Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Farmer's Yards to develop a new social organisation for the farming community University of Galway’s Rural Studies Centre is to lead a new social organisation for the farming community with a pilot initiative at Mountbellew Livestock Mart, Co Galway called Farmer's Yards. The pilot is funded by University of Galway’s Illuminate Programme with support from St Jarlath’s Credit Union.  Established as an opportunity to support individual farmers and fit the farming community’s collective interests, requirements and values, the initiative will run through March and April this year. Its aim is to promote social inclusion, and in turn wellbeing, in the farming community by providing farmers in the area with a platform to come together as a local peer group in a familiar and friendly mart setting.  The involvement of Mountbellew Livestock Mart in the Farmer’s Yards initiative is extremely important because in addition to its primary function providing a method of buying and selling livestock, the bidding ring and canteen at the mart also provides a vital social facility for the local farming community, particularly for those who have few other social outlets and may live alone.  The project is being led at University of Galway by Dr Shane Conway, who said: “Many farmers rely on their weekly visit to the mart to meet with their friends, exchange ideas and catch up on local news. Mountbellew Mart’s existing position and reputation as a focal point of activity within the heart of the rural community essentially provides it with a ready-made platform and network to diversify its services and establish a social group membership of farmers in its catchment area through this new initiative.  “The well-established Men's Sheds movement showcases the benefits of such a peer group at local level. The Rural Studies Centre at University of Galway believe that the Farmer's Yards social organisation for the farming community has just as much, if not more, potential to succeed. It is gender inclusive and it has an intergenerational aspect, bringing together men and women of all ages involved in farming in the form of a social hub for the entire farming community.”  As its name suggests, Farmer’s Yards enables farmers to take responsibility and ownership of their own social interactions. It provides them with an opportunity to come together in a secure and positive environment to chat about livestock and issues relevant to their livelihoods, as well as local news and other topics of interest over a complimentary cup of tea and biscuits the evenings the mart takes place. There will also be a weekly stock judging competition of cattle as well as guest speakers and demonstrations on a range of farmer focused topics such as understanding online mart bidding platforms, interpreting Euro-Star breeding indexes, options around farm succession and tips to improve physical health and wellbeing. Dr Conway added: “With more than one third of Irish farmers over the age of 65, this new social organisation for farmers, will also address recent calls by the European Commission for an increased emphasis on mechanisms that help older farmers enhance their quality of life by exploring possibilities under social policy.  “This is an important shift in focus, as previous policy aimed at stimulating generational renewal in agriculture, such as the most recent Early Retirement Scheme for farmers (ERS3) in Ireland, for example, requesting farmers to ‘cease all agricultural activity forever’ upon retirement and placed no regard on the wellbeing of the older generation of the farming, overlooking their identity and social circles in later life.” The Rural Studies Centre group at University of Galway said the Farmer's Yards initiative has the potential to contribute to the older farmer’s overall sense of happiness, belonging and self-worth, amidst the gradual decline of their physical capacities as they age. It will provide a social outlet for them to remain actively involved in the farming community, because for many, farming is a way of life, not just an occupation. Ends 

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

As 2022 drew to a close we recapped highlights from the year (and we could have done many more).  Three new companies have spun out of University of Galway this year, Elevre Medical, Luminate Medical and Relevium Medical (YC S22) are now official university spin-outs. In the last three years, 12 companies have been spun out of the university and we currently have almost 30 companies trading read about them here. University of Galway was a partner in 7 of the 14 Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) projects announced in recent months. Industry collaboration is integral to the DTIFs and spin-outs and start-ups collaborating and leading projects inlcude Luminate Medical FeelTect, Amara Therapeutics, XTremedy Medical, GlasPort Bio and InVera Medical University spin-out and Business Innovation Centre client Loci Orthopaedics secured €8m in funding and financial support from the European Commission, through the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator Programme. This grant and equity investment will be used to support a clinical trial on the company’s implant treatment for thumb arthritis, prior to full-scale commercialisation. EIC with its various EU commission grants also supported Aveta Medical, Sision Medical and InVera Medical this year. KTI Impact Awards recognise significant achievements in the commercialisation of publicly funded research nationwide. University of Galway was delighted to be nominated with spin-out Relevium Medical (YC S22) - who are developing a novel, disruptive, treatment for chronic pain - for the Future Forward Impact Award.  Relevium's CEO Alison Liddy, was also recognised with the Science Foundation Ireland Commercialisation Award. In November, the Innovation Office held the university's, and Ireland's, first-ever AIMday (Academic-Industry Meeting Day) on 30 November. The AIMday theme, Exploring Creative Innovations, focused on SME Creative Industries and their current challenges. AIMday is a model trademarked by Uppsala University and is used by almost 30 universities globally. Uppsala University and University of Galway are part of the ENLIGHT European University formed by nine comprehensive, research-intensive universities across Europe. Also bringing awards west was Fada Medical with Rob Wiley winning the 'Viewer's Choice' award for this pitch at Enterprise Ireland's Big Ideas 2022. The start-up is developing a novel diffusion technology to improve insulin delivery for people living with Type 1 diabetes. The second round of the University of Galway Illuminate Programme saw three new projects supported under the initiative. The Illuminate Programme is an ambitious new initiative that supports ground-breaking research in the areas of social science, arts and humanities that directly addresses the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Read about some of the ongoing projects here. Business Innovation Centre client GlasPort Bio were announced as winners of the Sustainability category in The Irish Times Innovation Awards. GlasPort Bio has developed a whole-cycle approach to Greenhouse Gas mitigation through a ruminant feed additive and manure additive. Aquila Bioscience teamed up with manufacturer Aurena Laboratories AB to develop its pathogen-capturing technology (PCT) into a sprayable format. Read more about spin-out Aquila's story here as they develop the world's first chemical-free product that captures and removes pathogens to protect against infectious diseases while preserving the environment. Culminating in May, we partnered once again with itag & itag Skillnet on Ireland’s annual tech community's Atlantec Festival which was a week-long mix of online and in-person events. To address a regional need of providing strong supports for the Life Science sector, funding was awarded to a newly formed CLG Western Innovation Life Science Hub under the Regional Enterprise Innovation Scoping Scheme 2022 supported by Enterprise Ireland. The company is a not-for-profit legal entity consisting of funding partners from University of Galway and the Western Development Commission (WDC). Its purpose is the development of a collaborative Regional Specialised Life Science Hub. This year saw the Innovation Office develop and deliver a new series of training supports for our research community, including staff and postgraduate research students. The Innovation Office Impact Series in the first half of the year was followed by the Innovation Office Impact Accelerator consisting of workshop-based activities, 1-2-1 mentoring and coaching. Luminate Medical, a University spin-out, had a busy year in hiring mode having raised more than $5m in grant financing and a seed round investment. The Business Innovation Centre client has grown its R&D team to 15 people with roles created in biomedical engineering, finite element analysis and product design. The award-winning start-up is developing medical devices that address the side effects of cancer treatment, such as hair loss. The Irish Medtech Awards are always a highlight and congrats to BioInnovate Ireland, based here at the University of Galway, for taking home the Collaboration in Medtech Award. Well done also to Galway-based CERENOVUS  for taking home Company of the Year Award. Rounding off our list was the launch of Construct Innovate on campus by An Tánaiste on 9 December. Supported by Enterprise Ireland and with a national network of partners and stakeholder members, Construct Innovate aims to modernise and advance the construction industry through growing skills and driving collaborative innovation.

Friday, 23 September 2022

CÚRAM launches White Paper exploring how MedTech researchers and research centres can work to help bridge the research-policy gap  CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, based at the University of Galway, has launched their ‘Science Advocacy in MedTech’ White Paper at a public event entitled Pathways to Policy. Key recommendations of the White Paper include the need for more training support for researchers in effectively communicating and engaging with policy audiences, raising awareness of the policymaking process in Ireland and internationally, and providing networking and knowledge exchange opportunities for researchers and policy audiences.  The White Paper was developed through a collaboration between CÚRAM and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at University of Galway. Emanating from six years of research at CÚRAM, the White Paper takes lessons learned in other countries and other research fields with more experience connecting their research to policy and practice, e.g. environmental science and social sciences.  Lead author, Dr Brendan Dolan explains: “One of our underlying drivers when developing this White Paper was to look to see how other fields, ones with perhaps more obvious links to policy development, work to connect their work with policy audiences, including political representatives, civil servants and community organisations. To this end, the project's interdisciplinary nature has proven incredibly beneficial. “We see Science Advocacy as active support of science, technology, engineering and maths, with researchers directly informing policy audiences about their research and engaging with the policymaking process. To this end, we focus more on individual researchers' role in advocating for their research.” The launch event brought together leading researchers and policymakers for keynote talks and a panel discussion on creating more effective research-policy interactions and collaborations.  The event was hosted by Professor Abhay Pandit, CÚRAM Scientific Director. High-profile speakers and panel participants for the event included University of Galway President Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh; Denis Naughten TD, Oireachtas Friends of Science & Technology; Kate Morris, Campus Engage; University of Galway Vice President Research and Innovation Professor Jim Livesey; Leonora Harty of the newly established Evidence for Policy Unit at the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science; and Dr Karen Doyle, CÚRAM Funded Investigator. Speaking at the event, University of Galway President, Professor Ciaran Ó hÓgartaigh said: “It is increasingly important that public policy be evidence-based and that our researchers are empowered to have a positive policy impact on society. True to our values of openness and excellence, our researchers will continue to break down barriers and connect with non-academic audiences so we can help create a better informed and engaged society.” Speaking at the event, Professor Abhay Pandit said: “National centres such as CÚRAM can begin to embed and develop a culture of science advocacy through providing training, networking and knowledge brokerage opportunities with policy audiences, incentives for science advocacy efforts, even simply through highlighting the work already carried out by their researchers in this realm. The research-policy ecosystem needs more pathways to policy for researchers, but efforts are being made to bridge this gap.” The full White Paper and a two-page infographic summary are now available here. Ends

Friday, 16 September 2022

A one million euro Cisco – CÚRAM funded partnership will implement and evaluate an innovative digital health infrastructure to improve patient care Researchers at the Health Innovation Via Engineering (HIVE) Laboratory, University of Galway will use state of the art medical device technology including remote sensors and artificial intelligence software as part of a suite of interventions to deliver next generation chronic disease management in the community. Modern medicine has meant that people are living longer and correspondingly there has been an increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and therefore new approaches are needed to deliver this care efficiently and effectively, as was evidenced during Covid public health restrictions.  The Home Health project combines video consultations with remote physiological monitoring, including blood pressure, weight, blood sugar, to deliver more useful virtual care.  It aims, through supporting and adding to existing healthcare provision, to improve the management of patient care for the 165 residents on Clare Island and make the island a beacon for the delivery of digital health solutions.  Its multi-stakeholder engagement will ensure a sustainable and scalable solution is created though the Health Service Executive living lab framework. Dr Noreen Curtis, GP in Clare Island, said: “I am very excited with the Home Health project and anticipate that improving virtual care will augment the current services and improve overall care for the patients here." Project Principal Investigator and CÚRAM-Funded Investigator Professor Derek O’Keeffe said: “Digital health is the future of medicine and data empowers the patient and allows them and their clinicians to make better medical decisions.” The Home Health project will also investigate the development of a dynamic medical appointments architecture, whereby patients are scheduled to be reviewed based on clinical need rather than the traditional static calendar appointments. In addition the project will evaluate novel health promotion interventions, drone delivery of medications and robotic triage simulation. To overcome the digital divide, a central part of the project is the development of a new, private 5G network on the island to enable monitoring of data. Brian Jordan, Head of Innovation and Industry Solutions, Cisco Ireland said: “There is a transformative opportunity to map virtual care digital technology to the entire patient care continuum. Bridging the capabilities of AI, connectivity, the world of IOT enabled medical devices and cybersecurity will enable this. Cisco are delighted to work with the University of Galway, HSE, and the wider healthcare ecosystem to bring the ‘Shift Left, Stay Left’ HSE vision into reality.” Commenting on the significance of the project, CÚRAM Director Professor Abhay Pandit, said: “This project is one of the largest industry collaborations our centre has supported to date. It is an excellent example of the impact that collaborations between CÚRAM and industry can have on local communities and society at wide.” As well as CÚRAM and Cisco, the project has multiple stakeholders including the island community, HSE and the Western Development Commission. Public Patient Involvement (PPI) is a central theme of the HOME HEALTH project, having the island community involved in all aspects of the project planning, development and implementation. Ends

Friday, 9 September 2022

A new project led by University of Galway will explore new methods to generate green hydrogen from low-quality water sources, such as seawater and wastewater. Funded by the European Innovation Council, the ANEMEL project brings together experts from academic institutions, research facilities, technological centres, SMEs and industries in seven European countries to develop efficient electrolysers, which split water into hydrogen and oxygen, and expedite the design of prototypes over a four year period. The project fits within a bigger initiative by the European Commission to design and test novel routes towards the production of green hydrogen. Obtained by splitting water into its basic elements - hydrogen and oxygen - using renewable energy sources, green hydrogen could replace fossil fuels in transportation and industry. Moreover, it provides a cleaner raw material for the chemical industry - where green hydrogen could lead to more sustainable fertilisers, feedstocks and fundamental materials like steel.  ANEMEL will gather expertise in the field of membranes and electrolysers - the overall goal is a prototype that yields green hydrogen from low-grade water with minimal treatments. Additionally, the oxygen obtained could find uses in the treatment and purification of the water sources. The membranes designed by ANEMEL will avoid using persistent and pollutant products like poly-fluorinated materials, as well as critical raw materials - favouring the use of abundant metals like nickel and iron. All this will reduce the cost of the electrolyser components and improve their recyclability, thus reducing waste and providing a competitive advantage. Dr Pau Farràs, principal investigator of ANEMEL and researcher with the School of Chemistry, University of Galway, said: “We’re thrilled to kick-off ANEMEL after months of preparations and planning. I’m convinced we've reunited the perfect team to design efficient electrolysers to produce green hydrogen directly from low-quality waters, which will offer unique opportunities to reshape the European energy landscape, ensuring economic independence as well as stimulating sustainable solutions to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels.”   Project Partners Under the leadership of University of Galway, ANEMEL project partners include: Technical University of Berlin, Germany; AGFA, Belgium; LEITAT and AGATA Comunicación Científica, Spain; De Nora, Italy; Technion Institute of Technology, Israel; EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) and HES·SO (Haute École Spécialisée de Suisse Occidentale), Switzerland.   Ends

Monday, 22 August 2022

Breakthrough study follows collaboration between NUI Galway and Massachusetts Institute of Technology A team of researchers from NUI Galway and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has devised a new design that prevents the build-up of scar tissue and extends the therapeutic lifespan of an implanted medical device.  The breakthrough device/development, which does not rely on immunosuppressing drugs, may assist efforts to develop an artificial pancreas to treat diabetes. The study was published in the international journal Nature Communications. Implantable drug delivery devices that release insulin into the body over long periods of time hold promise as an alternative way to treat diabetes without insulin injections or cannula insertions.  However, one obstacle that has prevented their use so far is that the immune system attacks them after implantation, forming a thick layer of scar tissue that blocks insulin release. This cascade of events, known as the foreign body response, can also interfere with many other types of implantable medical devices which leads to premature failure.  The NUI Galway-MIT research team incorporated mechanical actuation in their design which enabled small and regular movements of the implanted device. The research showed that just by moving the device every 12 hours, the device remained functional after eight weeks of implantation and was as good as a freshly implanted device. It also showed that this type of motion modulates how immune cells respond to the implanted device, which extends its lifetime and efficacy. NUI Galway’s Assistant Professor in Biomedical Engineer Dr Eimear Dolan said: “We are very excited about the results of this study. We believe our approach holds promise to improve the performance of a range of implantable drug delivery devices - from insulin to cancer therapy delivery. It is a privilege to work with such a talented multi-disciplinary team and I look forward to continuing working together.” Professor Garry Duffy, Professor of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine, NUI Galway, said: “This is a continuation of our efforts to thwart the foreign body response to allow long term lifespan of implantable drug delivery devices with a specific focus on improving the lives of people living with Type 1 diabetes. Soft robotics allow us to make the implants active and to influence how the immune system perceives medical device implants. We will continue to translate this technology through to the clinic in the coming years.” Professor Ellen Roche from MIT said: “You can imagine that we can apply this technology to anything that is hindered by a foreign body response or fibrous capsule and have a long-term effect. I think any sort of implantable drug delivery device could benefit.” In this study published in Nature Communications, the team applied their design to diabetes to see if that immunomodulatory effect could help improve drug delivery over eight weeks. The team built a two-chambered device where one of the chambers acts as a drug reservoir, and the other acts as a soft, inflatable actuator. Using an external controller, the researchers can stimulate the actuator to inflate and deflate on a specific schedule.  They found that mechanical actuation clears away immune cells called neutrophils, the cells that initiate the process that leads to scar tissue formation, and it took much longer for scar tissue to develop around these devices. The research showed scar tissue did eventually form, but its structure was unusual - instead of the tangled collagen fibres that built up around static devices, collagen fibres surrounding actuated devices were more highly aligned, which the researchers believe may help drug molecules to pass through the tissue. The researchers evaluated the effectiveness of the insulin release by measuring subsequent changes in blood glucose levels and found with the actuated device, effective insulin delivery was maintained throughout the eight weeks of the study.  Co-Founded by Professor Duffy, Professor Roche and Dr Dolan and led by CEO Robert Wylie, Fada Medical is developing fully implantable and partially implantable versions of this technology that will improve insulin delivery for people with diabetes. This venture will be supported by the unique NUI Galway innovation ecosystem drawing expertise from CÚRAM, the HRB Clinical Research Facility and leading clinicians.  The research was funded in part by Science Foundation Ireland, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health. The study builds on a strong collaboration between NUI Galway’s Dr Eimear Dolan and Professor Garry Duffy, and Professor Ellen Roche from MIT.  MIT postdocs William Whyte and Debkalpa Goswami, and visiting scholar Sophie Wang, are the lead authors of the paper, with contributions from NUI Galway researchers Niamh Ward, Dr Ruth Levey, Rachel Beatty, Dr Scott Robinson, Dr Declan Sheppard, Raymond O’Connor, Dr David Monahan, Lesley Trask, Robert Wylie, Dr Joanne O’Dwyer and Daniel Domingo. The full study is available in Nature Communications at  Ends

Friday, 19 August 2022

NUI Galway clinicians, computer scientists and engineers are using enhanced x-ray technology used to measure bone density in people across Galway, Leitrim and Sligo to develop new osteoporosis screening and testing strategies for early identification of the condition in patients.  Funded by the Health Research Board, the Dual-energy X-ray Absorptiometry Management Application Project (DXA MAP), uses state of the art machines to develop a personalised, patient-centred tool for osteoporosis screening and fracture prediction. Professor of Medicine at NUI Galway and Clinical Lead for DXA, Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disorders, at Galway University Hospitals, John Carey said: “The cross disciplinary expertise enables the development of a smart screening methodology to reduce health costs, maximise healthcare efficiencies, reduce waiting times and improve patient care and quality of life.” The DXA MAP tool will be underpinned by artificial intelligence, recommended diagnostic criteria, reference standards and visualisation approaches to support osteoporosis and fracture risk prediction, clinical interpretation and clinical-patient communication. The DXA MAP project also aims to support clinician interpretation through more automated processes and could predict Covid-19 and multi-morbidity risk using DXA secondary-data. The project will be carried out by the University’s College of Science and Engineering and the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science, and led by Dr Attracta Brennan, Professor John Carey and Associate Professor Mary Dempsey.  The DXA MAP project includes patients and collaborators in Tsinghua University and Oxford University. Ends

