NUI Galway’s innovation community continued to excel in 2020 despite the challenges of COVID 19

Dec 18 2020 Posted: 17:47 GMT

Over 40 research and innovation projects addressing COVID-19 challenges
Over 40 new collaborations with industry
Four new spin-outs
NUI Galway responds to COVID19 with over 40 research and innovation projects, engages in 40 new projects with industry, and spins-out four new deep-tech companies

Despite the numerous challenges of 2020, the research and start-up community at NUI Galway continued to thrive – garnering multiple awards, securing funding, and supporting entrepreneurship among students and the wider community.

Supported by the University’s Innovation Office, the year featured over 40 substantial research collaborations with SMEs, indigenous industry, and multinational corporations - as well as the formation of new four spin-outs based on ICT, engineering and life science technologies developed at NUI Galway.  

In addition, the university charted over 40 research and innovation projects directly responding to the challenges of the global pandemic.

David Murphy, Director of Technology Transfer and Innovation, NUI Galway, said: “The successes achieved in 2020 are a validation of the strength of our industry partnerships, the quality of our research, and the strength of our innovation communities at NUI Galway. While the pandemic presented many challenges, our team, our researchers, our entrepreneurs, and the companies we work with responded with determination and agility in what was a very unusual environment.”

Some of the highlights of the year included:

Multiple awards

  • NUI Galway was named winner of the Knowledge Transfer Impact Awards Covid-19 Response Award for supporting, with industry partners Cisco and IBM, the ICU FamilyLink project at University Hospital Galway (UHG). The project connects patients, families and the clinical teams providing care in the constraints of the ICU setting.
  • Galenband, pioneers of an unobtrusive wrist-worn device which records heart activity, was the ultimate winner at Big Ideas - Enterprise Ireland’s annual showcase of start-up innovation emerging from higher education institutes. Four of the 12 investor-ready companies pitching on the day were NUI Galway start-ups.
  • Seven NUI Galway start-ups were shortlisted for the National Start-up Awards in 2020, with Galenband achieving Gold in the Medtech Startup category for their system to dramatically increase detection rates of atrial fibrillation. VorTech Water Solutions secured silver in the ‘Emerge Tech Startup Category” for their innovative, cost effective solutions in water and wastewater, and Feeltect achieved Bronze the Medtech Startup category for their wearable, connected health technology to measure and monitor sub-bandage pressure during compression therapy.
  • Women’s health start-up Nua Surgical was named the overall winner of the 2020 InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Based out of NUI Galway, Nua Surgical’s flagship product is SteriCision, a self-retaining retractor specifically designed for C-sections. 
  • NUI Galway start-ups Vortech Water Solutions and HidraMed Solutions have been shortlisted for the annual Irish Times Innovation Awards.
  • Three NUI Galway start-ups, Feeltech, Nua Surgical, BlueDrop Medical, were among the 2020 winners of Health Innovation Hub Ireland’s (HIHI) call for innovative ideas from companies, start-ups and SMEs. 

Funding Successes

  • NUI Galway researchers and company partners were awarded over €10.3 million in Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund(DTIF), a fund established under Project Ireland 2040. Two of the funded projects will see teams at NUI Galway partnering with AuriGen Medical, an NUI Galway spin-out company specialising in electrophysiology and structural heart, dedicated to transforming the management of persistent atrial fibrillation. A third DTIF supported project will see the collaboration between teams at the NUI Galway Centre for Cell Manufacturing (CCMI) and ONK Therapeutics Ltd, a Business Innovation Centre client company and spin-out.
  • Aquila Bioscience, a medical technology spin-out from NUI Galway, successfully proved that its breakthrough Pathogen Capturing Technology safely removes 99.99% of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19) from human skin. The company also secured €1.9m in from the European Innovation Council.
  • BioProbe Diagostics, a spin out company from Microbiology at NUI Galway, is the lead partner in an industry consortium awarded approximately €2m to advance one of the company’s products to market, namely Bio Lp-1, under the European Commission’s ‘Fast Track to Innovation’ funding mechanism.
  • Dr Alison Liddy of NUI Galway received a €1m prize for her work developing a solution to treat chronic pain as the inaugural winner of the SFI Future Innovator Prize.

Supporting entrepreneurship among students and the wider community

  • NUI Galway was awarded €7.5 million funding under the Human Capital Innovation and Agility Initiative for it’s ‘ASPIRE: Next Generation Graduates’ project which will lead in innovative, student-centred and enterprise-engaged education.
  • Together with itag, the University successfully launched a free structured coaching initiative for the female community covering many areas in all business environments – itag Coaching for Success .
  • LaunchPad has supported over 1000 studentinnovators across campus spanning 11 modules and 6 co-curricular programmes. LaunchPad secured funding through EIT Health in 2020 to run a Summer School ‘ENERGHY’ in partnership with Medicine San Frontiers, Sanofi, IS Global, the University of Barcelona and Hospital Sant Joan de Deu. 
  • LaunchPad, a partner of the Empowering Women in Health Entrepreneurship Project of EIT HEalth also hosted a module with the Karolinska Institute in May titled ‘Unlocking your Innovative Potential’, the module was attended by 60 participants from across 20 Countries.   
  • During October, LaunchPad, in partnership with BioInnovate Ireland and the JE Cairnes School of Business and Economics, ran its Ideas Academy Camp, attracting over 70 participants from schools across Ireland to develop innovations to support our community during Covid-19.

To read about some of the research and innovation projects relating to COVID-19 visit


Marketing and Communications Office


Featured Stories