From cell therapy platforms and novel cancer detection techniques to making healthcare accessible, here are some of the many Irish-founded start-ups to follow.
Ireland has carved a niche for itself within Europe as a pioneer in health-tech research and innovation at all levels, from early-stage companies to global powerhouses that call the island home.
To mark an end to Future Health Week, we take a closer look at some of the many budding and growing Irish-founded health-techs that are making themselves known through awards, accelerators and expansions abroad.
From creating new ways of detecting cancer to making accessing healthcare research and clinical trials easier, here are some of the start-ups founded by Irish entrepreneurs to keep an eye on.
When it comes to creating a start-up in the healthcare space, it’s not just about innovating new ways to treat patients or make people’s lives healthier. The process of simplifying access to healthcare for patients and professionals is equally important. And that’s exactly what Biologit has set out to do.
Founded in 2021 by pharmacovigilance specialist Nicole Baker and tech expert Bruno Ohana, Dublin-based Biologit has been helping companies automate the monitoring of scientific literature. With its roots in Trinity College Dublin, where the technology was first incubated, Biologit was part of Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme, in which Baker participated in 2019. She then went on to participate in Big Ideas 2020.
Earlier this year, Biologit announced plans to “at least double” its team in 2023 following a successful €2m funding round led by Enterprise Ireland.
One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point in their life – and an ageing population is only set to increase this figure. Epicapture is a non-invasive cancer detection and monitoring start-up that spun out of UCD in 2021 to make prostate cancer testing easier.
Founded by Dr Antoinette Perry and Edward Simons, Epicapture uses a patient’s urine to determine whether or not they have prostate cancer by running a test on PCR machines, known for their use in Covid-19 testing. It has previously been awarded €100,000 through the Enterprise Ireland HPSU pre-seed fund. Earlier this year, Epicapture was one of two Irish start-ups to be named overall winners of this year’s eHealth Embark programme run by Dundalk IT.
Haon Life Sciences
In October, Haon Life Sciences was one of two Irish start-ups, the other being Myndgard, that were selected as finalists at the European Wild Card competition focused on children’s health that was hosted by EIT Health. Founded last year, Haon has built a novel cell therapy platform with potential to treat paediatric and adult diseases with high unmet need. The lead candidate is an intranasal treatment for neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, a disease which primarily affects newborns and is one of the leading causes of neonatal deaths worldwide.
Co-founded by Athlone native Jack O’Meara along with Quin Wills in 2019, Ochre Bio is working to improve the viability of donor livers by testing RNA treatments on donated human livers that can be kept alive for several days inside the lab. These therapy treatments aim to regenerate poor quality donor livers to give more people access to quality organs for transplants.
In October last year, Ochre Bio raised $30m in a Series A funding round to help test for these treatments. The start-up plans to conduct human liver pre-clinical testing throughout 2023 to help determine which therapies should move into clinical development in 2024. More recently, O’Meara was one of the Irish names included in the Forbes’ latest 30 under 30 list this year.
Recently featured as a Start-up of the Week, SeamlessCare is a health-tech company focused on enhancing communication and support for people with a wide range of disabilities such as autism, acquired brain injury and dementia. Last year, the UCD spin-out raised €700,000 to speed up the roll-out of its assistive tech, including Empathic, which was in a closed beta at this stage. It was among 11 research-based high-potential start-ups backed by Enterprise Ireland in 2021.
SeamlessCare was co-founded by Dr Aviva Cohen, an award-winning entrepreneur who was a philosophy lecturer, Ian Kennedy and Dr Çağrı Çubukçu. Last year, it launched Empathic, a unique technology to support interactions with people who have no other means of communication.
Similar to Biologit, Whyze Health is not actually innovating any new way to treat people. Instead, the Dublin-based start-up is hoping to change Ireland’s relatively poor track record in attracting clinical trials, when compared to similar-sized countries such as Denmark and Finland.
Launched in 2021, Whyze Health was co-founded by Prof Frank Sullivan and Frances Abeton to bring technology into the equation in the hopes to solve the dual problems of digitisation and awareness. The platform built by the high-potential start-up is aimed at both patients and physicians and uses data to provide individualised insights into health progress as well as access to the latest treatments.
Founded in 2020 and based in Galway, Xtremedy Medical is a medtech start-up developing a medical device and platform technology to treat infection wounds using a method known as pulsed field ablation, or PFA. This treatment option creates electric fields in the wound at the end of any surgery to kill residual bacteria and speed up the healing process.
Founders Lyn Markey and Camille O’Malley first met at the BioInnovate Ireland fellowship programme in 2018, as part of the orthopaedics team. Since its founding, Xtremedy has won Enterprise Ireland’s Big Ideas 2021 showcase and received significant Government funding through the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. Earlier this year, it emerged victorious at the MedTech Innovator pitch event in Dublin, bagging a spot on the prestigious accelerator.
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