Wednesday, 3 August 2022

NUI Galway and Queen’s University Belfast collaborate under Shared Island fund to tackle issue of hospital acquired infections Researchers at NUI Galway and Queen’s University Belfast are investigating how attaching sugar molecules to plastics could give medical devices a new layer of protection from infection. The SUGARCOAT project is among 62 research collaborations supported by the Government’s Shared Island fund.  Early-career researchers Dr Joseph Byrne, NUI Galway, and Dr Matthew Wylie, Queen’s University Belfast, are working together to tackle the issue of hospital acquired infections associated with devices by taking preventative science to a new level.  The team is attempting to harness the science behind the interaction of sugar molecules with bacterial proteins to make fluorescent materials which glow at first, darkening when they become compromised by bacteria. The technology would be attached to plastics which coat medical devices - such as urinary catheters or endotracheal tubes - allowing clinicians to spot potential infection at an early opportunity and react faster.  Dr Byrne, Honorary Research Lecturer in the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, NUI Galway, explained the concept: “Prevention of bacterial infections is key to fighting the challenge of antimicrobial resistance and if this isn't possible, then early detection through innovative sensing materials could act as an alarm, allowing devices to be removed and replaced before infection becomes a more serious risk to patient health.” Dr Wylie, Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Materials Science in Queens University Belfast, said: “Like many humans, sugar is something bacteria can’t resist getting a taste of. Many types of bacteria contain special proteins, which allow them to seek out and attach to sugar molecules, which they can use to grow and cause infection within the human body. Our new sugar-decorated coatings will exploit this interaction as an early warning, which has the potential to lead to the development of a new generation of medical devices, giving doctors and nurses tools to reduce risks of infection, bring down healthcare costs and decrease the need for antibiotic use in hospitals.” The project is being supported with €193,000 from the Government’s Shared Island initiative. The research team is supported by senior colleagues Professor Abhay Pandit, Director of CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices at NUI Galway, and Professor Colin McCoy, Head of School of Pharmacy in Queen’s University Belfast.  Medical device-associated infections account for up to half of healthcare-associated infections and people who are immunocompromised people and those with cystic fibrosis (CF) are particularly at risk, with the island of Ireland having one of the highest number of people with CF per capita. These infections are a major health concern to patients and incur significant expense to healthcare systems, requiring longer stays and increased antibiotic usage. The rise of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria is an urgent problem, decreasing the effectiveness of existing antibiotics. It is estimated that across EU/EEA countries, 33,000 deaths per year in EU/EEA countries are associated with antimicrobial resistance, costing more than €1 billion to health services.  This project hopes to minimise the impact of this challenge by producing innovative coatings, which will prevent or detect bacterial build-up on widely-used medical devices before they lead to infection in a patient.  Dr Byrne, a CÚRAM collaborator, added: “Hospital-acquired bacterial infections are a major issue across the entire island of Ireland, and I’m excited to forge a new and lasting relationship with counterparts in Belfast to deliver meaningful new tools in fighting this challenge. “The research allows me to combine my chemistry research with more patient-facing researchers and healthcare stakeholders to increase our societal impact. Building all-island collaborations through this scheme will help us to unlock Ireland’s potential for innovation and cutting-edge science.” Dr Wylie added: “We are delighted to be able to pursue this innovative research under the Shared Island fund. Not only is it support for two early-career researchers, but it will open up opportunities for collaboration with industry and clinicians in both the North and South of Ireland, particularly as Galway is a global hub for major medical device companies and Queen’s has vast experience of collaborating with medical device companies across the UK and Ireland.” Ends

Wednesday, 15 June 2022

ICHEC (Irish Centre for High-End Computing) welcomes EU support for supercomputing  The Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) at NUI Galway has been selected by the EU as the home for a new supercomputer. Ireland is one of five successful countries, along with Germany, Hungary, Greece and Poland, chosen to operate the next generation of European High Performance Computing. The announcement of EU funding is the first step in a process which will be completed subject to national co-funding arrangements.  President of NUI Galway Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “The key benefit of a super-computing technology of this excellence is its capacity to model complexity and to radically expand our research opportunities. “Our core values at NUI Galway include openness and respect and computing infrastructure of this capacity will be a significant asset in that regard as it futureproofs our approach to research, respecting the evidence and making a major contribution to openly supporting the scientific research community in Ireland. It also fits with so many aspects of our research strategy, using data to support research and policy-making in the environment, marine, healthcare, and in supporting a good society.” Commenting on the successful bid Professor. J-C Desplat, ICHEC, said: “A new supercomputer, expected to be around 25 times more powerful than the current national supercomputer Kay, would provide a national competence development platform for both numerical modelling and for the next generation of data-centric techniques and platforms and, as such, accelerate the adoption of powerful new hybrid techniques embedding machine learning within mainstream computational science models and Grand Challenges.”  Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President Research and Innovation, NUI Galway, said: “The key feature of machine of this nature is its capacity to model complexity. As weather patterns change, as the future of distributed energy networks change, as we attempt to predict food supply needs of the future, we need a totally new kind of computing capacity to support our endeavours in these areas for the public good.” EuroHPC supercomputers will be available to serve a wide range of European users, including  the scientific community, industry and the public sector, powering new applications in a wide range of areas, from designing medicines and new materials to fighting climate change, they will advance science, boost the innovation potential of enterprises while ultimately improving the citizens’ quality of life. Ends

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Research team at the University exploring sustainable solutions for Tidal Energy  NUI Galway has today announced the first project under its Global Challenges Programme - a targeted research initiative to tackle six of the world’s most pressing issues. The Tidal Energy project will focus on solutions to secure transition to affordable and clean energy that also enhance the health and resilience of communities, wildlife and environment. Professor Jamie Goggins, Professor of Civil Engineering, MaREI Centre, Ryan Institute & School of Engineering, NUI Galway, will lead the project. Professor Goggins said: “The NUI Galway Tidal Energy project will engage with multiple stakeholders - including the people living in the coastal communities - to unlock the potential benefits for them in our drive to decarbonise the economy.  “The just transition is crucial in the work towards decarbonisation. So too is the importance placed on biodiversity and how we enhance the health and resilience of our ocean & coastal communities. Our aim in the Tidal Energy project is to create a blueprint to simultaneously achieve these ambitions.” The NUI Galway Global Challenges fund was unveiled as part of the University’s new Research and Innovation Strategy 2021-26. There are six areas of focus in the Global Challenges programme - Antimicrobial Resistance, Decarbonisation, Democracy, Food Security, Human-centred Data, and Ocean and Coastal Health. The Tidal Energy project is being supported under the theme of Decarbonisation.  Further information is available at Professor Jim Livesey, Vice-President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway, said: “Through our Global Challenges programme we are inviting our researchers to focus on the most pressing questions and the most difficult issues. As part of our mission as a research-led institution, it is incumbent upon us to work for the public good and also with communities and stakeholders, both local and globally, to respond to the challenges facing humanity.” The Tidal Energy project involves a number of key, interconnected elements: :: Exploring the development of next-generation tidal energy technology and tidal turbine blades. :: Site modelling and the assessment of the impact of climate change on site characteristics and extreme events for tidal energy technology.  :: Economic appraisal of tidal energy and the investigation of societal attitudes. :: Stakeholder engagement to better understand the needs and concerns of tidal energy developers, local authorities and the coastal communities. :: Systems to assess the interactions of tidal energy infrastructure with wildlife. :: Recruitment of five PhD researchers to the project. Globally, the tidal energy resource is estimated at more than 1200 terraWhats per annum. The world uses 17.7 terrawhats a year. The Tidal Energy project brings together a wealth of academic and research expertise and knowledge from across NUI Galway. The team includes Professor Goggins; Dr Stephen Nash, Senior Lecturer School of Engineering; Dr William Finnegan; Senior Research Fellow, School of Engineering; Professor Stephen Hynes, Professor in Economics and Director of the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit; Dr Thomas Van Rensburg, Senior Lecturer, School of Business & Economics; Dr Gesche Kindermann, Lecturer, School of Natural Science; Dr Anne Marie Power, Senior Lecturer in Zoology, School of Natural Sciences), and Dr Colin Lawton Senior Lecturer, School of Natural Science. Ends

Wednesday, 2 March 2022

NUI Galway and Ulster University lead flagship €4 million project to advance understanding of region and foster sustainable innovation   Cross-border research unveiled under Government’s Shared Island North-South Research Programme NUI Galway and Ulster University have been announced as the lead partners on a new strategic regional development research project under the Government’s North-South Research Programme.  The Atlantic Innovation Corridor is a cross-border collaboration focusing on themes such as rural entrepreneurial ecosystems, business scaling, female entrepreneurship, digitalisation, freight connectivity and mental health. University of Limerick and Galway Mayo Institute of Technology are co-partners on the research. The Atlantic Innovation Corridor will create a research team organised in hubs in Derry/Londonderry and Limerick and administered in the third hub in Galway. The four year project was announced by Taoiseach Michéal Martin T.D. and Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris T.D. as part of the Government’s Shared Island North South Research Programme.  The Atlantic Innovation Corridor involves a series of research work programmes on sustainable regional development for the north-west of the island, the west and mid-west. Among the projects in the partnership are: Mentoring scheme for female entrepreneurs in the region. Identifying economic growth bottlenecks and how to take action; Business masterclasses for growth Mental health promotion Digital skills development, transformation and policy interventions in rural and peripheral regions Impact of Brexit and Covid on female entrepreneurship  Establishing the region and the partnership as an internationally recognised centre of excellence for impactful research. Exploring international freight transport connectivity through the north-west of the island, including rail connectivity and the potential of Foyle Port. Professor Jim Livesey, Vice President Research and Innovation at NUI Galway and Principal Investigator for the Atlantic Innovation Corridor, said: “This investment in large-scale social science research will create a resource for the region and the country.  “Our collaboration will produce engaged research that will help guide us through the transitions, digital, green and energy, that are before us. It will also form a base from which we can share our insights and experience with other regions of Europe and the world which have difficult histories and borders but seek to make progress together.  “This ambitious agenda is shared with our partners in the Western Development Commission, the North West Regional Development Authority and our collaborators in AwakenHub. We see this investment as a foundation from which we will build partnerships and engagement key across all these projects, our NUI Galway research community playing a great role and the Atlantic Innovation Corridor is an opportunity to deeply explore and understand our region with the express intent to leverage this to further sustainable develop. We are delighted to work with colleagues in Ulster University and in multiple other institutions across our island.” Professor Liam Maguire, Pro Vice-Chancellor Research, Ulster University said: “Alongside the well-documented environmental factors of sustainable development, this unique partnership aims to explore and address human considerations including the responsiveness of communities and sectors to mobilise for collective action and innovation.” “From our progressive campus in Derry~Londonderry, we are uniquely placed to contribute to this three-city regional collaboration, incorporating research that can contribute insights, inform policy and drive forward practical solutions for the benefit of individuals, organisations and communities.” University of Limerick Vice President Research Professor Norelee Kennedy said: “UL is delighted to partner with our colleagues in NUI Galway, Ulster University and GMIT on the Atlantic Innovation Corridor exploring social capital and collective action capacity of the region. Through exploring entrepreneurship ecosystems in rural regions, business scaling in the Atlantic Corridor and the challenges and opportunities for smaller regional innovation systems UL will support the consortium in this ambitious programme of impactful, policy informing research.” The North-South Research Programme is a collaborative scheme funded through the Government’s Shared Island Fund. It is being administered by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on behalf of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. Ends

Wednesday, 2 February 2022

A special new scholarship has been announced by University of Galway for entrepreneurial undergraduate students. The Séamus McDermott Entrepreneurial Scholarship, funded through the generous philanthropic support of the Liffey Trust, will run for an initial 10-year period. The scholarship will help to support students in University of Galway’s newly launched student innovation and entrepreneurship hub, IdeasLab. It will also help to promote the concepts of job creation, entrepreneurial development and education for life for undergraduate students commencing their studies. First year undergraduate students at University of Galway can apply for a scholarship valued at up to €9,000 for the duration of their studies at the University.  The inaugural students will be selected in March 2022.  President of University of Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: “We welcome our new partnership with the Liffey Trust. A key strength of University of Galway is our partnership with business, industry, government and civic society to nurture graduates that are civic, innovative and entrepreneurial. The scholarship will sow the seeds to further enhance and support our vision for innovation, excellence and entrepreneurship in the region.” The Liffey Trust was established more than 30 years ago and has been supporting entrepreneurs to establish and grow new businesses since then. The University of Galway scholarship is named in honour of the founder of the Liffey Trust, Galway native Séamus McDermott, in recognition of his contribution to entrepreneurship in Ireland.  Professor Michelle Millar, Dean of Students in University of Galway, said: “We are delighted to broaden our scholarship portfolio to include the Séamus McDermott Entrepreneurial Scholarship. Our campus is filled with creative and innovative minds that this scholarship can make a real difference to.” For further information on the scholarship contact, or submit an application at  Ends

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

More than 50 university research collaborations with industry  Four new spin-outs created, and one acquired for almost €40m  New initiatives launched to support research impact, knowledge exchange and United Nations Sustainable Development Goals  University of Galway has revealed a strong performance during 2021 in knowledge transfer and impact with 50 industry collaborations, four new spin-outs and multiple start-up successes and awards. The University also introduced a new initiative supporting knowledge exchange related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and societal problems and launched a toolkit to help the research community engage with external stakeholders and maximise research impact. :: Spin-outs: Four new medtech companies - Tympany Medical, FeelTect Medical, Endowave, and Symphysis Medical - were registered as spin-outs from University of Galway in 2021. All were based on Enterprise Ireland funded research and are developing medical devices which address unmet clinical needs, identified during the Bioinnovate Ireland programme at University of Galway.  :: Start-up ecosystem: University of Galway’s Innovation Office used its Business and Innovation Centre to provide 35 early-stage businesses with mentoring and supports, as well as facilities including laboratories, wet-labs and dedicated offices.   :: Illuminate: A new funding initiative by the University’s Innovation Office supports ground-breaking research that directly addresses the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Each ambitious project has the potential to change society for the better, including in the fields of Geography, Psychology, English and Creative Arts and Philosophy.  :: Impact: This year saw the development and launch of NUI Galway's special toolkit to provide researchers with tools to plan, capture, communicate and monitor the impact of their research.  Professor Jim Livesey, University of Galway’s Vice-President for Research and Innovation, said: “Despite all challenges thrown at us, 2021 was a year in which the University expanded its portfolio of spin-outs and widened engagement.   “We are immensely proud of the work our colleagues in the Innovation Office have done to support our entrepreneurial principal investigators and to offer new breakthroughs to the community.”  David Murphy, Director of Knowledge Transfer and Innovation at University of Galway and head of the Innovation Office, said: “Spinouts are a critical route to successfully transfer technology out of the University. The creation of companies whose purpose is to turn research into societal impact is one of the core activities of the Innovation Office at University of Galway.”   University of Galway has 24 spin-out companies, employing more than 185 people, and bringing innovative new services and products to market.   Mr Murphy added: “Many of our start-ups have come through the Enterprise Ireland funded BioInnovate Ireland Programme, developed by University of Galway, and we look forward to building on our expertise and commitment to generating new ventures in 2022.”  Some of the successes among the University of Galway spin-out community, many of whom are based in the Business Innovation Centre, in 2021 included:  :: Vetex Medical was acquired by global company Surmodics Inc in a deal worth almost €40m in 2021. The company will expand operations in Galway as they develop a technology to address the management of venous clots. University of Galway and Vetex Medical were nominated for a Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Award.  :: Eight University of Galway start-ups were awarded funding totalling more than €27million through the Government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. The projects will have wide-ranging benefits across many areas of society where innovative technology will be rapidly advanced in areas such as cell therapeutics, medical devices and drone-delivery. :: Tympany Medical, which is developing a specialised ear surgery device, raised €3.5 million in seed investment, including from the venture arm of the Mayo Clinic.   :: Start-up AVeta Medical which aims to revolutionise the treatment of vaginal atrophy, secured funding of €2.5 million from the European Commission.  :: Former BioInnovate Ireland fellow Dr Lyn Markey of Xtremedy Medical won the One to Watch award at Enterprise Ireland's Big Ideas 2021. :: At the Irish Medtech Awards, University of Galway’s Biomechanics Research Centre won the Academic Contribution to Medtech Award and Luminate Medical, which has developed a novel technology to prevent chemotherapy induced hair loss, took home Emerging Medtech Company of the Year. :: Three start-ups secure places at the European Institute of Innovation and Technology - EIT Health Catapult Final next year Luminate Medical, FeelTect, and Amara Therapeutics. :: Start-up Bluedrop Medical won the 2021 Roche Diabetes Care Innovation Challenge in association with Chicago-based healthcare incubator Matter. :: GlasPort Bio won the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) award for Excellence in Energy Research and Innovation.    :: Farmeye, a start-up specialising in soil management, have licensed intellectual property from University of Galway to facilitate labelling and tracking of soil samples. The company is committed to providing systems for full traceability from soil to supermarket and the intellectual property allows the company to manage the soil sampling and analysis process at scale.   :: University of Galway Pristine Coast has developed a superior approach for seaweed authentication spinning out of from the School of Natural Science by providing genetic testing and traceability solutions to seaweed biomass and products worldwide. The technology enables consumer confidence that the goods purchased are of a required standard. Ends 

