, helping to assess whether they will make or lose money, and to identify and manage risks effectively.

Exceedence’s software gives everyone involved in the project the ability to work off the same transparent, integrated view of the plan. The software works in 21 different currencies, enabling comparisons between projects around the world, whether for wind, wave or tidal energy, while future development will also bring photovoltaic projects into the mix.

Currently, €200bn is spent per year on renewable energy projects globally and, according to Exceedence, at least 4,000 companies around the world could make use of this software.

4. Painless screening for urinary reflux in children

When Kite Medical CEO Sarah Loughney spent time with clinicians working with kids with urinary reflux, she witnessed first-hand the difficulties young patients have during the procedure to diagnose this condition.

A voiding cystourethrogram (VCUG) requires a radiologist and the insertion of a urethral catheter in order to fill and then empty the bladder while observing the urination process via an X-ray.

Kite Medical’s device is an easier, non-invasive and less traumatic method of diagnosis. It is worn as a belt during urination to screen for reflux, while follow-up care can also be monitored using this device.

Up to 1m children should be referred for VCUG but, according to Kite Medical CTO Chris Nelson, there is only 40pc compliance due to the invasiveness of the procedure. Thus, the condition is often missed or diagnosed late when the child is at risk of permanent kidney damage.

5. Cybersecurity assurance for medical devices

Homeland famously presented the world with the scenario of malicious hackers tapping into pacemakers and, though an attack of this nature has never been recorded, controlled hacks carried out on implantable devices have demonstrated vulnerabilities that can be exploited.

Like anything connected via technology, medical devices need to be secure. In fact, last October, the US Food and Drug Administration published cybersecurity requirements medical device manufacturers would have to meet prior to placing a product on the market.

This has led to the development of SelectEvidence from Nova Leah.

SelectEvidence is intelligent software that helps medical device manufacturers implement FDA and EU cybersecurity requirements in a traceable, manageable and auditable way. Using SelectEvidence, manufacturers can accelerate risk analysis and reduce the time to market for new products.

6. More efficient wind energy transfer

While renewables – particularly wind – are increasingly contributing to our national grid, the system simply was not built to integrate energy from these sources. This means that transferring wind energy to the grid is inefficient, resulting in energy losses as well as lost revenue for energy providers.

Constructing new infrastructure to accommodate the transfer of renewable energy can be expensive, but NovoGrid has an alternative software-based solution

NovoGrid’s software works with existing infrastructure to improve the efficiency of local energy integration. Using an algorithm to analyse local network conditions, NovoGrid autonomously chooses the appropriate operating set point for efficient transfer, so there’s no need for central control or communications.

Inefficient delivery of energy from wind farms can result in an estimated loss of €2.3bn per year for wind farmers around the world, but NovoGrid claims its software can boost the annual energy production of an individual wind farm by 1-2pc.

7. A new take on tackling hypothermia

Fresh from success at the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Awards, Kieran Normoyle from Limerick start-up Ocean Survivor will be showcasing his hypothermia-fighting marine equipment at the 2015 Innovation Showcase.

Back in 2013, Normoyle was shortlisted for the James Dyson Award for his Hydros invention, which has evolved into Core Degree (stylised as Core°).

This wearable protection system for divers helps to mitigate the effects of hypothermia by transferring heat to the body’s core and vital organs, setting it apart from existing approaches that focus on layering levels of clothing and using the wet/dry suit effects. Core Degree is about replenishing heat rather than reducing heat loss, using a base-layer harness, heat pack and activation mechanism that switches on when submerged in water.

Ocean Survivor’s target customers are those in the oil and gas industry, which has the highest requirment for PPE, but the product also has potential in renewable energy, fishing, defence and leisure.

8. A minimally invasive device to treat BPH

In benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the prostate gland enlarges and compresses the urethra, resulting in frequent urination, weak urinary flow and, in severe cases, kidney failure. The medication to treat this condition has unwanted side effects, while a surgical solution involves general anaesthetic, catheterisation and, typically, three days in hospital.

ProVerum Medical’s eponymous device is built to expand the urethra and can be implanted under local anaesthetic . This unique device is made using a biocompatible material and structure to ensure that it will not migrate or become encrusted.

BPH affects up to 60pc of men over the age of 50 and approximately 1.2m surgeries are performed per year in the US and Europe.

Cadaver studies and a proof-of-concept pre-clinical study have been completed, and a provisional patent application has been filed as ProVerum Medical prepares to spin-out from its research home at Trinity College Dublin in early 2016.

9. A sensored splint to track and measure teeth grinding

According to SelfSense Technologies, at least 20pc of the population grind their teeth at night without even realising it, which can damage teeth and lead to facial pain.