Thursday, 29 July 2021

AI-enabled satellite remote sensing can provide solution for measuring climate change adaptation A research project at University of Galway has been announced today as the winner of the SFI Future Innovator Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Societal Good Challenge, for its ground-breaking AI-based satellite imagery analysis tool to measure climate change adaptation in agriculture. Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, together with Minister of State for Overseas Development and Diaspora, Colm Brophy, TD announced the winning TAPAS project. The TAPAS team led by Dr Aaron Golden and Professor Charles Spillane from University of Galway, have been awarded €1 million for their interdisciplinary project resulting in a tool capable of providing objective data on the effectiveness of agricultural interventions for climate change adaptation.  The TAPAS project was co-funded with Irish Aid under SFI’s partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and has focused initially on test sites in Senegal that are subject to adaptation-strengthening agri-food interventions. Adaptation to climate change in developing countries is expected to cost $140-300 billion per year by 2030, so assessing the effectiveness of resilience-strengthening interventions through the measurement, reporting and verification of climate change adaptation in the agriculture and food sectors is a critical area of development. Over 130 countries are now prioritising agricultural adaptation in their national plans to meet the necessary ambition of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Speaking today, Minister Simon Harris said: “Congratulations to the TAPAS team at University of Galway on this fantastic achievement. Building resilience through climate change adaptation which will strengthen food security is a critical issue for governments across the world and this solution provides a way forward that will allow public and private enterprises to invest wisely by assessing effective interventions and helping to achieve the objectives set out in the national Climate Action Plan.” Commenting on the Award, Minister of State for Overseas Development and Diaspora, Colm Brophy, TD added: “Imagine that it hasn’t rained for a year or that your crops have been scorched by the sun. That’s the reality for communities across the developing world who rely on rain-fed agriculture. Climate change threatens the ability of millions of families to provide food and earn income. I welcome the ingenuity of Dr Golden and his team at University of Galway in developing this technology which will help communities adapt to our changing climate.” On winning the prize Dr Aaron Golden, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Maths, University of Galway, stated: “The TAPAS project team and I are absolutely delighted to receive this prize in recognition of the importance of the ground-breaking technology we are developing with TAPAS, which we believe has the potential to empower society across the globe to proactively reduce the impact of Climate Change, most especially those communities in the developing world whose economies are almost entirely dependent on agriculture. It has been an honour to work with such excellent collaborators at the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and SFI’s unique and innovative Challenge based funding process has, with the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs, really helped us thrive as an interdisciplinary group of scientists to bring this transformative project to reality." The team co-lead Professor Charles Spillane, Ryan Institute, University of Galway, added: “Climate change adaptation is a critical 21st century challenge, particularly in the agriculture sector where almost 20 million (~40%) of the world’s agricultural land area is at risk of adverse effects of climate change. The current lack of a universally deployable system to measure adaptation to climate change motivated us to develop one, by combining AI with satellite remote sensing of agricultural systems. Moving forward from COP26, our TAPAS technology for measuring adaptation will inform both public and private investments to ensure that the most effective climate change adaptation interventions are deployed globally.” Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “Congratulations to Dr Aaron Golden, Professor Charles Spillane and Dr Andy Jarvis. This novel solution shows exactly what can be accomplished when interdisciplinary expertise comes together under a challenge-based funding structure that facilitates ideation through to invention. I am delighted for the team and look forward to following TAPAS as the impact of this solution unfolds across the globe. “I would also like to extend my congratulations to the runners up, Professor Patricia Maguire and the AI_PREMie team, for the important work they are doing in advancing foetal health and women’s health with their state-of-the-art diagnostic application.” As part of the SFI AI for Societal Good Challenge, a runner-up award of €500,000 was awarded to Prof Patricia Maguire, University College Dublin (UCD), and her team AI_PREMie­ in recognition of the potential impact of their AI-powered risk stratification platform for preeclampsia. -Ends-

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

The ShellAqua Project will measure the potential benefits provided by shellfish aquaculture A new research project, ShellAqua, aims to quantify the ecosystem services, that is the benefits to human wellbeing provided by the natural environment from healthy ecosystems, potentially provided by shellfish aquaculture. ShellAqua was one of the projects that recently received funding by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, under the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund funded Knowledge Gateway Scheme. The project, led by the MOREFISH group, an aquaculture research unit based within the Ryan Institute at University of Galway, began in May 2021. The MOREFISH research group specialises in the incorporation of life cycle assessment and circular economy models for the seafood sector in Ireland. The project was developed from partnerships and engagement with industry through the Atlantic Area Interreg project, NEPTUNUS. The project has four goals, each formed around producing tangible outputs for society, industry and wider stakeholders: Develop an ecosystem services-based tool using operational and monitoring data for case-study shellfish aquaculture sites. These datasets will be developed using laboratory scale experiments and on-site monitoring. Develop life cycle datasets on mussel and oyster production in order to produce a tool that will allow operators and producers to continue monitoring their environmental performance after the project concludes. Assess the economic benefits of the outputs from the preceding goals. The results of the previous work packages will be used to estimate the value of the ecosystems services provided by shellfish aquaculture at the case-study sites. Engage in knowledge transfer of methods, results and approaches. Industry partners and stakeholders will be actively engaged throughput the project through a series of workshops and training events. Industry partners who supported the ShellAqua application included Coney Island Shellfish Ltd., Blackshell Farm, and Kelly Oysters. The application was also supported by the community-based organisation Cuan Beo and the representative body for Irish Aquaculture, Irish Farmers’ Association Aquaculture. The locations of these sites will allow for the development of datasets and profiling of mussel (Mytilus edulis) and oyster (Crassostrea gigas) aquaculture in Galway Bay, Clew Bay, Sligo Harbour and Drumcliff Bay. Michael Mulloy, chairman of Irish Farmers’ Association Aquaculture and owner of Blackshell Farm said: “That the ShellAqua project is valuable for the future and helps take the industry in the direction we need to go. The project will provide the tools we need to verify the sustainability of our industry.” Frank Carter,  of Coney Island Shellfish Ltd., and aquaculture representative of the Northwest Regional Inshore Fisheries Forum, said: "Coney Island Shellfish Ltd. supports the ShellAqua project in its aim to equip the shellfish industry to assess its own environmental impact and, using the tools developed by the project, demonstrate its ability to contribute positively to the climate change agenda. In so doing, the industry will be empowered to actively engage in the drive towards environmental protection and the preservation of biodiversity, while continuing to produce a healthy and sustainable food source." Alan Kennedy, MOREFISH and ShellAqua project manager at University of Galway, said: “This is another example of how proactive engagement between researchers and the aquaculture sector can support the sustainable development of the industry with significant potential benefits for broader society.” The project aims to provide results of interest not only to industry but also to wider stakeholder groups. The expected outcomes from ShellAqua will include farm level tools to estimate carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous removal (i.e. ecosystem services), a sustainability tool, valorisation strategies for shellfish waste streams and knowledge transfer. Through developing this network with a focus on strong industry engagement, it is expected that research outputs from future projects can proactively support industry identified needs. Diarmuid Kelly, Chair of Cuan Beo, said: “While we have always known the importance of having healthy bivalve populations within our bays, this project will provide us with the scientific evidence of the ecosystem services provided by such communities. It will also give us the necessary information needed to inform policy makers of the benefits of protecting shellfish waters.” For more information on ShellAqua, MOREFISH and NEPTUNUS visit:, or contact Alan Kennedy, University of Galway, at -Ends-

Thursday, 8 July 2021

A HABscope, a microscope with an attached iPod using artificially intelligent software is currently being tested by scientists from the Marine Institute and NUI Galway to detect harmful algal bloom species (HABs) in Irish waters. The pilot study is part of an international collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA in the USA.    The HABscope was recently used on board the Marine Institute’s RV Celtic Voyager as part of a dedicated harmful phytoplankton survey (DINO21) in the Celtic Sea led by Dr Robin Raine of NUI, Galway. Data collected from this pilot study will contribute to the PhD research being conducted by Catherine Jordan from NUI, Galway as part of the Marine Institute’s Cullen Scholarship Programme. Ocean colour satellite imagery, combined with the HABscope system, provides scientists with a ‘bird’s eye view’ of the ocean and may provide early detection and monitoring of phytoplankton blooms. Daily imagery is used to track the bloom’s movement using specifically designed algorithms which calculate the reflectance of light off the ocean surface. The HABscope, developed by NOAA with funding from NASA, consists of a microscope with an iPod attached, embedded with artificially intelligent software to identify the swimming pattern of the phytoplankton Karenia. Results are returned instantly on whether the genre of phytoplankton is present in the water sample. Ms Catherine Jordan said, “When phytoplankton appear in high numbers, and depending on the type of phytoplankton, they can produce green and dark red hues in the water known as 'algal blooms'. As these blooms can sometimes be visible from space, satellites provide a useful tool in monitoring the location and extent of these blooms. In most cases phytoplankton blooms are of benefit to the ecosystem, but a small proportion of phytoplankton species produce toxins which may affect other marine life.” “This is the first time that the HABscope has been tested outside of the Unites States,” Ms Jordan added. “Using the HABscope alongside satellite technology may help to provide early wide-scale warnings of the presence of harmful algal blooms. HABS can have an impact on industries such as aquaculture, fisheries and tourism, so it is important to be able to detect, monitor, track and forecast the development and movement of HABs in real-time.” Karenia mikimotoi is a naturally occurring phytoplankton species which occasionally can form dense blooms off the Irish coast. These “Red-Tides” can sometimes cause the seawater to discolour and can even result in localised mortality of a range of marine animals. The Marine Institute monitors our coastal waters for this species as part of the National Phytoplankton Monitoring Programme. It is thought Karenia overwinter in low numbers as motile cells and when favourable conditions arrive in early to late summer they can form these blooms. As part of the recent survey on board the RV Celtic Voyager, Karenia was detected offshore in one area at a cell density of 250,000 cells per litre in a thin sub-surface layer, analogous to an underwater cloud. The HABscope was used successfully with samples from this layer and its performance is currently being evaluated. Despite causing occasional impacts on marine animals, Karenia has no impact on human health and is a common species in Irish coastal waters at this time of the year. The Marine Institute programme analyses water samples from around the coast of Ireland to identify any harmful or nuisance phytoplankton, and to monitor their impact on shellfish and finfish in particular. -Ends-

Monday, 5 July 2021

CORRIB Core Lab partners with SINOMED and European hospitals to study how new stent improves quality of life University of Galway and leading international medical device company SINOMED have teamed up to conduct a clinical trial of a special stent which has the potential to break new ground in the treatment of patients with heart disease. The PIONEER-IV trial will take place over several years in 30 hospital centres across Europe and involve 2,540 patients.  The trial will use the newly patented Healing-Targeted Supreme Stent (HT Supreme™) from SINOMED. The novel drug-eluting stent is designed to encourage rapid healing of the treated blood vessel, thereby potentially reducing reliance on some long-term medications such as blood thinners. The trial is sponsored by University of Galway and centrally coordinated by the University’s CORRIB Research Centre for Advanced Imaging and Core Laboratory. University Hospital Galway (UHG) is the first European site to enrol patients. Professor Faisal Sharif, Professor of Translational Cardiovascular Medicine and Innovation at University of Galway and Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at UHG, is Principal Investigator on the trial in Ireland.  Professor Sharif said: “We are delighted to translate novel devices such as HT Supreme stents for Irish patients. The trial will also allow us to perform assessment on blood vessel narrowing with new and safer software that establishes the absolute necessity to treat that coronary artery stenosis. New devices and technologies, like offered in this trial, allow us to constantly improve the standard of care for our patients by making interventions safer with better clinical outcomes.” Patients will be considered for the trial if they suffer any type of coronary heart disease, including acute heart attack, chronic complaints or blood vessel narrowing. Eligible patients will undergo a refined physiological blood vessel selection process in order to determine which blood vessel has to be stented and which one could be treated with pharmacological therapy, without the use of a permanent implant. This strategy is the best guarantee of a safer and more cost-effective treatment. University of Galway’s CORRIB Core Lab is led by Professor Patrick W Serruys, Established Professor of Interventional Medicine and Innovation, and Professor William Wijns, Science Foundation Ireland Professor of Interventional Cardiology, both of whom are internationally renowned experts in interventional cardiology.  Co-chair of the PIONEER-IV trial, Professor Serruys said: “SINOMED has an international reputation for state-of-the-art stents with a healing-targeted mechanism that may help overcome the long-standing problem of traditional stent implantation, allowing for safer long-term results.”  Deputy chairman of the trial, Yoshi Onuma, Professor of Interventional Cardiology and medical director of CORRIB Research Centre, said: “The hope is that this trial will simplify the treatment for patients undergoing stent implantation of diseased blood vessels, and could offer benefits to patients when coupled with a shorter duration of blood-thinning medications.” Professor Andreas Baumbach (London), Professor Javier Escaned (Madrid), Professor Faisal Sharif (Galway) and Professor Peter Smits (Rotterdam) will act as global Principle Investigators.  Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of University of Galway’s College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, welcomed the trial. He said: “Leading this research from Galway is consistent with the University strategy to be a global leader in cardiovascular research and innovation and the presence of CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, in the University. We are particularly happy to partner with SINOMED on this project which aligns with the University’s Global Galway project.” Dr Jianhua Sun, PhD., chairman and chief executive officer of SINOMED, said: “We are honoured to be working with the prestigious thought leaders at University of Galway in searching for a better and safer strategy for treating patients. We believe that our HT Supreme, coupled with an optimal treatment strategy can make a big impact in bringing a greater benefit to patients.”  Ends  

Monday, 17 May 2021

ONK Therapeutics Enters into a Research Agreement with University of Galway to Support Optimization of its Dual-Targeted NK Cell Therapy against AML  Agreement with University of Galway, supervised by leading expert in the cellular environment in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML), Dr. Eva Szegezdi Funded by ONK Therapeutics, the research will support engineering and optimization of its dual-targeted NK cell therapy candidate for AML (ONKT104) Aims to explore the potential added benefit of certain gene edits to enhance NK cell cytotoxicity, cytokine production and persistence in the cancer microenvironment in the context of AML ONK Therapeutics Ltd, an innovative natural killer (NK) cell therapy company, today announced that it has entered into a research collaboration with the National University of Ireland, Galway (University of Galway) which provides access to unique expertise in evaluating the cancer cell microenvironment in Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML) and targeting of AML stem cells in models mimicking the bone marrow microenvironment. The research will support the optimization of ONK Therapeutics’ dual-targeted NK cell therapy program, ONKT104, being developed for the treatment of AML. ONK Therapeutics will fund a year-long research program in the laboratory of Dr. Eva Szegezdi, lecturer in Biochemistry, University of Galway, Head of the Blood Cancer Network Ireland. She has particular expertise in the AML microenvironment as well as cell death pathways, especially those initiated by ‘so-called’ death ligands (e.g. TRAIL) used by effector immune cells.  AML is the most common form of acute leukemia in adults. It is estimated that some 21,000 patients in the US and 18,000 in Europe are diagnosed with AML each year. It has a high unmet medical need having the lowest survival rate of all types of leukemia. ONKT104 is a dual-targeted NK cell engineered to express a humanized scFv targeting the leukemic stem cell antigen CLL-1 (also known as CLEC12A) obtained through an option license agreement from Cellerant Therapeutics, together with ONK Therapeutics’ proprietary high-affinity TRAIL variant, targeting death receptor 4 (DR4). CLL-1 is selectively expressed on leukemic stem cells with no expression on normal hematopoietic stem cells, which ensures safer targeting and a lower risk of prolonged toxicity to normal bone marrow cells.  In pre-clinical research studies, a monoclonal antibody therapy targeting CLL-1 has revealed potential efficacy against AML cells and shown to be effective in reducing AML burden in a xenograft model. In addition, a CLL-1 CAR-T cell model has shown promising pre-clinical activity and has recently entered the clinic. ONK Therapeutics believes its dual-targeted NK cell therapy approach may have several advantages over a CAR-T approach including shorter persistence of NK cells, reducing the risk of sustained neutropenia; proven inherent anti-AML activity of NK cells; the reduced likelihood of toxicity due to cytokine release syndrome or neurotoxicity; and the logistically simpler allogeneic, off-the-shelf nature of NK cells, reducing time to treatment once suitable patients are identified. AML is a very challenging disease in which to achieve sustained, long term disease control due to the high plasticity and adaptability of AML stem cells, and the tendency for resistant cells to emerge and grow. In addition to targeting CLL-1, this project will evaluate multi-targeted approaches by combined targeting of other leukemia stem cell antigens. ONK Therapeutics’ founder and CSO Prof Michael O’Dwyer said, “Alongside our in-house research, the project team at University of Galway will explore construct design, as well as the potential added benefit of certain gene edits to enhance NK cell cytotoxicity, cytokine production and persistence in the context of AML strengthening our ONKT104 program. The aim is to select an optimized candidate to take forward into clinical development as a treatment for patients with relapsed/refractory AML.” Dr. Eva Szegezdi said, “The project will evaluate different constructs that may be able to achieve synergistic killing of cancer cells and reduce the emergence of disease resistance. These include the co-expression of CARs targeting other AML antigens, in addition to CLL-1, such as CD96, TIM3, and CD38 alongside the TRAIL variant.” ONK Therapeutics was formed based on technology and intellectual property developed at University of Galway by Prof. Michael O’Dwyer, who retains his academic position as Professor of Haematology, Consultant Haematologist and HRB Clinician Scientist, alongside his role at the company. Over the past 12 months, ONK Therapeutics has expanded its team and operations at its headquarters and R&D facility in Ireland’s med-tech hub in Galway, where it now has 16 employees, with an additional 5 employees based in its US subsidiary in San Diego. -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

Research on Driving Remote Innovation is published in MIT Sloan Management Review Research from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics in collaboration with Dublin City University has been published in the prestigious US publication, MIT Sloan Management Review. The research 'Driving Remote Innovation Through Conflict and Collaboration' examined how business leaders can promote innovation in remote teams. The research uncovered two complementary principles of leading remote teams for innovation - connecting for collaboration and connecting for contradiction – which are both essential to creating opportunities for innovation. In the absence of face-to-face interactions, the research suggests that leaders must purposely connect with their immediate team members one-to-one, to enable more engaged exchanges of collaboration required for innovation and understanding and responding to the individual challenges of team members. Remote working can be a boon for innovation by enabling greater diversity of views, supporting connecting for contradiction. Virtual conversations can include external experts and remotely located colleagues as they are much more cost- and time-efficient to organise than in-person meetings. This tactic of exaggerating differences in opinions and expertise is required to encourage more vigorous debate and stimulate fresh ideas for innovation in remote working. Operating in tandem, these two approaches ensure that leaders create a virtual culture where new ideas arise, the most promising of which can be translated into innovative outcomes to help ensure the long-term success and delivery of the organisation's strategic goals. The study was led by Esther Tippmann, Professor of Strategy at University of Galway, Pamela, Sharkey Scott, Professor of Strategy and International Business at DCU and Mark Gantly, Adjunct Professor of Management at University of Galway. To better understand the long-term implications of the Covid-19 pandemic for leadership, the research team collected detailed interview data from 20 leaders in different household name US multinationals across the world. They included a mix of young, high-growth organisations and well-established global giants, and firms with digital and physical offerings. They examined what the leaders saw as the long-term implications of the pandemic on their organisation (if any) and what leadership competences they foresee as most important. Professor Esther Tippmann, University of Galway, said: “Organisations have traditionally relied on the energy of co-present teams to stimulate ideas for innovation. Before the pandemic, many leading innovative organisations invested heavily in attractive workplaces. However, office work had to be abandoned when the Covid-19 pandemic demanded an incredibly fast transition to remote working. Now, it is clear that remote working, in a managed way, is here to stay. With productivity goals being largely met, we found that many organisations find it challenging to embed innovation in their remote teams. So, the leadership principles for driving innovation in remote teams offer explicit guidance for leaders. We studied multinationals located in Ireland. However, the principles are of relevance to all types of organisations where remote working is an integral part of the organisational model.” To read 'Driving Remote Innovation Through Conflict and Collaboration' in MIT Sloan Management Review, visit: Ends

Monday, 19 April 2021

University of Galway partners in week-long technology festival highlighting how companies are turning to cloud computing platforms to drive digital transformation to shape the future of work    The AtlanTec Festival is set to return again in 2021, with virtual events from 17-21 May on the theme of ‘Thriving through Digital Transformation’. The event is supported by University of Galway, and run by itag (Innovation Technology AtlanTec Gateway), the non-profit, industry-led community of technology companies in the west of Ireland.   Now in its 7th year, the annual AtlanTec Festival of Technology brings together technology communities from home and abroad, for five days of international keynote speakers, moderated panel conversations, tech talks, fun and inspiration. Last year over 3,000 people connected online at AtlanTec, proving that though times may be uncertain, one fact remains true, there is power in people coming together.    Thriving through Digital Transformation highlights that increasingly, companies are turning to Cloud Computing platforms to drive their Digital Transformation; not just for their business needs, but also to shape their Future of Work. This festival brings together local, national and international speakers to explore some of the key challenges and opportunities this presents.   This year’s dynamic panel of international keynote speakers and panel guests includes: Nicklas Bergman (Futurist), Bruce Daisley (The Joy of Work), Dr. Jessica Barker (Cyber UK), Gary Short (Data Scientist AMEY), Sarah Armstrong (Microsoft Cyber Consultant) and Marek Zmuda (Intel Movidius).   University of Galway speakers will include: Dr Venkatesh Kannan on how the Quantum Computing work at the Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) is positioning Ireland in Europe and globally; Jim Duggan, Personal Professor in Computer Science, on his work on infectious disease modelling; Dr Ed Curry on data sharing spaces to power AI; and Dr Noel Carroll, Programme Director of the MSc Information Systems Management on his work related to digital transformation and citizen development. Itag’s AtlanTec Festival is a key event in Ireland’s tech conference calendar and is supported by the technology cluster along the AtlanTec Gateway including Cisco, Genesys, Fidelity Investments, HPE, IBM, Storm, University of Galway and itag Skillnet and many more.   According to Caroline Cawley, CEO itag, “AtlanTec 2021 brings together people and companies re-defining the global Tech industry. We will welcome people from all around the world this May and they are coming to AtlanTec 2021 to learn about the latest trends to drive their Digital Transformation and the latest thinking and the newest products that will shape their Future of Work. Thriving through Digital Transformation answers a key question facing all Tech companies - where to next?”  Ruth Hynes, a member of the event organising committee and Innovation and Engagement Officer at University of Galway, added: “There is a real sense of coming together with AtlanTec, even if we are doing so remotely again this year rather than on campus. So much innovation in technology comes out of our part of the world, from the start-up community right through to companies that are household names. As a university we are proud to be part of this dynamic ecosystem and look forward to the festival in May.” Rapid transformation and change is a key feature of the technology industry and staying up-to-date can be challenging. AtlanTec 2021 offers a comprehensive platform to all in the technology community including IT Professionals, Developers, Cloud and Cyber Experts, IT Leaders and Technologists for deep knowledge gathering and networking.                                  Registration is required to attend, to book your place visit:  Follow on Twitter @atlantecfest and on Facebook at AtlanTec Festival. View short AtlanTec video here:   Ends 

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

CARE CONNECT project aims to build on the successful 'ICU FamilyLink' platform in the absence of healthcare face-to-face support during the pandemic Children in Paediatrics have already nicknamed the social robot "SuperMario!" Platform aims to provide support to critical care settings, end-of-life situations, and vulnerable patients that rely on family for support Researchers at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at University of Galway, supported by global technology company, Cisco's Country Digital Acceleration programme, are launching the CARE CONNECT project that will see social robot 'MARIO', used alongside a video-conferencing platform to improve patient-family communications in Paediatrics. During the first wave of Covid-19, a bespoke video-conferencing platform called 'ICU FamilyLink' was successfully implemented at University Hospital Galway to connect patients in critical care to their families. The CARE CONNECT project aims to build on this successful pilot and extend beyond the Intensive Care Unit to other healthcare settings impacted by Covid-19 while also looking to the future use of telemedicine in Ireland post-pandemic. Existing technology, including teleconferencing platforms, social robots, and digital tools, have been rapidly adopted since Covid-19. Due to Covid-19, visiting restrictions were introduced in healthcare settings worldwide. These pandemic-related restrictions create a problem as regular face-to-face communication is severely impacted. This problem will likely last for months, even years, due to the unpredictable nature of Covid-19. While restrictions may fluctuate, physical visiting will probably be limited in comparison to pre-pandemic times. Therefore, the need to create effective alternative modes of communication across multiple healthcare settings is immediate, urgent, and, unfortunately, a long-term need. Professor Derek O'Keeffe, CÚRAM Investigator and project lead at University of Galway explains: "The Covid-19 pandemic has restricted patient's families from visiting them in hospital and healthcare settings and therefore isolating them from their loved ones. Communication is a vital part of providing medical care and addressing patients' biopsychosocial needs and their families. This is particularly important in critical care settings, end-of-life situations, and vulnerable patients who rely on family support. It is widely accepted in clinical care that effective communication is key to reducing the psychological burden for patients and their families and patients. "The CARE CONNECT project also builds on our University of Galway experience in healthcare robotics using the MARIO platform, which was an EU funded project led by my collaborator Professor Dympna Casey. Our first study will be using social robot MARIO with our video-conferencing platform to improve patient-family communications in Paediatrics, where the children have already nicknamed him "SuperMario"! We will examine the efficacy of using our system to remotely educate parents and family members about the management of newly diagnosed acute medical conditions, such as Type 1 Diabetes." Dr Aoife Murray, clinician-researcher and a University of Galway BioInnovate Ireland alumna, who was part of the ICU FamilyLink core team, says: "The key to the successful implementation of telemedicine and digital solutions is tailoring the solution to meet patient's and healthcare provider's needs. The Medtech and Technology ecosystem in Galway and longstanding relationships with University Hospital Galway create the perfect environment to develop and test technology to ensure it is effective and appropriate for a healthcare setting." Shane Heraty, Cisco Country Manager, Ireland and Scotland, said: "Helping people remain connected throughout this unprecedented time, and in these challenging circumstances, is something that we are incredibly proud of. This project and our partnership with CÚRAM brings the perfect blend of expertise together to enable us to have a direct and significant impact on patient wellbeing. "We are committed to building a digital and inclusive society, and having successfully implemented the ICU FamilyLink project at the start of the pandemic, we welcome the opportunity to build on it to bring the platform to a broader patient group." For more information about CÚRAM visit or Follow on Twitter @CURAMdevices. -Ends-

Friday, 19 March 2021

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre for Medical Devices, based at University of Galway, has announced two new tripartite partnerships as part of the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership Programme. These partnerships will develop new technologies to treat cardiovascular disease and create new mechanisms for large-scale transport of high-quality therapeutic cells. The US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership is a unique initiative involving funding agencies across three jurisdictions: the United States, The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, with the goal of increasing collaborative Research and Development amongst researchers and industry across the three jurisdictions. This collaboration aims to generate valuable discoveries and innovations that are transferable to the marketplace or lead to enhancements in health, disease prevention, or healthcare. Dr Siobhan Roche, Director of Science for the Economy at SFI, said: "I am delighted to announce these two new partnerships involving CÚRAM. Our national SFI Research Centre network puts Ireland in a firm position to meet and respond to global challenges. International collaborations between leading research institutes such as these can accelerate innovation and create valuable global healthcare advances. We look forward to sharing their successes." The first partnership is the Cardiac Organoid Systems Partnership, driven by a shared understanding of the fundamental need to develop regenerative medicine technologies to treat cardiovascular disease. The primary approach of cardiac tissue engineering is to create cardiac grafts that can be efficiently implanted, regenerating the tissue and giving rise to a fully functional heart without causing side effects. Recently, there has been considerable effort to develop functional scaffolds that are designed for cardiac repair. These scaffolds help recreate or mimic the body's environment to allow cells embedded in the scaffolds to reach their full biological potential. Beyond developing engineered scaffolds for repairing cardiac tissue, the ability to scale-up the fabrication of these scaffolds is critical to their successful translation into everyday clinical practice. Professor David Bishop, Director of the CELL-MET ERC at Boston University, said: "The creation of functional engineered cardiac tissue with electromechanical properties that mimic the human heart on a scalable platform has the potential to transform the treatment of chronic heart disease. The fabrication of scaffolds is an interdisciplinary challenge combining chemical, biological, and physical properties." Professor Gerard O'Connor, School of Physics, University of Galway, explains: "Of all of the causes of cardiovascular disease, ischaemic heart disease remains a major cause of death worldwide. Cardiac tissue and cells damaged during a heart attack, for instance, cannot regenerate and are usually replaced by fibrotic scar tissue, which means that the only option for patients with end-stage heart disease is whole heart transplantation. Tissue engineering holds enormous promise for restoring functionality in these scarred regions of the damaged heart." The Cardiac Organoid Systems Partnership is a collaboration between the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Centre (ERC) for Cellular Metamaterials (CELL-MET), headquartered at Boston University, CÚRAM the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices, and the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (WWIEM) at Queens University Belfast. The Global Cell Manufacturing and Delivery Partnership is the second new collaboration for CÚRAM under the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership Programme. For this three-year project, CÚRAM is collaborating with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Centre (ERC) for Cell Manufacturing Technologies (CMaT), headquartered at Georgia Institute of Technology, and the Wellcome-Wolfson Institute for Experimental Medicine (WWIEM) at Queens University Belfast. The aim of this research team's partnership is to use their combined expertise in biomaterials, characterisation and production of clinically-relevant cell types, to develop the technology to allow for the transport of high-quality, therapeutic cells at room or ambient temperature. The partners will scale-up, model and test a hydrogel-based system and make it clinical trial-ready. Professor Garry Duffy, CÚRAM project lead and Professor of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine, University of Galway, said: "Cell therapies represent the next generation of therapeutic products that have the potential to regenerate damaged or degenerating tissues and treat a broad range of chronic illnesses. One of the global challenges that need to be resolved in order to make these therapies broadly available is the challenge of how to transport and distribute these cells. The key aim of this partnership is to develop a system that will allow us to transport cells for several days in ambient conditions, eliminating the need for cryopreservation for transport." Cryopreservation, which is currently required to transport cells, can negatively affect cell potency. Ultimately this partnership aims to solve a critical challenge of transportation and distribution to improve access to and reduce the cost of these therapies globally. Professor Krishnendu Roy, Director of the NSF ERC, Georgia Institute of Technology, said: "This partnership builds on CMaT and CÚRAM’s complementary expertise and brings together existing industry and academic networks and infrastructure to address a significant unmet need in cell therapy manufacturing and supply-chain. Low-cost, ambient temperature transport of cellular therapies with minimal cold-chain requirement is a global grand-challenge, and by coming together under this partnership, we hope to develop the technical and regulatory knowledge required to address it and improve quality of life for patients with chronic illness worldwide." This unique partnership's broader implications will be the stimulation of an innovation network between the US, Ireland, and the UK in cell manufacturing and cell therapies transport. This project will provide the groundwork for the realisation of greater access to cell therapies and nurture a climate of innovation and creativity in research-led, clinically informed, and industry influenced problem-solving for cell manufacturing. -Ends-

Thursday, 18 March 2021

A joint investment of €13.5 million was today announced through a tripartite research and development partnership between the United States, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The seven awards will support more than 60 research positions across 14 research institutions, for three to five years. CÚRAM based at University of Galway will collaborate in two research projects. The US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership, launched in July 2006, is a unique initiative that aims to increase the level of collaborative Research and Development amongst researchers and industry professionals across the three jurisdictions. The programme involves multiple funding partners across the three jurisdictions, working together collaboratively to support the most excellent and impactful research. The funding agencies involved in the awards announced today (17 March 2021) are Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and the Health Research Board (HRB) in the Republic of Ireland; the National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the USA, and the Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (HSC R&D) and the Department for the Economy (DfE) in Northern Ireland. Welcoming the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “The US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme continues to support and encourage strong collaborative relationships between our countries. It recognises and highlights Ireland’s significant scientific standing internationally and the societal and economic benefits that can be realised when we work beyond our borders. I wish all of the partners every success in this important collaboration.” The programme, which uses a ‘single-proposal, single-review’ approach, focuses on prioritised thematic areas, including sensors, nanoscale science and engineering, telecommunications, energy and sustainability, and health. The Irish components of research projects in the area of health are jointly co-funded by SFI with the Health Research Board. Professor Garry Duffy, CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at University of Galway, is partnering with Queen’s University Belfast and the Georgia Institute of Technology (US) led NSF Engineering Research Centre for Cell Manufacturing Technologies to develop a Global Cell Manufacturing and Delivery partnership. The team aims to develop technologies to allow ambient transfer of complex cell-based therapies for chronic disease including heart disease and non-healing wounds, which could reduce the costs of cell products while maintaining their safety and potency. The partners will scale-up, model and test a hydrogel-based ambient transport system to make it clinical trial ready. Professor Gerard O’Connor, CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at University of Galway,is working withQueen’s University Belfast (NI) and Boston University (US) in a Cardiac Organoid Systems Partnership to create a functional engineered cardiac tissue with electromechanical properties that mimic native human myocardium on a scalable laser-enabled manufacturing platform with the potential to transform the treatment of chronic heart disease. Commenting on the awards, Health Research Board Chief Executive, Dr Mairéad O'Driscoll said: “Health research makes a real difference to people’s lives. We’ve seen how the recent pandemic has sparked huge public interest in both health and research. The HRB plays an essential role in advancing research, and is committed to supporting highly innovative international collaboration through the US-Ireland R&D Programme. I welcome the announcement of these new awards, which will generate health benefits in Ireland and internationally.” In congratulating the researchers on these awards,Dr Janice Bailie, Assistant Director,  Health and Social Care (HSC) Research and Development, Northern Ireland, said: “More than ever, we can see the immense value of international research collaboration, as supported by the US Ireland R&D Programme. This bringing together of researchers from across Ireland and the US is strengthening knowledge transfer and improving health outcomes with global impact.”   Trevor Cooper, Director of Higher Education in the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland, said: “The US-Ireland R&D Partnership supports ground-breaking trans-Atlantic research which will help to further develop Northern Ireland’s research and innovation capabilities, driving competition with the potential to deliver significant economic impact.” For more information on the programme, visit -Ends-

Monday, 15 March 2021

Project will target development of next generation Artificial Intelligence and machine learning for customer experience solutions The Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics at University of Galway has joined forces with US-headquartered Avaya, a global leader in solutions to enhance and simplify communications and collaboration, in a new collaborative research programme to develop and test the next generation of Artificial Intelligence (AI). The research programme will explore the development and deployment of new types of machine learning AI that is expected to deliver more advanced automation and data mining in contact center applications. The joint research can help Avaya implement smarter and faster AI capabilities in its communications and collaboration solutions, to deliver exceptional customer experiences and improve operational efficiency. Professor Mathieu d’Aquin, Site Director for Insight University of Galway and Principal Investigator on the project, said: “Hundreds of millions of people around the world are consumers of ever-improving AI, developed in the hope of making their experiences better while simultaneously improving business efficiency. Essentially the research we will conduct and systems we will test, thanks to the partnership with Avaya, is all part of making those improvements.” Mike Conroy, vice-president of R&D at Avaya, said: “Our plan in partnering with Insight, one of the largest dedicated Analytics & AI Research centres in Europe, is to develop next generation customer experience through better real-time insights and context powered by new AI methods. By partnering in this project with Insight at University of Galway, we can help our customers and end users realise even greater levels of augmented AI experience across seamlessly blended automated and assisted customer engagement channels.”  Professor Mark Ferguson, Science Foundation Ireland Director General and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, welcomed the announcement. He said: “Insight SFI Research Centre for data analytics is part of the world-leading SFI Research Centre network which develops industry partnerships and promotes collaborative research with Irish academic institutions, stimulating valuable knowledge exchange. This elevates Ireland’s international reputation for research excellence with impact while developing a competitive edge in emerging technologies with real-world business applications. We look forward to the opportunities that this collaboration will create.” Ends 

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

University of Galway has announced the appointment of Professor Jim Livesey as Vice-President for Research and Innovation. Professor Livesey joins from the University of Dundee, where he served as Dean of Humanities since 2014. Hailing from Cork City, Professor Livesey holds two degrees and a Masters in History from UCC, and a PhD in Modern History from Harvard University. Since then he has had a varied career, with posts at Harvard, Trinity, and Sussex as well as research and visiting appointments in France, the US, and China. He will bring his global experience, and his background in research leadership, to bear on the strategic development of University of Galway. Professor Livesey is a global historian, whose research focus centres on the transformative effect of new kinds of knowledge for collective action. His work has examined the process of democratisation, the creation of the concept of civil society, and most recently, looked at science, technology and finance in provincial Europe. He refers to himself as an applied eighteenth-century historian, and his research has opened doors for partnership-based work in the Creative Economy, particularly as Co-Director of Dundee’s InGAME: Innovation for Games and Media Enterprise. The £11.5 million creative research and development centre is based on the experience and expertise surrounding the Scottish city’s games cluster. Professor Livesey will now lead University of Galway’s research and innovation mission, building on the university’s significant successes in recent years. He takes on the new role just as the EU’s Horizon Europe funding programme for research and innovation launches, where the university will look to build on its success in the Horizon 2020 programme. Professor Livesey commented: ”I am delighted to take on this responsibility at University of Galway. I’ve admired the creativity and quality of the research here for many years. The values of respect, openness, sustainability and excellence that animate the university are solid foundations on which to build research of global significance, with national and regional impact. I look forward to working with the research teams in the university as well as regional, national, and international partners as we identify where Galway can make the greatest contribution to research across the domains.” University of Galway has over 2,500 staff and students engaged in research across multiple disciplines, and an international reputation for being research-driven. The university has significantly developed the innovation and entrepreneurship landscape, including business incubation and spin-out activity. President of University of Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, said: "We warmly welcome Professor Jim Livesey to University of Galway and look forward to working with him in our collective contribution to our university community and for the public good as we embark on the next chapter of our research journey as a university. "Professor Livesey brings immense experience in research management, grant capture, and stakeholder engagement to his new post. He has extensive experience of international research collaboration and of researcher development. He will offer a strong voice representing the research community in the university’s senior management as well as among policy makers nationally and internationally. Given his track record of high quality research and publication, he will promote excellence in research and innovation, respect for the evidence, openness to developing and disseminating new ideas and sustaining our research culture and institutions, true to the university’s values.” Prior to joining the University of Dundee as Professor of History in 2013, Professor Livesey undertook academic roles in the University of Sussex, Harvard University and Trinity College Dublin in the fields of  Global History, French History, Atlantic History, Intellectual History, Creative Economies Research.  To hear more about Research and Innovation at University of Galway visit: -Ends-