Many patients can wear a night-guard splint or mouthpiece to protect their teeth or facial muscles from further damage, and around 10m of these splints are made in the EU and US every year. SelfSense Technologies has decided to use this as a method of gathering data.

Selfsense’s SmartSplint is a wearable splint device that uses inbuilt sensors to measure the forces being exerted on teeth during grinding and where those forces are being applied. Data from the SmartSplint device is then analysed using SelfSense’s proprietary algorithms.

The information that SmartSplint provides will enable dentists to plan and discuss personalised treatments with patients.

10. Innovating on a 2,000-year old treatment for perianal fistula

Approximately 146,000 perianal fistula procedures are carried out in the US and western Europe each year with costs ranging between $4,800 and $14,500 per patient.

Perianal fistulae can arise following an infection of a gland in the rectum, resulting in an abscess and infection. In this challenging area, the fistula track is inherently difficult to heal and patients are known to suffer recurrent infection.

The ‘seton’ method most commonly used today (in which a rubber band allows the tract to drain and prevents the abscess re-occuring) is similar to a treatment proposed by Hippocrates more than 2,000 years ago, so, evidently, this is an area crying out for innovation.

Enter Signum Surgical and its small implant to close the internal opening of the fistula tract, preventing re-infection and promoting healing of the tract, while maintaining the continence of the patient. The implant is also designed to be easy to deliver, with minimal surgical skill required.

11. Improving access for keyhole surgery

Obstructive organs are a common challenge in laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery, often overcome by placing patients in a steep, head-down Trendelenburg position, utilising a combination of gravity and forceps to manipulate or retract those organs in the way. This can significantly increase the risk of complications in surgery while existing retraction products are insufficient, requiring invasive insertion.

Sive Medical’s SecuRetract, on the other hand, is a minimally invasive disposable retractor providing more effective and less damaging access for surgeons. This patent-pending technology minimises trauma on entry with a thinner instrument port requirement, eliminating the risk of injury to internal organs.

Suitable for use in as much as one-third of the millions of laparoscopic procedures performed worldwide, SecuRetract has already lined up a cohort of enthusiastic clinicians ready to be early adopters. The company behind it all, Sive Medical, is set to spin out from University College Cork in early 2016.

Conor O'Shea - CTO, Sive Medical

12. Software to assess children’s reading ability

When Patricia Scanlon was helping her daughter learn to read, she struggled to find satisfactory reading skills technology. So, with a background in speech-recognition technology research and machine learning, she set about developing software to enable better automated reading assessments for children.

Now CEO of Soapbox Labs, Scanlon’s technology ‘listens’ to children reading aloud and analyses their speech. The software can then personalise an online reading lesson to match the child’s ability, while also helping teachers to identify children who could benefit from learning intervention.

This robust speech-recognition technology is built using a unique database of captured reading sounds from young children all over the world in a range of real acoustic environments and using a range of devices. It can be used even in a noisy environment, such as a classroom, and is intelligent enough to address sub-word units such as phonic and blended sounds as well as words.

The software is currently undergoing trials in schools in Ireland and Soapbox Labs is in talks with several SMEs and publishing organisations.

This story was writen by Elaine Burke and published in Silicon Republic. Read the full version here

Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneurs revealed
24-year-old James Foody of Ayda has been named as Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, winning a €50,000 investment fund for his business through Local Enterprise Office South Cork. Congratulations to James and all! 

Pictured (l-r) are: Tom Hayes, Enterprise Ireland; Sheelagh Daly, Local Enterprise Offices; James Keogh, winner of Best Established Business 2015; James Foody, Ireland's Best Young Entrepreneur 2015; Blaine Doyle, winner of Best Business Idea 2015 and Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D.

24-year-old James Foody of Ayda has been named as Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur, winning a €50,000 investment fund for his business through Local Enterprise Office South Cork. 

The Minister for Jobs, Richard Bruton T.D. made the announcement in front of 360 guests at the IBYE national final, held at Google’s European Headquarters in Dublin on Sunday, December 6th 2015.

Foody, whose business is based in Glanmire and San Francisco, co-founded Ayda, a Female Health Tech company in 2015 after finishing his Masters in Biomedical Engineering Research. The company’s mobile phone app is being designed to help women track fertility levels and a wearable fertility tracker solution is also being developed, for launch mid-2016.

The Health Tech entrepreneur, who is supported by Local Enterprise Office South Cork, also took the ‘Best Start Up’ award at the competition, which attracted 1,400 competitors when it was launched by An Taoiseach and Minister Bruton earlier this year.

Supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Enterprise Ireland, the nationwide competition is organised through the Local Enterprise Offices and forms part of the Action Plan for Jobs 2015 with an overall investment fund of €2 million awarded to county winners and national winners.