Monday, 22 February 2021

CÚRAM publishes new research on the potential of injectable hydrogels to repair heart muscle damage after a heart attack Researchers at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at University of Galway, and BIOFORGE Lab, at the University of Valladolid in Spain, have developed an injectable hydrogel that could help repair and prevent further damage to the heart muscle after a heart attack. The results of their research have just been published in the prestigious journal Science Translational Medicine. Myocardial infarction or heart disease is a leading cause of death due to the irreversible damage caused to the heart muscle (cardiac tissue) during a heart attack. The regeneration of cardiac tissue is minimal so that the damage caused cannot be repaired by itself. Current treatments lack an effective method to prevent death and subsequent cardiac tissue repair following a heart attack. "This project involved the development and testing of an elastin-based hydrogel derived from a naturally occurring biomaterial in the human body", explains Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at University of Galway and project lead. The hydrogel is based on a family of unique biomaterials, called elastin-like recombinamers, that BIOFORGE-UVa had developed in the search for advanced hydrogels for regenerative medicine. "The hydrogel was developed to mimic the environment around the heart following an infarction and then customised to have the ability to protect and promote regeneration of the cardiac tissue", says Professor Pandit. The therapeutic effect of multiple injections of this hydrogel into the cardiac tissue was assessed during the first-ever preclinical study of its kind, demonstrating its efficacy for cardiac tissue remodelling following a heart attack. The international research team, which included researchers from Ireland, Spain, Sweden, France and Italy, were able to show that if their hydrogel was injected into the heart muscle shortly after a heart attack, it resulted in less fibrosis (scarring of the cardiac tissue) and an increase in the generation of new blood vessels in the area. They were also able to observe the rise in the preservation and survival of cardiomyocytes, a type of cell that allows the heart to beat, in the affected area. Professor Abhay Pandit added: "This project demonstrates the efficacy of a unique biomaterial-only system able to induce a positive healing effect on cardiac tissue following a heart attack event. The functional benefits obtained by the timely injection of the hydrogel supports and highlights the potential use of this treatment in the clinic. The next step will be to develop a prototype for a delivery system for the hydrogel." Professor Mark Da Costa, Cardiothoracic Surgeon, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, University of Galway and senior co-author of the study, said: "In this study, we employed a model to specifically look at a type of heart attack that has increased in incidence and is not often treated until the acute phase resolves. Scar tissue that forms after the heart attack often remodels negatively, causing future problems like heart failure. The timely injection of this hydrogel appears to change the way the heart muscle heals after a heart attack. There is a significant positive histological, biological and functional recovery of the injured heart muscle. Work is progressing now to deliver this to the sites of injury in different clinical settings and will be followed with translation into a clinical trial.” The full research team also involved John Newell, Michelle Kilcoyne, Peter Owens and Peter Dockery from University of Galway, CÚRAM PhD graduate Paolo Contessotto, Doriana Orbanić and José C. Rodríguez-Cabello from the BIOFORGE Lab at the University of Valladolid in Spain, Chunsheng Jin and Niclas G. Karlsson from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, Sandrine Chantepie and Dulce Papy-Garcia from the Laboratory Cell Growth, Tissue Repair and Regeneration at the University Paris Est, Créteil, France, and Clizia Chinello and Fulvio Magni from the University of Milano-Bicocca, Vedano al Lambro, Italy. CÚRAM's research focuses on developing diagnostic devices, biomedical implants, cell-device and drug-device combination products to address unmet clinical needs. The recent announcement of a €46 million reinvestment in CÚRAM by Science Foundation Ireland in February 2021, demonstrates the Government's strong commitment to the MedTech industry in Ireland, supporting the continuation of substantial academic, industry and clinical collaborations that are central to CÚRAM's work. To access the full paper, visit   -Ends-

Monday, 15 February 2021

Competitions focus on sustainable solutions in the area of food waste and plastics. Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris, TD, today announced the 15 teams that have been shortlisted as part of the SFI Future Innovator Prize, including two teams collaborating with researchers from NUI Galway. The two challenge-based prize programmes, with a prize fund of €2 million each, as part of the SFI Future Innovator Prize, are calling on the research teams to develop innovative solutions to food waste and plastics. Five teams have been shortlisted under the SFI Food Challenge and 10 under the SFI Plastics Challenge. At the end of the 12-month programme two overall winners will be announced. The two NUI Galway collaborations shortlisted under the SFI Plastics Challenge include: Turnkey, a project between NUI Galway researcher Corine Nzeteu, with Ramesh Babu Padamati (TCD), and Stephen Nolan (Green Generation). The team’s challenge will look at turning plastic and food waste into key value-added products; Green Lab Services (GLaS) team of Una FitzGerald (NUI Galway), Michael McCormack (Irish Manufacturing Research), and Sinéad Ní Mhainín (Connacht-Ulster Regional Waste Management Office) who will look at Ireland's lab plastic problem. Congratulating the competing teams, Minister Harris said: “I am delighted to announce the fifteen teams who will go on to compete as part of the SFI Future Innovator Prize. The SFI Future Innovator Prize is a challenge- based prize funding programme that seeks to support Ireland’s best and brightest, to develop novel, potentially disruptive, technologies to address significant societal challenges. On this occasion, it is about tackling food and plastic waste. I am really excited to see the outcome of their work and the response to these key national challenges.” The SFI Food Challenge will support the development of sustainable solutions to reduce food loss and waste across the full breadth of the food supply chain, addressing topics such as premature spoilage of fruit and vegetables; undernutrition and promoting healthy aging through optimisation of diet; the shelf-life salad leaves; valorising food waste into value added commodities and waste in the fishing industry. The SFI Plastics Challenge will support the development of innovative STEM-led solutions that will enable the sustainable use of plastics in a circular economy, restore and preserve our oceans’ health, and maximise how we use the earth's finite resources. The projects aim to address problems across a number of strategic challenge areas including removing plastics from coastal areas; reducing reliance on single use plastics in laboratories; upcycling plastic waste and utilising plastic waste for sustainable battery technologies. Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General, SFI and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “I would like to congratulate the fifteen teams who have been shortlisted as part of the SFI Future Innovator Prize competition. We have seen a fantastic calibre of innovative thinking and truly novel approaches as part of the submissions, and I look forward to seeing the different solutions that develop in the areas of food waste and enabling the sustainable use of plastics, as the competition continues. I would like to commend each team on their hard work and dedication, and to wish them every success in the rest of the competition.” The SFI Future Innovator Prize, funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Science through Science Foundation Ireland, is part of an overall government plan to cultivate challenge-based funding in Ireland. -Ends-

Monday, 15 February 2021

CÚRAM SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, will present a webinar and series of panel discussions with EU policy makers and Medtech industry leaders in the European Union. The event takes place on Tuesday, 16 February. The webinar will bring together leading researchers from industry and academia, along with policymakers and regulators to consider a consolidated research agenda for medical devices within the context of the European Union’s Horizon Europe programme, which began in January 2021. The titled webinar 'A Research Agenda for Medical Devices in the EU' will present key recent developments in next-generation medical device technologies and their potential to impact health outcomes and improve the quality of life for patients with chronic illnesses. It will also consider the enabling policy and the regulatory environment necessary to sustain the competitiveness of this highly innovative European sector. The webinar will be hosted by Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM at NUI Galway. High profile speakers attending the event include Sean Kelly MEP, Maria da Graça Carvalho, MEP, Professor Mark Ferguson, SFI Director General, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland and Chair of the European Innovation Council Advisory Board and Karina Angelieva, Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Bulgaria. The webinar will consist of eight panel sessions led by research and industry leaders across the US and EU and will be attended by MEPs. The panel topics include: Medical Device Research in Europe; Artificial Intelligence Medical Devices; Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products; Global Perspectives: Medical Devices for the Sustainable Development Goals; Regulation; Research; Data Infrastructures and Science Capacity Building for Medical Devices; Skills and Education for a Competitive Future. In advance of the webinar, CÚRAM has launched a consultation White Paper providing stakeholders with the opportunity to contribute to a medical devices research agenda for the European Union. This research agenda aims to help inform EU level decision-making, such as the implementation of Horizon Europe (the research and innovation framework programme running from 2021-2027), as well as national and regional research agendas. It will also serve as a reference document to advance partnerships and innovative collaborations to address pressing global challenges. CÚRAM aims to radically improve health outcomes for patients by developing ‘smart’ medical devices and implants. It develops these devices through collaborations with industry partners and hospital groups to enable their rapid translation to clinics, positioning Ireland as the driver in developing medical device technologies that will provide affordable transformative solutions for chronic diseases. CÚRAM’s researchers are designing and manufacturing implants to respond to the body’s environment and delivering therapeutic agents exactly where they are needed and its outputs will particularly benefit patients with chronic ailments such as heart disease, wound healing, diabetes and musculoskeletal diseases. For full agenda and speakers details, visit: -Ends-

Thursday, 28 January 2021

⦁ Testing of next generation blades for tidal and river-current turbines stretch from Alaska to Scotland  ⦁ Fatigue and static testing of tidal blade model designs completed for the largest tidal turbine in the world Over the past 12 months, a research team in the SFI MaREI Centre at NUI Galway have made a significant contribution to technology development in the marine energy sector, by delivering three full-scale structural testing programmes to de-risk blade components to allow for commercial and operational trials in Alaska and Scotland. The research team worked with industry partners Suzlon Energy (wind energy developer), Ocean Renewable Power Company (tidal energy developer), Orbital Marine Power (tidal energy developer) and ÉireComposites (wind/tidal OEM). Tomás Flanagan, CEO of Éirecomposites, said: “Our research collaborations with the MaREI Centre at NUI Galway has resulted in moving our blade technology from technology readiness level (TRL) 6 to 9 and the company has attracted commercial contracts for manufacturing tidal turbine blades, and securing these jobs over the long term. “For example, at the start of 2020, we worked on a testing programme with Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) and NUI Galway to de-risk the turbine blade components for the ORPC RivGen® Turbine that we were manufacturing in our facilities in Galway. Due to the successful completion of the structural testing of the turbine in NUI Galway, RivGen® has since been installed in Igiugig, Alaska, where it provides clean, predictable electricity for a remote community, which previously relied solely on energy generation from diesel generators.” Testing to prove tidal blade's twenty-year design life is a world first In 2020, ÉireComposites also built the world’s strongest tidal blade, which has been tested in the large structures testing laboratory in the MaREI Centre at NUI Galway. Through the SEAI funded SEABLADE and Horizon 2020 Marinet2 testing programmes in NUI Galway, a static load of 1,004kN (over 100 tonnes or equivalent to 10 double decker buses) was applied to a tidal turbine blade – the highest load to be reported ever in the world. Following this, the blade was subjected to fatigue testing to prove the blade’s twenty year design life, which is a hugely important step forward in the certification of tidal turbine blades required for full commercialisation. This achievement has had a major impact on the tidal energy sector, while demonstrating the advanced capabilities of the project partners. To date, the testing has validated the models used to design the blade and the manufacturing process, paving the way for Orbital Marine Power’s O2-2000 device to be deployed in 2021, where it will become the largest tidal turbine in the world. According to Finlay Wallace, Blades Manager at Orbital Marine Power: “Collaborating with the MaREI Centre at NUI Galway and ÉireComposites to develop composite tidal turbine blade technology as part of the EU Horizon 2020 Flotec project opened up opportunities to prove the static and fatigue strength of a full sized composite tidal turbine blade structure through the Marinet2 and Ocean Era Net programmes. “We took on a close collaborative approach, working with the project partners during planning and execution of the test program. We were thrilled to successfully demonstrate the blade static and fatigue strength, validating our design approach for composite blades. This represents a critical step in de-risking the path for larger more powerful turbine blades with lower cost of energy.” Development of a component for preventing leading-edge erosion on offshore wind turbine blades In 2020, the MaREI team in the Ryan Institute and School of Engineering at NUI Galway also completed the EASME-funded €1.5 million LEAPWind Project, which was in response to Suzlon Energy’s need to develop a component for preventing leading-edge erosion on offshore wind turbine blades. New components developed at ÉireComposites are now undertaking full-scale operational trials on wind turbines in Scotland, which may result in the new component being used on all future Suzlon blades, where they currently have an installed capacity of over 18,800MW worldwide. That installed capacity is, on average, enough to supply the electrical needs of over 8 million households. Structural testing of components for preventing leading-edge erosion on wind turbine blades was completed at NUI Galway, including static and fatigue testing of representative sections of full-scale blades. According to Sandro Di Noi, Innovation and Strategic Research Manager at Suzlon Energy Blades Technology B.V.: “The cooperation and the results achieved within the innovative LEAPWind project increased the SE Blades Technology (knowledge about wind blades leading edge protection technology in an off-shore environment. “The successful static and fatigue testing of the leading edge protection component (known as LEP) on a representative full-scale blade performed at NUI-Galway delivered a professional and “ready to use” report. The results allows us to move forward with the thermoplastic LEP solution developed by ÉireComposites.” Local social impact in the West of Ireland Tomás Flanagan, CEO of Éirecomposites adds: “The collaboration with the team based in the SFI MaREI Centre at NUI Galway has helped secure ÉireComposites’ long term viability and safeguard jobs in the Connemara Gaeltacht. This is as a result of a long number of years of working closely in partnership with researchers and academics in NUI Galway to foster an innovative ecosystem for lightweight high-performance large-scale fibre-reinforced composite structures across a range of applications, including aviation, space, marine and renewable energy – wind, tidal and river-current.” Professor Jamie Goggins, Principal Investigator in the SFI MaREI Centre and Director of Research and Innovation in the School of Engineering at NUI Galway, said: “Despite the restrictions in place due to COVID-19 in 2020, together with our project partners we have made significant contributions to the marine energy industry, in particular through our collaborations with ÉireComposites, ORPC, Orbital Marine Power and Suzlon Energy. “Having already secured new collaborative research projects to develop and test the next generation blades for tidal and river-current turbines we’re hopeful for another successful year in 2021. We are very grateful for the support of Science Foundation Ireland, Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and the European Commission through the H2020 and EASME-funded programmes. This has helped secure the reputation of the MaREI Centre as a world leader in design, modelling and testing of tidal turbine blades and blade components.” -Ends-

Friday, 18 December 2020

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 -Ends-

Thursday, 17 December 2020

Stromal Cell specialists at NUI Galway and Galway biotech, Orbsen Therapeutics have published new work which could lead to new ways of treating people with cancer. Principal Investigator Dr Laura Barkley, a researcher at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway explains: “Tumour stromal cells are recently discovered and are an important component of solid tumours. Tumour stromal cells prevent the patient’s immune system from recognising and killing cancer cells and they also limit the effectiveness of many current cancer drugs including immunotherapies. Our research indicates that developing drugs that specifically target tumour stromal cells may enable current drugs to work better in patients.” This Irish Research Council funded collaboration discovered a new marker of breast cancer tumour stromal cells called Syndecan-2. Dr Barkley and Dr Paul Loftus at Orbsen Therapeutics have developed novel peptide therapeutics to bind and target Syndecan-2 specifically. These new peptides were then tested in breast cancer models for safety and efficacy. Dr Barkley continued: “The peptides caused immune cells to infiltrate the breast cancer, leading to a reduction in growth and notably, reduced the metastasis of the breast cancer to other organs. These studies suggest that targeting cancer specific tumour stromal cells represent a new modality in the treatment of cancer. We are very excited about the potential benefits of using tumour stromal cells-targeting drugs to improve patient outcomes in combination with current breast cancer therapies and immunotherapies.” Professor Michael Kerin, Chair of Surgery at NUI Galway and Research Director of the National Breast Cancer Research Institute and co-author in the study, said: “This work highlights the important collaborative patient focused research that is carried out in the Lambe Institute for Translational Research. It will open avenues for treatment for patients with particular breast cancer subtypes especially triple negative and targeting the appropriate cohort will require further research.” Professor Timothy O'Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway, Director and Founder of Orbsen Therapeutics, and co-author in the study, highlighted: “This research program illustrates the benefits of the Irish Research Council Employment based post graduate initiative. The research applies discoveries in stem cell biology to cancer therapeutics and may lead to innovative approaches to the treatment of breast cancer.” Dr Stephen Elliman, Chief Scientific Officer at Orbsen Therapeutics, said: “This Irish Research Council enabled research between Dr Barkley and Dr Loftus was a model of industry-academic collaboration. We’re delighted with the outcome and look forward to continuing this productive collaboration and advancing these peptides towards early safety Phase clinical one trials.” This work was published in the International Journal of Cancer and can be accessed at –Ends–

Monday, 14 December 2020

NUI Galway will lead three research projects as part of a coordinated COVID-19 Rapid Response Research, Development and Innovation programme. Announced by Government Ministers today the new investment of €10.5 million will support 39 COVID-19 research and innovation projects. The three NUI Galway projects awarded almost €700,000 in total will investigate: How do the antibodies our bodies make affect the course of disease in COVID-19; Respecting People with disabilities’ Needs and rights in Crisis and Emergency; and Crisis coping for marginalised youth: living and learning through COVID-19. Dr Michelle Kilcoyne a researcher and lecturer in Glycosciences at NUI Galway, will lead a project that looks at one of the ways that our bodies can fight the COVID-19 virus, by making antibodies against it. These antibodies in the blood can either stop the virus directly, or recruit cells of the immune system to kill it. However, this recruitment of immune cells is not well studied in COVID-19, and it may contribute to more severe symptoms of disease. Science Foundation Ireland is funding the project to clarify the links between blood antibodies, virus-killing activity and symptoms in patients. At present, it is not known exactly how our immune system’s antibody response to the COVID-19 virus is linked to how mild or severe the symptoms are. The research project will examine blood samples from patients with COVID-19 and look at how the type and amount of antibodies link with recruitment of immune cells and the patient’s experience of the disease. By understanding more about how the body reacts to the COVID-19 virus, and how that links to disease, the findings will help inform how to vaccinate against and treat COVID-19. Dr Michelle Kilcoyne, School of Natural Sciences, NUI Galway, says: “Developing vaccines and antibody therapies depends on using a particular viral antigen to recruit the correct immune response, or effector function, in the patient. However, antibody effector functions for particular viral antigens are not well studied in COVID-19 patients, and different effector functions may be linked to disease severity and outcome. Combining a strong team of clinicians and research scientists, we are applying a multiplexed and high throughput approach to understand the link between the viral antigen, the individual patient effector function, and disease severity.” Professor Eilionóir Flynn, Established Professor, School of Law and Director of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy, NUI Galway, will lead a new project supported by the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council that will look at decisions made during the pandemic in several European countries and their impact on people with disabilities. The research will provide guidance for decision-making bodies to help them maintain their obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Strategic decisions made by countries and healthcare systems in the pandemic may not always support the rights of people with disabilities. Using a framework developed by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, this project will analyse laws, policies and guidelines that emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland, Spain, UK, Italy, Sweden and Germany. The project will provide guidance to governments, medical councils and healthcare professionals in order to maintain obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Professor Eilionóir Flynn, NUI Galway, says: “Emerging research findings, including from the International Disability Alliance and other disability groups, demonstrate that disabled people globally are disproportionately impacted by the current pandemic. Not only are disabled people at greater risk of contracting the virus and experiencing adverse effects (especially those living in institutional settings) but they are also disproportionately affected by restrictions in access to community services and supports. This research will help us to understand in more depth how countries can respond to the challenge in ways that protect the human rights of disabled people.” Professors Pat Dolan and Gerry Mac Ruairc will lead a project focusing on young people aged between 12 and 18 who are marginalised or are at high risk during the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, and there is evidence that the most marginalised are becoming increasingly disconnected from school. Funded by the Health Research Board and the Irish Research Council, the project will work with marginalised young people and their families to come up with ways of coping with and improving wellbeing. The results will be tailor-made approaches and supports for marginalised young people, as well as evidence to inform policymakers and provide tools for important stakeholders, such as teachers and parents. Young people who are marginalised are at risk of disengaging from school, and from society more generally, during the COVID-19 pandemic. The research will work with marginalised young people and their families to come up with new ways to support those at risk. By developing solutions with marginalised young people, the project can inform strategies that can help them engage with school and reduce the risk of disengagement. Professor Pat Dolan, Director of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway, said: “The pandemic has posed very particular threats to the education and wellbeing of marginalised youth in Ireland.” Professor Gerry MacRuairc, School of Education, NUI Galway, said: “This project is a unique opportunity not just to research the problem but, working directly with youth and their schools, to come up with real-world, practical solutions.” President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, commented: “I wish to extend my warm congratulations to Michelle, Eilionóir, Pat and Gerry on being included on the COVID-19 Research and Innovation projects announced by Government today. Research excellence is one of NUI Galway’s strategic values and is to the forefront of everything we do, and in particular when tackling the response to the COVID-19 crisis. Our main aim is to serve the public good and these diverse projects highlight how our values of respect, sustainability and excellence show we are working not only to address the health challenges created by this pandemic, but also our understanding of the social implications.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “Once again it is tremendous to see projects of this high calibre being led from NUI Galway in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This diverse range of disciplines highlights the innovative work being carried out by our research and innovation community in Galway. Ireland’s COVID-19 Rapid Response research and innovation funding initiative is a welcome support to these efforts, and I congratulate today’s awardees whose projects seek to address the challenges we face resulting from the pandemic in order to benefit healthcare and the wider society.” The projects included in the coordinated COVID-19 Rapid Response Research, Development and Innovation programme are supported by Science Foundation Ireland, in partnership with the Department for the Economy and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland, and the Irish Research Council and Health Research Board. Commenting on the awards Simon Harris, TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science said: “I’m delighted to announce this significant investment into furthering our understanding of COVID-19 and finding solutions to the challenges the pandemic has presented to our society and economy. As we move closer to commencing a vaccination programme, we need to understand that the virus has not gone away – supporting our expert researchers in our higher education institutions will help us to safely reopen our society. This latest research also includes nine all-island research projects, which is really exciting. COVID-19 does not know any borders. Working together across this island will help us in our fight.” Nine all-Ireland research projects were supported in areas such as surveillance in wastewater, disruption to food supply chains and a collaboration to investigate potential therapeutics. Commenting on the projects supported by the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland, the Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, said: “This virus knows no frontiers and it is vital that the world-class research strengths of Northern Ireland universities are fully harnessed to address the common challenges we are all now facing right across this island, north and south. Collaboration between researchers promotes innovative and impactful outcomes and this has been underlined by the way the global science community has come together to address the threats and opportunities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This SFI programme is very much part of this wider global effort and I welcome the opportunity it has provided for added-value collaboration across both our jurisdictions.” Welcoming the investment, Stephen Donnelly, TD, Minister for Health, said: “Research has been a key part of our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and we will continue to rely on research in the months ahead. This year, we have not just experienced a pandemic, we have also seen an infodemic. There has been an overload of often unreliable information. We have seen examples of this in relation to the use of vaccines and on unproven medicines. As we plan to introduce a COVID-19 vaccination programme, it is essential that we tackle things like misinformation. Many of these research projects will provide evidence to help us do that. I look forward to using the findings from this research for the benefit of Irish people, the health system and society.” -Ends-

Friday, 11 December 2020

Team behind Geec battery powered car develop fuel savings aerodynamics for HGVs The team behind the Galway Energy-Efficient Car at NUI Galway have been crowned European champions in a major student engineering competition. Usually the team would race at Shell Eco-marathon Europe, where the tests are ones of efficiency rather than speed but with slim prospects for track time this year the students took part in design competitions as part of the 2021 virtual programme. The team excelled by identifying aerodynamics as a major cause of energy loss in heavy trucks and proposed easily fitted modifications for conventional HGVs and lorries, reducing energy waste and CO2 emissions by about one fifth. Professor Peter McHugh, Head of School of Engineering at NUI Galway, said: “This is a truly amazing achievement for NUI Galway Engineering students, supported by our enthusiastic and hardworking staff. “This success is further confirmation of the world leading nature of our Engineering education at the University and the world-class calibre of our students. “It is wonderful to see the enthusiasm and commitment of our students still very much to the fore even in these challenging times.” The Geec road freight team were declared outright winners of the European region for their research and innovation on improving aerodynamics of heavy trucks in the category of Decarbonising Road Freight Transport. Norman Koch, Global General Manager of Shell Eco-marathon, singled out the Geec for a special commendation. Mr Koch said: "The team did a phenomenal job across all these categories they entered, and the scores were extremely tight. So well done to the team. A lot of hard work there and some amazing results." Éanna Wood, a second-year Mechanical Engineering student and member of the road freight team, said: “We found the biggest aerodynamic inefficiencies associated with modern HGVs and designed parts to reduce these. Overall, these aerodynamic improvements could reduce fuel consumption by over 20% at motorway speeds.”  Eoghan Moylan, fourth year in Mechanical Engineering, explained the modifications: “The aim was to reduce aerodynamic drag across the whole vehicle. The first part is the front wind deflector, which also benefits safety by preventing access to the blind spot under the windscreen and also provides for energy absorption in the event of a collision. “The second part is the use of shroud between the truck cab and trailer, preventing turbulent airflow forming in this gap. The third part is a combination of dimpled wheel covers and vortex generators to minimise the extent of turbulent airflow at the rotating wheels and the end of the trailer.” Adam Fahey, Geec team member and 4th year Electronic and Computer Engineering student, said: “The team are hugely grateful to everybody who voted across Galway and Ireland and the amazing support we have received on social media. “We are limited in what we can do with the Geec itself this year but that has allowed us to devote our time and energy to other areas and apply our expertise in new and innovative ways. “Our achievements so far speak volumes about the talent being supported and empowered here in NUI Galway.”  sGeec facts - :: The car is designed, built, driven and raced by NUI Galway students from Mechanical, Electrical and Electronic, Electronic and Computer, and Energy Systems engineering, from first to fourth year. :: The three-wheeled single-seat battery-electric Geec has been designed, developed and raced since 2013 and ranked in the top 15 energy-efficient cars in Europe. :: The car achieved the equivalent of more than 10,000 miles per gallon on a London street circuit. :: The Geec won the prestigious Technical Innovation Award at Shell Eco-marathon Europe in 2018. Ends

Thursday, 3 December 2020

A project that connects patients with their loved ones, against a backdrop of COVID-19 restrictions on visits to hospitals, has seen NUI Galway win a National Impact Award.   The university worked with industry partners Cisco and IBM to deliver a state-of-the-art video call system, ICU FamilyLink, specifically for the intensive care unit setting at University Hospital Galway (UHG). The project won the Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Award, in the ‘COVID-19 Response’ Category on 26 November.  ICU FamilyLink When hospital visiting restrictions were introduced in early March, the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) team at University Hospital Galway (UHG) appreciated that it was going to be very difficult to keep families and patients in the ICU updated and connected, particularly where family members may be in physical isolation in different locations. In an effort to address these challenges, they reached out to their academic partners in NUI Galway, who in turn reached out to industry contacts in Galway and beyond.  NUI Galway, Cisco and IBM assembled a team to answer the call and working closely with the ICU and Clinical Engineering and IT teams in UHG, rapidly developed a state-of-the-art video call system tailored specifically for the ICU setting. The system runs on the hospital’s Cisco Enterprise Wireless Network using Cisco Webex Meetings software and Cisco Webex Devices donated from Cisco’s software development office in Oranmore.   The secure system is designed for easy setup where close family members are invited by the nurse looking after the patient, to see and speak to their loved one. ICU FamilyLink also enables staff to advise the family and discuss medical and treatment issues that arise.  The Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Impact Awards recognise and showcase the success in knowledge transfer carried out in Irish Higher Education Institutions and publicly funded research organisations for the wider benefit of the economy and society at large. As part of the initiative, the collaborating bodies made information regarding all components of the bespoke video conferencing system freely available at Speaking about the news, David Murphy, Director of Technology Transfer and Innovation at NUI Galway, said: “This achievement is a positive reflection of the talent within the university, industry and hospital. It is also a reflection of the commitment to community in a time when it was so important to those affected by the pandemic. As a place well-known for collaboration and creativity, and as a global medtech hub, our research and innovation community has been to the fore in looking at innovations and insights that can support the response to the COVID-19 crisis.   KTI director and chair of the judging panel, Dr Alison Campbell, added: “The finalists and winners of these awards are real examples of the compelling work being undertaken in the third level to support innovation and to help Irish companies thrive in challenging markets, delivering benefit to the economy and for people.” This initiative was delivered by Irial Conroy (IBM) and Dr Aoife Murray (NUI Galway), both BioInnovate alumni, Brian O’Donoghue (Cisco), Breda McColgan (IBM), PJ McKenna (IBM), Frank Kirrane (UHG), Leonie Cullen (UHG) and Dr Bairbre McNicholas (UHG). The team was supported by the UHG IT department and wider Saolta, Cisco, IBM, UHG and NUI Galway staff, and other organisations that kindly provided supports. Special thanks to Niamh Connolly (NUI Galway), Ian Gallivan (NUI Galway) and the TTO office for the facilitation of making all of the project’s contributions available in the public domain. Watch a short video about ICU FamilyLink here: To read more about other initiatives with which the NUI Galway research and innovation community have responded to COVID-19, visit: . -Ends-  

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

A new collaboration between researchers at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre based at NUI Galway and Industry partner Aerogen, a world leader in high-performance aerosol drug delivery, has recently gotten underway. The project, costing over €400,000, is focused on optimising the Aerogen Solo nebulizer for the delivery of Heparin into the lung of patients with COVID-19 induced Acute Respiratory Failure (ARDS). Heparin is a compound that occurs in the body, which prevents blood clotting. The project will run until September 2021 and clinical patient trials are due to commence in December 2020. Led by Professor John Laffey at CÚRAM, NUI Galway and Dr Ronan MacLoughlin at Aerogen, the project will determine the safety, efficacy and mechanisms of action of nebulized heparin in COVID-19 induced Acute Respiratory Failure. The Aerogen Solo converts the liquid drug into a nebulised mist of consistently sized droplets that enable medication to get deep into the patients’ lung. Recommended by multiple international COVID-19 guidance documents, Aerogen is the only globally available closed circuit aerosol drug delivery system that mitigates the transmission of patient generated infectious aerosol and delivers effective aerosol treatment. Professor John Laffey, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at NUI Galway, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine, Galway University Hospitals and CÚRAM Investigator, said: “Disordered clotting in the lungs is a feature of COVID-19 induced ARDS. Heparin has specific potential benefits in COVID infection. It inactivates the SARSCoV-2 virus and prevents its entry into mammalian cells and appears likely to have a beneficial effect in these patients too, provided it can be safely and effectively delivered to the lungs.” Standard treatment to reduce the risk of the formation of blood clots in the lungs can have substantial associated risks and side effects, such as major haemorrhage and intracerebral haemorrhage. Nebulising heparin directly into the lung may improve the clotting disorder seen in COVID-19 induced severe respiratory failure, while potentially reducing the risk of serious side effects seen when heparin is given by traditional routes. Effective heparin delivery is critically dependent on the efficiency of the nebulizer, and the deposition patterns produced by that device suggests it can deliver effective quantities of heparin directly to the areas of the lung where the disordered clotting is seen. A recent study completed with 256 mechanically ventilated patients with or at risk of developing ARDS showed that nebulized heparin delivered by the Aerogen Solo device,reduced the development of ARDS and increased the number of surviving patients discharged home at day 60. Dr Ronan MacLoughlin, Senior Science Manager at Aerogen, said: “Not all nebuliser technologies are created equal, and here we are looking forward to bringing the inherent safety and performance advantages of Aerogen’s devices to bear in this important program. With the current focus on new and repurposed therapies for ARDS and COVID ARDS, it has never been more important to ensure that these therapies are screened effectively whilst ensuring that they are challenged robustly.” Dr McLoughlin added: “In this project, we are looking at repurposing an existing drug with proven potential, but ensuring that enough is delivered to the patient, all whilst keeping the clinical team safe. Aerogen’s closed circuit nebulisers do not require circuit breaks during mechanical ventilation, and have been shown to deliver the highest levels of therapies to the ventilated patient’s lung and our aim is to ensure that this combination of drug and device provide maximum benefit, under the most critical conditions. “Building on long standing collaborations with both the team in CURAM, and Professor Laffey, we look forward to advancing the state of the art in what have become some of the highest burden respiratory diseases, and provide a roadmap for future programs looking to optimise and exploit the advantages of aerosol-mediated drug delivery to the lung, with a focus on the critical care setting.” This is the third collaboration between CÚRAM and Aerogen. Earlier collaborations focusing on understanding the fluid mechanics of droplets and exploring enhancing the delivery of existing small molecule therapeutics worth over €1 million have resulted in  a significant number of co-publications with Aerogen that have being highly cited. CÚRAM researchers on these collaborations have gained relevant industry training, improved scientific and technical skills and have gone on to secure roles in industry. For more information about the research project contact Claire Riordan, Public Engagement Manager, CÚRAM at or Ciara Power, Global Customer Marketing Manager, Aerogen at -Ends-

Monday, 16 November 2020

Hand-held, battery-operated device will carry out rapid detection of the virus using a laser in approximately 15 minutes Device will also test for antibodies to the virus in human samples Device could carry out rapid on-site tests in airports, workplaces and schools Test can be administered by anyone, without medical or scientific training Researchers from NUI Galway and the University of Wyoming have received a grant of €199,720 from the Health Research Board to develop a handheld device for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The device, which they aim to have available early next year, will also test for antibodies to the virus in human samples. The test device is already being sold and the research team are currently developing a COVID test to work with it in order to produce and distribute large quantities within a short period of time. The rapid test will be capable of being administered by anyone, such as airport officials or school principals. Professor Gerard Wall, of Microbiology, College of Science and Engineering and SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices (CÚRAM) at NUI Galway, is leading the research along with Professors Patrick Johnson and Karen Wawrousek from the University of Wyoming’s Department of Chemical Engineering. Professor Wall will employ a laboratory-based technique that mimics the human immune response “in vitro”, or in a test tube, to produce antibody fragments for use in the detection of the virus. The antibody fragments will enable high sensitivity and reproducibility of the device, and can be produced in large quantities in bacterial cells. Professors Johnson and Wawrousek will attach the antibody fragments to nanoparticles for incorporation into a hand-held, battery-operated device that will carry out rapid detection of the virus using a laser, in approximately 15 minutes. Professor Gerard Wall, NUI Galway, said: “Rapid detection of the virus on-site will allow potentially infectious people to be identified so that decisions on isolation and treatment can be made immediately. There are clear applications for this type of device in airports, workplaces or schools, among other locations.” Professor Patrick Johnson, University of Wyoming, said: “Our test will have higher sensitivity than other rapid tests and will not require any sample preparation. The idea is to have an accurate, portable, on-site test with results within 15-20 minutes. This will allow rapid answers while the person is still present, enabling immediate intervention and treatment.” Samples can be collected from saliva, nasal swab or blood. The samples will then be placed in glass vials and inserted into hand-held instruments, called Raman spectrometers, for analysis. The project team plans to use Raman spectrometers developed by entrepreneur Keith Carron, CEO of Metrohm Raman in Laramie, Wyoming and will work with Noah Hull, Microbiology Laboratories manager at the Wyoming Public Health Laboratory to validate the assay against known positive and negative samples. -Ends-

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

First in world chemical free PPE product that will pave the way for safer methods of decontamination that do not cause harm to humans or the environment Aquila Bioscience, a medical technology company from NUI Galway, has successfully proven that its breakthrough Pathogen Capturing Technology safely removes 99.99% of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19) from human skin. This is the first time a nature inspired, safe and non-toxic technology that is free from all harmful chemicals, has been proven to remove COVID-19 from human skin with such efficiency. The environmentally friendly Class I device safely captures, removes and neutralizes harmful pathogens and viral infections like coronavirus from the skin and surfaces. The breakthrough is significant and occurs at a time when protecting society and controlling the spread of COVID-19 in the community is paramount. The results show that this novel technology is equally if not more effective as the highest performing chemical-based methods currently on the market but without any of the environmental or health problems. The proprietary Pathogen Capturing Technology is currently saturated onto a large wipe, sterilized and individually packaged. This Anti Bioagent Decontamination (ABD) Device is free from alcohol and toxic chemicals and can be safely and frequently used on sensitive areas of the human body including the eyes, nose and mouth without causing any adverse side effects as well as on sensitive equipment such as computer screens and non-corrosive surfaces. Unlike other products on the market, ABD Devices are environmentally safe as they are made from natural materials. Originally developed to protect first-responders and defence forces personnel from a potential biological attack from agents such as anthrax, plague and ricin, Aquila Bioscience has redirected the technology to make available to the government and corporate organisations as a decontamination solution in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. The ABD Device is currently approved by the Department of Education for use as emergency Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across 4,000 primary and post primary education institutions in Ireland and used by the Irish Defence Forces. Lokesh Joshi, Founder of Aquila Bioscience and Professor in Glycoscience at NUI Galway, said: “The Aquila Bioscience’s innovative and ground breaking technology is a major game changer in the future of pathogen and infection control, and will pave the way for safer methods of decontamination that do not cause harm to humans or the natural world.” The study was carried out by an independent laboratory, NeoVirtech in Toulouse, France with expertise in Virology using donor human skin from cosmetic surgeries. When applied to the skin surface, the laboratory found that the ABD device removes pathogens from affected surfaces by binding to the pathogens with microscopic molecular hooks. Professor Joshi continued: “Currently we are very much focused on supplying this technology to the Irish markets. We are also interested in working with other international partners on how best to bring this technology to other global markets.” Garrett Murray, National Director for Horizon 2020 at Enterprise Ireland, said: “This is a great development and Aquila Bioscience is an excellent example of an Irish spinout that is engaging with the national and European research systems to support their scaling strategy. The Enterprise Ireland Horizon 2020 team is looking to engage with companies with similar ambition to support engagement with the European research and innovation system.” Lieutenant Colonel, Ray Lane (Retired), said: “In 2014 in my role of Commanding Officer of the Defence Forces Ordnance School, we worked closely with Professor Lokesh Joshi and his staff in future proofing our mutual capabilities. With the active support of the European Defence Agency, we looked at the threat from biological agents and designed scenarios for Professor Joshi. To see the innovative/novel development of the ABD today is a source of great pride and humility. As we began our work together in 2014, we agreed on our mission statement ‘Cooperation and Coordination saves lives’. This capability will indeed save many lives.” The technology was developed in collaboration with the Defence Forces in Ireland and the Czech University of Defence, and is supported by the European Defence Agency, the European Union Horizon 2020, and the European Innovation Council. For more information about Aquila Bioscience visit: -Ends-

Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Venari Medical, an innovative medical device company based in Galway recently raised $5.3 million (€4.5 million) in seed equity funding to accelerate the development of its ground-breaking BioVena™ device for the treatment of chronic venous disease. Venari Medical is a spinout from the BioInnovate Ireland fellowship programme for medical device innovation at NUI Galway, which is sponsored by Enterprise Ireland. The investment round was led by Nipro Corporation, a world-leading medical product manufacturer based in Osaka, Japan. The Western Development Commission and Enterprise Ireland also contributed to the investment, in addition to international medical device experts and vascular surgeons. Chronic venous disease (CVD) affects up to 30% of adults across the globe resulting in a significant deterioration in quality of life for sufferers, especially those with advanced skin breakdown known as venous leg ulcers. The market opportunity of CVD treatment is over $2 billion annually in the US & EU. Recent high-quality clinical evidence, supporting the benefits of acute intervention to improve overall healing of venous leg ulcers, has the potential to add over $1.5 billion to this opportunity. CVD management places a huge burden on healthcare systems amounting to $33 billion (€28 billion) per year in the US and EU alone, representing 2.5% of total healthcare expenditure. Venari CEO and co-founder Stephen Cox commented “This seed investment accelerates a huge opportunity to improve the quality of life of sufferers of chronic venous disease (CVD) across the globe. This funding enables the clinical validation of our BioVena™ medical device, which we are confident will offer patients a less invasive and highly effective office-based treatment that is also an intuitive procedure for physicians treating CVD. We believe that widespread adoption of the BioVena ™ device has significant cost saving potential for healthcare systems.” Commenting on their investment, Toshiaki Masuda, Managing Director at Nipro Corporation said “We are very excited to invest in Venari Medical. Their focus on Chronic Venous Disease is an area of great patient need due to its high prevalence internationally and significant impact on quality of life. This less invasive solution under development will offer physicians an entirely new treatment option for all CVD patients. The Venari Medical team have impressed us greatly with this cutting-edge approach to venous disease treatment, from their novel pre-clinical research in vein biology, to collaborations with internationally recognised experts in venous disease treatment.” Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO, Western Development Commission commented “This technology will improve the lives of a huge number of people, and that has been the primary focus of Stephen Cox and the team at Venari since the outset. Equally, however, this investment, underlines the importance of supporting innovation driven enterprises, building on the success of the existing medtech ecosystem in Ireland’s western region” Manager of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Ups Division, Jennifer Melia said; “This significant investment is as a result of Venari co-founders Stephen, Sean and Nigel’s commitment to strengthening treatment practices in healthcare and will allow them to transition to the next stage in business for Venari. As BioInnovate Ireland fellows, the Venari team are an example of how this collaborative programme funded by Enterprise Ireland is connecting experts and producing the next generation of healthcare entrepreneurs focused on improving lives. Their break-through, innovative BioVena™ device has not just the potential to transform lives the world over but to also reduce cost for healthcare systems treating chronic venous disease. Venari has been on Enterprise Ireland’s radar since it was first established and was one of 10 ambitious start-ups chosen to exhibit at Enterprise Ireland Big Ideas showcase last year having previously availed of the Commercialisation Fund. We are so pleased to support its development as the business set their sights on new global markets and we are excited to see what is next.” Established in 2018, Venari Medical has since developed a strong intellectual property position by perfecting a purely mechanical endovascular approach for the treatment of venous disease. Utilising the body’s natural healing mechanism, the Venari BioVena™ novel catheter system achieves effective mechanical vein disruption at a cellular level to cure symptoms. This allows for a less invasive and more effective treatment for all CVD patients, but critically patients suffering from venous leg ulcers will benefit most. Venari expects to create 20 new jobs in both senior management and technical, quality and regulatory roles over the next 3 years as a result of this investment. Venari Medical was founded by Stephen Cox MBA (CEO), Sean Cummins (CTO) and Dr. Nigel Phelan (Chief Medical Officer). Venari Medical’s mission focus is on innovation of unparalleled safe, effective, patient-centred medical devices that improve quality of life for those with debilitating vascular disease. See more at -Ends-

Monday, 19 October 2020

UCD calls on Galway company who specialize in advanced digital assessment solutions used in medical exams to facilitate online clinical exams after Dublin moves to Level 3 restrictions Qpercom, a Galway-based IT company and NUI Galway spin out has provided a software solution to facilitate the first of a series of final year clinical skills exams using remote video technology, for UCD School of Medicine and Medical Sciences. Qpercom Observe is an advanced digital assessment solution used in medicine, nursing, veterinary, dentistry and health sciences by universities across the globe. With video integration added to help universities maintain their exam schedules during the Covid-19 pandemic, the technology is now seen as crucial and is available to a wider educational community. St. Vincent’s University Hospital and Mater Misericordiae University Hospital are the two main centres where UCD Medical students carry out their Psychiatry clinical placements but the introduction of Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions in Dublin meant that clinical exams could not go ahead at these venues as normal this semester. Every year, approximately 200 students attend St Vincent’s or the Mater to participate in a staged Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE), an examination used by education institutions to test clinical skills. When it became clear that Dublin was to be placed under Level 3 restrictions, Professor Allys Guérandel of St Vincent’s Department of Psychiatry embraced the option of facilitating the exams using video technology and called on Dr Thomas Kropmans, Qpercom’s CEO and a senior lecturer at NUI Galway’s School of Medicine, to facilitate. Dr Thomas Kropmans, CEO, Qpercom, said: “Zoom, MS Teams and Google Meet have changed the world of communications, however this particular exam requires a flow of students going through a series of consecutive stations (video rooms) with simulated patients or actors while examiners complete their assessment form while observing the same video room. This functionality is missing in these established platforms but Qpercom’s platform can manage the process with ease.” Professor Allys Guérandel, St Vincent’s Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, said: “These exams are crucial for our medical students and we are obliged to ensure that students are competent and well equipped to practice medicine. Adding video to Qpercom Observe is unique in its kind and allows us to assess students remotely, no matter where they practice medicine.” On designing the online clinical exams, Enda Griffin, Technical Sales Executive at Qpercom, said: “It was not easy. Technically and logistically it was a major challenge but thankfully we managed the examination and 90% of students were examined remotely without being in close contact with actors or examiners. This opens doors for other oral examinations and communication skills examinations in many other industries.” David Cunningham, Qpercom co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, saying: “Moving students from one video station to the next, while all parties participate remotely, be they actor/patients or examiner/interviewer and the retrieval of assessment data, all represent major logistical and technical challenges but they are challenges which we believe we have solved using Qpercom Observe.” Kelvin Nunn, Project Manager at Qpercom, said: “We’re not fully there yet but we are very grateful to Professor Guérandel and her team for their trust today as the first research department in Europe supporting this proof of concept.” For more information about Qpercom visit: -Ends-

Monday, 5 October 2020

NUI Galway, OmniSpirant Limited and Aerogen Limited have been awarded major funding to develop a new aerosol treatment with potential benefits across acute and chronic lung diseases, including COVID-19 An Irish consortium involving NUI Galway, OmniSpirant Limited, a start-up biotechnology company and Aerogen Limited, have been awarded €11.6 million under the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF). The funding will be used to develop a new exosome based inhaled treatment for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) which is responsible for the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths. Research from the JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that more than 40% of individuals in the study hospitalised for severe and critical COVID-19 developed ARDS, and over 50% of those diagnosed died from the disease. This cutting edge treatment also has the potential to treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD is a disease that affects hundreds of millions of patients worldwide, it is the third leading cause of death globally and is currently lacking any effective treatments. The Global Burden of Disease Study reports a prevalence of 251 million cases of COPD globally in 2016. Globally, it is estimated that 3.17 million deaths were caused by the disease in 2015, 5% of all deaths globally in that year. The three-year grant funded programme aims to complete Phase 1 clinical trial studies in ARDS patients and to complete the preclinical development needed to support clinical studies in COPD patients. Professor John Laffey, Professor of Intensive Care Medicine at NUI Galway and Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine, Galway University Hospitals, said: “Current pharmacologic therapies are of marginal benefit for COVID-19 patients suffering with ARDS, and advanced support of respiratory function in Intensive Care Units remains the main therapeutic approach. Aerosolized delivery of engineered cell products that can target the inflammatory response to COVID-19 could prevent or even reverse severe COVID-19 induced respiratory injury, which would be game-changing in reducing mortality from this devastating infection. It also shows very promising anti-infection benefits, which in addition to having knock-on benefits for COPD patients, could also be applied to other aggressive lung conditions such as Cystic Fibrosis patients.” OmniSpirant will provide the technological expertise to produce exosomes from genetically modified stem cells. OmniSpirant have also developed a method to enhance the delivery of these exosomes into lung tissues. These exosomes will then be delivered by an inhaled aerosol to recode diseased lung cells in patients, using Aerogen’s expertise and best in class technology in this area. The Centre for Cell Manufacturing at NUI Galway will industrialise the scalable manufacturing process for this new treatment. Gerry McCauley MPharm, MPSI, CEO OmniSpirant Limited, said: “We have entered the age of advanced therapeutics, where cell based and gene therapies have curative potential for complex diseases. Our proprietary technologies unlock huge potential to effectively deliver novel treatments into the lung to address many serious lung diseases. Specifically, the DTIF funding is aimed at developing OS002, an innovative treatment which could address two major global pandemics. The death rate for ARDS shows that it has a mortality rate of 30-40% of those diagnosed with the disease. This currently lacks effective treatments and due to COVID-19 is causing a devastating global death toll. Even in a world without COVID-19 ARDS affects an estimated three million people every year. Secondly, OS002 could also prove transformational for chronic lung diseases, particularly the 100’s of millions of COPD patients globally who are currently suffering with no access to effective treatment options.” Aerogen Ireland was founded in 1997 and are world leaders in the field of aerosol delivery devices. Drug delivery of cell therapies by aerosol of this nature has traditionally been complex and Aerogen are partnering on this new and novel treatment to provide the expertise and the technology which will be used to develop devices to deliver the exosome treatments by aerosol. Dr Ronan MacLoughlin, Head of Respiratory Science at Aerogen Limited, said: “Aerogen are delighted to be involved in this potentially transformative project that leans on a unique combination of disruptive technologies. Over 12 million patients have benefited from Aerogen technology to date and we look forward to bringing to bear Aerogen’s unique expertise in this field and working with OmniSpirant and the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland at NUI Galway over the coming years in bringing this technology to patients worldwide.” The Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland (CCMI) at NUI Galway is the first and only approved cell manufacturing facility in Ireland. This purpose built fully-licensed centre is designed to manufacture Advanced Therapeutic Medicinal Products, such as stem cells, for use in human clinical trials. Dr Janusz Krawczyk, Clinical Director of the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland (CCMI), NUI Galway, said: “In collaborating with OmniSpirant and Aerogen, the CCMI will apply our unique expertise to develop the manufacturing process of exosome-based therapy. The Centre is ideally placed, with experience and expertise in bringing treatments such as this from bench to pre-clinical stage to early clinical trials. I am delighted to see the CCMI involved in a second DTIF project which ensures that this unique resource in Ireland fulfils its translational potential in stem cell therapy and regenerative medicine. The programme is also aligned with NUI Galway’s ambition to partner with national and multinational industry to ensure that research discoveries have a beneficial impact on patient care. This partnership will confirm the University’s leadership in world-class research and positions Ireland as a strategic global leader in the development of new regenerative medicine technology.” Dr Imelda Lambkin, Enterprise Ireland, said: “The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund administered by Enterprise Ireland is a big opportunity for both large companies and SMEs to collaborate with research bodies to produce technologies that have the potential to really change a market or sector. Indeed, the funding awarded to OmniSpirant Limited, Aerogen Limited and NUI Galway to develop a new treatment for Covid-19 will potentially save lives. The third call for the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund will open later this month and we strongly encourage companies and researchers with a disruptive idea or technology to apply.” The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund is a €500 million Project Ireland 2040 fund confirmed under the National Development Plan in 2018.  -Ends-

Wednesday, 30 September 2020

NUI Galway Ryan Institute researchers are developing Covid-19 testing of saliva samples using next-generation synthetic biology tools  Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) is funding a COVID-19 Rapid Response project led by the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, to combine a next-generation Covid-19 genetic testing approach with saliva sampling, using a “synthetic biology” toolbox called CRISPR-Cas. In collaboration with international partners from the USA and UK, the Genetics and Biotechnology lab of Professor Charles Spillane in the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway is developing a rapid CRISPR-Cas based system for detection of the virus in saliva samples. By using pooled samples, they are working on the development of Covid-19 surveillance systems for viral testing of groups of people (households, classes, companies and institution) to ultimately enable routine weekly testing. The current testing system for the presence of the Covid-19 is carried out by taking swabs from people’s noses and the back of their throats, which is cumbersome, costly and time-consuming. Current testing systems for the presence of Covid-19 are largely based on RT-PCR assays on the swab samples, using DNA technologies that were first developed in the 1990s. In the absence of a vaccine, there is an unmet need to massively scale up both sampling and testing throughput so that routine weekly surveillance testing of groups can enable people to know when members of their group may be infected or not.  The Covid-19 Rapid Response project will use a highly-precise genetic “homing system” called CRISPR-Cas to develop protocols for testing saliva samples for the presence or absence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. They will develop workflows for rapidly testing individual saliva samples as well as pooled samples from groups of people, to enable routine mass weekly testing in households, schools, companies and other group settings. By developing a rapid, targeted diagnostics and screening workflow using saliva samples, the research hopes to enable Covid-19 exit strategies from lockdown in Ireland and globally based on large-scale, weekly mass testing. Professor Charles Spillane, Director of The Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said; “On St. Patricks day I sent a Briefing Note to a range of political leaders and government bodies in Ireland recommending that we should seriously consider a mass-testing strategy for phased exit from Covid-19 lockdown measures that could allow our economy and society to function. While progress has since been made on behavioural change ‘suppression’ measures to limit the growth of the pandemic in many countries, there remains significant potential for developing and deploying cheaper and more rapid viral sampling and test systems that could be scaled up for testing large groups of people on a routine weekly basis for the presence or absence of the virus. “As we progress, I am interested in partnering our research with any groups (companies, schools, institutions, healthcare workers and communities) who may be interested in working with us to scale-up routine weekly testing systems so that groups can better operate for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is important that Science Foundation Ireland is supporting a swathe of rapid response Covid-19 research and innovation activities that have potential to improve the resilience of our public health, society and economy, during and beyond the pandemic.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

JediGlove uses bat sonar to alert users to objects and obstacles to help them move around safely Researchers at NUI Galway’s Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE) Lab, led by Professor Derek O’Keeffe, have adopted the sophisticated sonar of bats to develop new technology to help people with visual impairment. Using echolocation, the prototype JediGlove sends sequential micro-vibrations through the users’ fingers and thumb proportional to an object's distance, helping them sense obstacles in their path. Derek O’Keeffe, Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician at University Hospital Galway, said: “We have nicknamed the device the JediGlove because it lets someone who is visually impaired ‘feel the force’ of objects in their environment. “It is hugely innovative technology with significant potential. "Not only can it help people with visual impairment but it could also have applications for first responders in emergency situations, like firemen and rescue teams entering buildings and environments that may have low visibility.” The JediGlove uses ultrasound sensors, like a bat, to echo-locate obstacles. Then, using a bespoke algorithm, the technology sequentially activates micro-vibration motors in each finger of the glove to give the user immediate haptic feedback about objects, obstructions or obstacles which they are approaching. Professor O’Keeffe said: “This technology is a great example of patient centred care and interdisciplinary innovation. “Traditionally with research we talk about a bench to bedside pathway. An idea is developed in a lab and then it goes to the patient for evaluation. What we are trying to do at NUI Galway is to change the paradigm and innovate from bedside to bench to bedside. So, we start first with the patient and identify the problems that matter to them and then we go to the lab to push the technological envelope to develop solutions to improve their care." “During a clinic visit, one of my patients who has visual impairment mentioned that one of the most common navigation aids, a white cane, hadn’t changed much for over 100 years. It can also be both physically and socially burdensome to use. “The prototype JediGlove came about after thinking through potential technological solutions that are more ergonomic for people with visual impairment.” Professor O’Keeffe worked with Mouzzam Hussain, who is studying a Masters in Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway, to develop the concept. Mr Hussain said: “The JediGlove has been an exciting project to be involved with – putting patients’ needs first in a way that allows me to use my hardware and software skills to help them in their daily routines. It is very gratifying to work on something that will directly benefit someone in such a unique and tangible way.” Sinead Hanrahan, a patient with visual impairment, was one of the first to test the technology. Ms Hanrahan said: “The JediGlove works really well and is a new way finding out what objects are around me - The potential is undoubtedly huge. “There are so many technological solutions for other parts of my life but for mobility there’s only two options to help me be more independent – the cane and a guide dog. “I don’t have a guide dog yet and I don’t particularly like the cane so it is nice to think I could have other options to help with my mobility. "Technology like this is a game changer - it would reduce the need for me to rely on other people. Down the line, when it is more refined, I think it will make a huge difference for people with visual impairment.” The JediGlove technology has been developed in the spirit of Open Source Innovation and all documentation and files are shared in a publically accessible repository: -Ends

Monday, 24 August 2020

NUI Galway spin-out company Aquila Bioscience have been successful in their bid to become an approved supplier of PPE to the Education sector allowing up to 4,0000 educational institutions to avail of their decontamination product. Their pioneering decontamination technology Anti Bioagent Decontamination (ABD), which was developed in collaboration with the Czech University of Defense and Defense Forces Ireland to deal with biological contamination, is essential PPE that protects against harmful bacteria and viruses such as coronavirus.   ABD’s are class I sterile medical devices and are used in emergency situations. It is the only product available in the market that can be used on sensitive skin surfaces like the eyes, nose and mouth, and it can also be used on surfaces not suitable for biocide decontamination. ABDs are ideally suited for keeping staff and students safe, particularly those with underlying health conditions or special needs. Including ABD Devices into every first aid kit, Isolation room, classrooms, office, and community areas ensures all staff and students will benefit from the technology and it will help save lives while supporting the education sector in keeping institutions open. Unlike standard wipes and sanitisers, ABDs are free from alcohol, biocides and other toxic chemicals and so do not cause skin irritation or destroy skin cells. The wipe is made of biodegradable material and is environmentally friendly. ABDs are contained within individual pouches and so are easily distributed throughout schools. Cormac Lynch, CEO of Aquila Bioscience, said: "Being approved by the Department of Education to supply our ABD Devices is welcomed, and is a significant decision that will enhance the safety and protection of all staff and pupils in Ireland as our schools reopen." For more information visit -Ends-