Minister Bruton also announced two other category winners at this year’s awards: the ‘Best New Idea’ award and €20,000 investment prize went to Blaine Doyle (age 24) of GlowDX in Kilkenny and the ‘Best Established Business’ award and €30,000 investment prize went to James Keogh (age 29) from Rathwood in Wicklow.

GlowDx in the ‘Best Business Idea’ category is a diagnostics company which is setting out to diagnose neglected tropical diseases more cheaply in developing countries. Winning the ‘Best Established Business’ award, Rathwood is renowned for its year-round themed events and the retail entertainment company welcomes over 250,000 visitors every year and employs nearly 200 people.

The Google award for ‘Best Online Promotion of Business’ went to Isolde Johnson of The Cool Bean Company in Dublin City, which develops a range of healthy meals under the Cool Beans consumer brand. Each of the winners will now be offered a place at the Google ‘Adopt a Startup’ programme in 2016.

In all, 24 finalists from 17 counties competed for the overall title and 9 of them made a live pitch to the judging panel in the final round at the Foundry in Google. This year’s judging panel included Sarah Doyle of Kinesense, Brian Crowley of the TTM Group, Colin Goulding of Google, Christine Charlton of the Local Enterprise Offices and Tom Hayes of Enterprise Ireland.

Details for all the finalists are available at and by searching #ibye on social media and YouTube. The National Final for the IBYE competition was supported by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, the network of Local Enterprise Offices, Enterprise Ireland and Google.


Beats Medical wins Google’s Adopt a Start-up programme

Ciara Clancy’s Beats Medical has won €10,000 worth of AdWords credit after the Parkinson’s treatment company came out on top in Google’s Adopt a Start-up programme.

Pictured (L-R): Ciara Clancy from Beats Medical with Colin Goulding of Google Ireland’s start-up programme Pic. Shane O’Neill

Ciara Clancy’s Beats Medical has won €10,000 worth of AdWords credit after the Parkinson’s treatment company came out on top in Google’s Adopt a Start-up programme.

Seeing off competition from 31 other businesses – including the likes of CoderDojo and Glofox – Beats Medical took top prize after Ciara Clancy’s seven-minute pitch on her company’s developed digital strategy was judged the best of the bunch.
This isn’t the first time Clancy has been recognised for her achievements, she was named Laureate for Europe at the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards in October.

Clancy worked for several years with sufferers of Parkinson’s in Ireland, both as a physiotherapist and volunteer. She launched Beats Medical in 2012, which sports a smartphone app that provides ‘specialised cueing treatment’ for Parkinson’s patients, which is basically soundwave treatment that enables people to regain mobility.

Beats Medical was accepted to Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start Ups class of companies in 2013.

The story was first published on the Silicon Republic website. Read more here

Video: Ciara Clancy - Laureate for Europe at the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards in October 2015 

Video: Ciara Clancy - Laureate for Europe at the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards in October 2015

Alternative sources of finance for Irish SMEs

Last Friday Minister Simon Harris officially launched the Independent Finance Providers Ireland (IFPI) at a special event hosted by Enterprise Ireland. 

Niall O’Donnellan, Head of Investment services, Enterprise Ireland; Junior Finance Minister Simon Harris; John Power, chairman IFPI; Natalya Kane, financial controller, KC Peaches. Photo: Paul Sherwood.

Last Friday Minister Simon Harris officially launched the Independent Finance Providers Ireland (IFPI) at a special event hosted by Enterprise Ireland at their East Point headquarters.

The Independent Finance Providers Ireland group will promote and represent finance providers who are already operating in Ireland but may not be part of the domestic banking industry.

IFPI counts 16 members companies including the likes of invoice finance group Bibby Financial Services and peer-to-peer lender Grid Finance.

Chairman John Power said that the organisation aims to make small and medium businesses aware that there are other options for securing capital besides the pillar banks.

The group also released a study to coincide with the launch. The survey of almost 600 companies found that 96% expect to expand next year, with 37% expecting to require funding for their growth. 46% reported issues accessing finance, with more than half saying Irish banks are "very cautious" about lending.

Read related articles:

Alternative finance body aims to fill the funding gap for SMEs – Irish Independent

SMEs prepare for growth but access to finance still an issue – The Irish Times

John Power's presentation at the launch of Independent Finance Providers Ireland on the 3rd of December 2015. 

MTN partners with Digital Skills Academy to drive their transformation
The Digital Skills Academy, which was established in 2008 in response to a growing gap in formal online digital technology training, has won a major contract to train employees at South African’s largest telecoms firm, MTN.

Pictured at the partnership signing were left to right: Mteto Nyati, CEO of MTN SA and Paul Dunne, CEO and Founder of Digital Skills Academy. 

Digital Skills Academy, the Dublin headquartered provider of world-leading accredited online International Bachelor of Science Degrees in Digital Skills, today announced that South Africa's largest telecommunications company, MTN, has partnered with Digital Skills Academy to upskill their corporate teams in Africa. This follows Digital Skills Academy’s partnerships with South Africa’s number one retail bank, Standard Bank, and the leading South African andglobal professional services firm, KPMG to support the digital transformation of these companies.

With a newly opened office in Johannesburg, South Africa, Digital Skills Academy, which is an Enterprise Ireland supported company, has facilitated this international expansion by making the transition from the traditional model of classrooms to a fully online environment, pioneering the latest developments in online learning and virtual team-working technologies to deliver its innovative digital industry-linked programmes globally. This transition has enabled Digital Skills Academy to offer their Internationally-recognised programmes to participants from all over the world - opening up a unique opportunity for the exchange of ideas on a global scale.

Commenting on Digital Skills Academy’s international expansion, Paul Dunne, Founder & CEO of Digital Skills Academy, said: “Our unique learning process requires participants to work in cross-functional virtual teams on industry-assigned digital projects – the skills required to work in these types of teams is a skillset increasingly sought after by employers globally. We are very pleased to work with South Africa’s largest telecommunications company to help unlock the digital skills potential of its corporate teams.”

Read more here

Chanelle Group named Top Achiever

Chanelle Group from Galway who has been crowned the overall winner of the Ulster Bank Business Achievers Awards. Congratulations! 

Pictured (L-R) are: Eddie Cullen, Ulster Bank; Michael Burke, Chanelle Group; jobs minister Richard Bruton and Paul Stanley, Ulster Bank

Pharma company Chanelle Group, nominated under the International Business category, claimed the overall Ulster Bank Business Achiever 2015.

Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Ltd specialises in the development, production, marketing and distribution of generic animal and human pharmaceutical products. The company has over 1,600 animal health licenses registered worldwide – the largest number of registered veterinary licenses of any company in Europe. Chanelle Group have a growing customer base in over 80 countries worldwide, with key markets in EU, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa and the Middle East. Chanelle Group currently employees 350 employees.

Run in association with the Irish Independent, Enterprise Ireland and InterTradeIreland, a total of 676 companies entered this year’s awards, the highest number ever.

Michael Burke, MD of Chanelle Group, said: “This is a fantastic recognition of the hard work by our teams and dedicated employees, without whom this success would not be possible.”

The story was first published in the Read the completer article here.

Innovation Showcase 2015 a great success
More than 2000 people from the world of business, science and research attended the second annual Innovation Showcase which connects industry with State supports, science and technology communities...

Pictured (L-R): Nick Campbell, Professor of Phonetics and Speech Sciences, Trinity College; Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD; Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland

More than 2000 people from the world of business, science and research attended yesterday’s second annual Innovation Showcase at Convention Centre Dublin. Connecting industry with State supports, science and technology communities, the event was officially opened by Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD who also launched the updated Directory of Research Centres and Technology Centres.

A key feature of the Showcase was the Enterprise Ireland “Big Ideas” Session introduced by Julie Sinnamon, CEO of Enterprise Ireland. 12 promoters from investor-ready start-ups took to the centre stage to give a 2 minute pitch to investors with MC Paul Cunningham from RTE. Previous participants have secured significant investments following their “Big Ideas” presentations and have gone on to achieve global success. This was followed by 3 keynote industry speakers - Frank Wilson from Ceramicx, Julie Spillane from Accenture and Bill Kearney from IBM - who talked about how their companies have benefited from the use of innovation supports in growing their businesses.

Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD said: “Collaboration is the catalyst for successful innovation. We want to connect business with publicly funded researchers and the supports available to help entrepreneurs to grow their business and create jobs in Ireland. We want those who are new to research collaboration to explore all the options available to them and we want those who have existing connections within the research system to engage further and take advantage of all the supports available”.

Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland said: “The Big Ideas Session is an exciting illustration of the world-class research taking place in universities and institutes of technology in Ireland. The quality of new companies is very high, all of whom I am sure will be keen to secure investment and replicate the success of previous years’ participants including nearForm, OxyMem and SilverCloud Health who have gone on to achieve success internationally”.

Organised on behalf of the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation by Enterprise Ireland and supported by IDA Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland, the aim of the Showcase is to achieve significant economic impacts through increased engagement between the public research system and industry. Also central to the Showcase is Knowledge Transfer Ireland who were on hand to demonstrate the range of resources that make it simple for industry to do business with Ireland’s research base.
This year’s Innovation Showcase hosted the launch of Innovation 2020, Ireland’s 5-year strategy for research and development, science and technology by the Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, together with the Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD and the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD.

Innovation Showcase 2015 #InnovateIE Storify by Braithwaite Ireland

Enterprise Ireland backs 2020 R&D target

Innovation 2020 Full and Key Messages

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