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

The ENLIGHT consortium of nine European universities, including NUI Galway, has been selected in the framework of the second call for "European Universities", the European Commission's pilot program for new multilateral networks. ENLIGHT, the European university Network to promote equitable quality of Life, sustainability and Global engagement through Higher education Transformation and will receive start-up funding of €5 million. ENLIGHT unites nine universities of Galway, Ireland; the Basque Country, Spain; Bordeaux, France; Bratislava, Slovakia; Göttingen, Germany; Groningen, The Netherlands; Tartu, Estonia; Uppsala, Sweden; and Ghent, Belgium. The nine ENLIGHT universities have set a common goal to fundamentally transform higher education and to empower existing and prospective students with the right knowledge and skills to become engaged professionals and respond to the major, complex societal challenges of the 21st century. The ENLIGHT network embodies the geographical, cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe, and aims to make full use of this wealth and diversity to offer new, flexible international study opportunities tailored to individual’s needs. Speaking today, NUI Galway President Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “NUI Galway is delighted to further its work with the ENLIGHT consortium.  All nine universities are based outside of capital cities and therefore have a particular perspective on the world. Together, we are regional drivers of development, working closely with our cities to tackle societal challenges and see international ambition as a means of maximising regional impact.  At NUI Galway, we serve our region best – and respect it – by being open to highest standards of excellence and co-operation.  We will benefit from this funding as the consortium will learn collectively to address shared challenges consistent with our values as a university community.” The ENLIGHT universities aim to create new learning formats in which students focus on real social needs together with researchers, citizens and companies. In addition, students will not only given the opportunity to sharpen their knowledge with advanced research, but will also be stimulated to look beyond the boundaries of their own discipline, to think innovatively, work together, deal with diversity and to broaden their horizons within and outside Europe. Vice President International at NUI Galway, Professor Becky Whay commented: “The current pandemic has highlighted the need for international co-operation to tackle global problems, and with our ENLIGHT partners, we are committed to tackling barriers to education that may emerge.  We hope that receiving this funding at this time will prove a watershed moment for us to work towards more inclusive internationalisation through online co-operation to tackle shared challenges.”  Over the next three years, ENLIGHT will pilot new learning formats across five focus themes: Climate Change, Health and Well-Being, Inequalities, Digital revolution, Energy and Circularity. In the long term ENLIGHT wants to create an open space between the nine universities without barriers for learning, teaching and working together. The ENLIGHT project was realised in close co-operation with the student representatives of all ENLIGHT universities, with the student network continuing to play a central role in addressing the needs of current and future student generations. More information on ENLIGHT is available at -Ends-

Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Three NUI Galway start-ups, Feeltech, Nua Surgical, BlueDrop Medical, are among the 2020 winners of Health Innovation Hub Ireland’s (HIHI) call for innovative ideas from companies, start-ups and SMEs. The nationwide health innovation competition is directed at companies who have an innovative product, solution or service that are at pre-commercial or late development phase with the potential to significantly impact Irish healthcare. FeelTect’s technology, Tight Alright, is a wireless, pressure sensing device for measuring and monitoring sub-bandage pressure during compression therapy, primarily for the millions of people worldwide with venous leg ulcers (VLUs). Venous leg ulcers are chronic wounds that stem from venous insufficiency, which affects the circulation of blood to the lower limbs. The tiny valves that normally force blood back up towards the heart no longer function, causing blood to pool up in the legs, and the veins of the legs become distended, resulting in an accumulation of fluid in the lower limbs. NUA Surgical are developing Stericision, a novel medical device in obstetrics to make caesarean delivery a safer and  superior surgery. The project has received significant support and funding from Enterprise Ireland through the Commercialisation Fund which will assist the team in taking the unmet need from idea through to concept and design development, in preparation for establishing a new MedTech start-up company. Bluedrop Medical is focused on developing and commercialising an internet of things enabled device which can predict the formation of diabetic foot ulcers. Bluedrop Medical’s device can enable diabetic foot ulcers to be detected early; when treatment is easier and outcomes and costs are greatly improved. The home based system performs a daily scan of the patient’s feet and sends the data to the cloud for analysis through advanced algorithms capable of detecting abnormalities. By detecting skin damage early, the technology could enable healthcare providers to prevent hundreds of thousands of amputations, improving lives and significantly reducing costs. There were 15 ultimate winners with strong competition amongst this year’s entries. HIHI will now match the winning companies with relevant clinical teams, overseeing a study of each product in an Irish clinical setting. These pilot and clinical validation studies provide critical test beds to support Irish companies going to market and can identify any further refinements in the development cycle. The Tánaiste, Leo Varadkar said: “Irish start-ups are working at the cutting edge of healthcare, coming up with innovative solutions to improve the patient experience and patient outcomes. These successful 15 innovators have been chosen for their use of technology to make it easier for patients to manage chronic conditions, and to help with early diagnosis and prevention. I wish them the very best. The Government will continue to promote and invest in the life sciences sector, for the benefit of our economy and our wellbeing.” Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, said: “HIHI has done tremendous work over the last number of years in bringing industry and the health service together to validate innovative products and services. Innovation is essential as we reimagine our health service and implement Sláintecare and I am pleased to see the wide range of ideas put forward, including in the area of digital health, that have been successful in this call. The strength of the Hub is in collaboration and in developing enduring partnerships – both with industry and importantly with the health services - these are key to its success.  I wish all concerned well in the implementation of these ideas.” Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Consultant Endocrinologist at Saolta University Healthcare Group, commented: “NUI Galway and Saolta University Health Care Group are happy to host the Galway component of HIHI, which is a major element of the medtech system in the West of Ireland. HIHI is a major part of the link between academia, business and clinic, a partnership which is so crucial to the translation of innovative ideas for patient and economic benefit.” HIHI is a joint initiative of the Department of Health and Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation. Its activity is strengthened through the support of Enterprise Ireland and the HSE.  HIHI offers companies the opportunity for pilot studies and provides the health service with access to innovative products, services and devices. Since it was launched in September 2016, HIHI has managed 300 company engagements, 193 of these have resulted in follow-up support activities and 60 of these have developed into active projects within the Irish healthcare system. HIHI also recently triaged almost 200 innovative healthcare solutions through its Covid-19 Innovation Portal. Irish companies are developing innovative healthcare solutions for patients at home and internationally, by supporting these companies through HIHI, we are strengthening our economy while improving patient care. For further information on the winning companies visit -Ends-

Monday, 6 July 2020

NUI Galway researchers and company partners have been awarded over €10.3 million in Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF). The Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund was established under Project Ireland 2040 and is run by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation with administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. 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, also Galway based. ONK Therapeutics is also an NUI Galway spin out who are a clinically focused company who have developed a disease-specific cell product approach to tough to treat cancers.  Professors Martin O’Halloran, Adnan Elahi and Leo Quinlan will co-lead the project that will allow the Translational Medical Device Lab (TMD-Lab) to continue and grow its research collaboration with AuriGen Medical. The project will support the development of a novel medical device for the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation and ultimately stroke. The project will explore the fundamental science of electroporation on both a cellular and tissue level, while also translating this basic science into a refined and optimised patient treatment. The TMD-Lab has significant experience in ablation, working across Radio Frequency, Microwave and Electroporation technologies, with a range of national and international industry partners. This large three year project will allow the team to further cement its expertise in this growing medical device field, and become a European leader in ablation research. The second project in collaboration with AuriGen Medical will support the development of sensors for monitoring the treatment of Atrial Fibrillation, and long-term patient management to prevent stroke and other heart diseases. The sensors and monitoring system will aid in delivering effective treatment and allow for data-driven disease management in associated long-term heart conditions. Led by Professor William Wyns and Dr Atif Shahzad from the Smart Sensors Laboratory, the team will extend its existing expertise and knowledge in the area of novel biosensors and AI driven connected health solutions to deliver on this multifaceted technology challenge.   Enterprise Ireland Distruptive Technologies Department Manager, Imelda Lambkin, extended congratulations to Professor Wyns and Dr Shahzad and AuriGen Medical, commenting: "I congratulate AuriGen Medical and their research partners in the Translational Medical Device and Smart Sensors Labs at NUI Galway on their success in the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. Such collaboration between an NUI Galway spin-out company and its high quality academic research teams is exactly what we look for in this Fund, where we are focussed on developing game-changing technologies with the potential to disrupt markets. We look forward to supporting the team in achieving their global ambition of bringing novel cardiac implants to fruition.” Dr Janusz Krawczyk and Professor Michael O’Dwyer will co-lead the DTIF project- Towards safe and effective off-the-shelf cellular therapy for cancer- which will see a collaboration between the Centre for Cell Manufacturing Ireland and ONK Therapeutics Ltd. The project will concentrate on the development of highly potent, safe, standardized, off the shelf therapy using modified Natural Killer cells.  Natural killer cells, also known as NK cells, are a type of cytotoxic lymphocytes critical to the innate immune system. The modification with Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CAR-NK) will improve their therapeutic efficacy. With the expertise and proprietary technologies of both partners within this consortium, they will develop modified NK cells that may be capable of tackling multiple types of cancer. Professor Timothy O’Brien, Dean of the College of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway and Consultant Endocrinologist at Saolta University Healthcare Group acknowledges the key role of collaborations between NUI Galway and industry for medical advancement: “Funding, like the Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund, makes it possible for innovative academic teams to partner with local indigenous industry to develop essential medical innovations. It provides the supportive environment for collaborative break-throughs. Galway has extraordinary talent and I look forward to the results of these complex projects.” -Ends-

Friday, 19 June 2020

Aaron Hannon, a research fellow at the Translational Medical Device Lab at NUI Galway has been shortlisted to the last 20 of the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the Year Award. This programme honours ten outstanding young people under the age of 40 each year, individuals who exemplify the spirit of the JCI Mission and provide extraordinary service to their communities. These ten young active citizens will be honoured during the 2020 JCI World Congress, due to be held in Yokahama, Japan in November.  Speaking on the shortlisting Aaron said: “Being nominated is a reflection on how lucky I am to have worked with so many amazing people – I have the incredible honour of being supported by outstanding colleagues at the Translational Medical Device Lab, LaunchPad and the School of Medicine at NUI Galway. This honour is a result of their excellence and support and I’m grateful to count on them, and on family and friends.” Narrowing the 2020 top twenty finalists to the final ten honourees will be done by the judging panel, but also by public popular online vote. Congratulating Aaron on the shortlisting announcement, Professor Martin O’Halloran, Director of the Translational Device Lab at NUI Galway, said: “Aaron is a stellar engineer, innovator and researcher. But what has really impressed me about Aaron are his other attributes- his leadership, his emotional intelligence and the humility with which he approaches his work. He is a great example of all that is good in the next generation of Irish innovators.” Originally County Mayo, Aaron first got involved in medical device innovation designing for his grandfather, who suffered from severe post-stroke paralysis. He created a voice-controlled automatic shaving device, and founded a start-up to bring that device to more people. Aaron later started Lily Devices, a research project aiming to prevent hair loss from chemotherapy. Through talking directly with patients, he is researching a comfortable and elegant device that would prevent hair loss during chemotherapy, and he is leading a team at NUI Galway who have secured funding from Enterprise Ireland to continue researching hair loss prevention solutions for chemotherapy patients. The Lily Devices Team has won numerous national and international accolades, like the EIT Health Headstart Award, as well as first place in CRAASH Barcelona, a Europe-wide accelerator program for medical device start-ups. He was named Mayo’s Best Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2019. Since the beginning of the global pandemic Aaron has dedicated his time to the needs of patients battling COVID-19. He led two multidisciplinary teams to develop a solution for open-sourced, low cost ventilators, and hopes devices like this can be used in the longer term to reduce inequality in medical device innovation. Aaron and Medical student Emily Wallace were instrumental in fundraising for emergency ventilators and raised €150,000 through a Go Fund Me initiative.     Aaron uses his design, engineering and entrepreneurship background to keep patients at the center of the design process specifically to improve quality of life. He believes in giving back to his community by providing STEM education opportunities to young people. To vote for Aaron Hannon to get to the final of the JCI Ten Outstanding Persons of the World at -Ends-

Monday, 8 June 2020

The annual AtlanTec Festival went virtual in 2020 for the first time in its six year history. For five days, from May 18-22, the festival’s 30 online events reached a total audience of over 2,500 people. Virtual presentations covered topics and trends in tech and digital innovation in the fields of AI, cybersecurity, fintech, medtech, mindfulness and leadership. This year’s line-up also included a special focus on COVID-19 and featured NUI Galway researchers who are responding to the pandemic with innovative solutions. There were speakers and attendees from 23 countries and over 350 different companies and universities, in what was an AtlanTec Festival like no other this year. Speaking about the festival, Caroline Cawley, CEO of itag, said: “'Virtual work methods have catapulted us as fast as COVID-19 itself and the strong tech cluster along the Atlantec Gateway rallied in the fall-out to host a real world virtual technology festival.  Supported by Cisco Webex Platform and our amazing tech companies we brought over 30 keynote speakers to devices around the world.  Congrats to everyone involved especially the AtlanTec Festival Committee and our supporters.” The AtlanTec festival usually takes places around various Galway venues during April/May with in-company events hosted by the many large tech companies and vibrant start-ups in the region. Traditionally, the festival culminates with a day-long conference at NUI Galway with up to 400 attendees. This year, the multiple-event festival was run on the Cisco Webex conferencing platform. Cisco, with a 200+ strong R&D site in Galway supporting the Webex platform, has long been a partner of the festival. The festival is supported by Avaya, Cisco, itag Skillnet, Fidelity Investments, Genesys and NUI Galway. To see the recordings of the sessions or to find out more about Atlantec, visit -Ends-      

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Irish scientists have collaborated to develop an innovative autonomous drone platform to deliver sterilising ultraviolet light from above to disinfect public surfaces and therefore reduce the transmission of coronavirus and other microbial threats Researchers at NUI Galway’s Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE) Lab have developed a novel method of providing sterilising ultraviolet light radiation in a wide variety of environments by harnessing the versatility of unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. The project is led by NUI Galway’s Professor Derek O’Keeffe and Dr Ted Vaughan, with Dr Kevin Johnson from the University of Limerick. As the world recovers from the first surge of COVID-19, there is a real need for a novel and versatile solutions to sanitise the wide terrain variety of public places. These include hospital wards, restaurants, trains, buses, planes, shopping centres, airport terminals, restrooms, amongst other. To help combat this issue the research team have developed @UVCDrone which uses ultraviolet (UV) light to sterilise surfaces. UV light (10-400 nm) is not visible to the human eye and is divided into three bands UVA, UVB and UVC. The @UVCDrone uses UVC (100-280nm) which is high frequency, short wavelength radiation that can destroy the genetic material of microorganisms, preventing them from reproducing and thereby providing the ability to sterilise surfaces. Its germicidal action has been used for decades in water, air, laboratory and medical applications. Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician University Hospital Galway, Professor Derek O’Keeffe said: “We need innovative solutions to fight COVID-19 and our @UVCDrone solution allows the delivery of sterilising ultraviolet light to a wide variety of public space landscapes from staircases to shop floors.” UVC light is harmful to humans, so the @UVCDrone delivers the UVC light when the public space is unoccupied, such as at night time. The drone is programmed to switch on at a pre-defined time, autonomously fly around the public space using a bespoke AI algorithm and when finished cleaning, land again for recharging. Dr Kevin Johnson, University of Limerick added: “COVID19 is a public health emergency and @UVCDrone is another important tool to help us defeat it.” For more information visit -Ends-

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

The cardiology team at Galway University Hospitals (GUH) and NUI Galway researchers have carried out a first-in-man clinical trial for a sensor which detects changes in the health of patients with heart failure and securely transmits the information to the care team for review, allowing for clinical intervention to prevent a heart failure flare-up resulting in urgent hospitalisation. This technology is particularly relevant now during restricted movements when patients with underlying conditions are cocooning to minimise the chances of contracting COVID-19. Over the past 18 months, seven patients with advanced heart failure have had a Cordella Sensor implanted in their right pulmonary artery to monitor their heart pressure. Using a secure cloud-based system, the physiological data from the sensor can be read daily by the clinical team in the hospital who can identify if there is a change in the patients’ condition and modify their medication and make other decisions on their care. Dr Faisal Sharif, Consultant Cardiologist at GUH and Director of Cardiovascular Research and Innovation Centre at NUI Galway is the lead for the clinical trial. He said, “Patients with advanced heart failure usually have 3 or 4 hospital admissions per year with each stay lasting between 2 and 3 weeks in order to get their flare-up under control. However, there are changes in the pressure of the pulmonary artery around a week before a flare-up and if these changes are detected in time, myself or my colleague Dr John Barton can make changes to the patients’ medication which will prevent the flare-up and the subsequent hospital admission. “To monitor the pressure in the pulmonary artery we insert a tiny sensor into the artery – it is a simple procedure that just requires an overnight in hospital. We can then receive the data from the patients when they are at home via a hand-held reader which they hold over the sensor and this in turns transmits the information directly to our clinic by wifi. “In addition, the Cordella System includes Bluetooth-enabled devices to measure blood pressure, weight, heart rate and oxygen saturation which all connect to our clinic. We then have all the data we need to assess the patient without the patient having to leave home. “Since the clinical trial started 18 months ago, none of the patients who have taken part have been admitted to hospital with heart-related illnesses. Also, they no longer need to travel to outpatient clinics which would typically involve 6 or 8 visits per year. This greatly improves the quality of life for our patients and during this time of cocooning, it is one less worry for them. “Besides the convenience of being able to check their condition at home, this new technology allows the patient to become actively involved in their treatment. The patients become part of the team and are empowered and motivated to get involved in managing their own care themselves.” John O’Connor, a patient from Galway City said, “This technology gives me peace of mind that my heart pressures are being monitored constantly by hospital staff without the need for me to go into the hospital. Since I’ve had the sensor I’ve had no hospital admissions for almost two years. I would highly recommend this to other patients.” Dr Pat Nash, Consultant Cardiologist at GUH and Chief Clinical Director, Saolta University Health Care Group added, “This pandemic is forcing us to look at new and innovative ways to deliver high quality care to our patients while also taking precautions against the risks that are associated with close contact that is the normal part of a clinical examination. The success of this clinical trial can be measured in the improvements in the patients’ quality of life, the dramatic reduction in the need for hospitalisation and the enhanced role that the patients are able to play in their own care. All of these successes are even more significant in light of the current public health measures and the need to protect patients with long-term underlying conditions.” Ms Chris Kane, General Manager, Galway University Hospitals said, “As we continue to contend with the challenges of resuming to a new-normal, we will need to embrace technology where it is appropriate for the clinical setting and our patients. This is an excellent example of providing quality care in a patient’s own home environment to a level as close as possible to a hospital visit.” The second phase of the clinical trial has just commenced and is open for patients with heart failure, who meet certain criteria and are being treated at the Heart Failure Clinic in GUH. The technology has been developed by a US-based company called Endotronix. The trial has been running simultaneously in Ireland and Genk, Belgium. Ends

Friday, 8 May 2020

Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, today announced the first winner of the SFI Future Innovator Prize, Dr Alison Liddy and her project team at NUI Galway. Dr Liddy and the project team have been awarded €1million for their project, Hydrobloc, a novel and transformative treatment for people suffering from chronic pain. A special prize of €500,000 was also awarded to Prof Dominic Zerulla and his team at PEARlabs, University College Dublin (UCD), in recognition of the potential impact of their project to develop a novel, nanoscale biological imaging technology. The SFI Future Innovator Prize, funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation through Science Foundation Ireland, is part of an overall government plan to cultivate challenge-based funding in Ireland. This prize challenges the country’s best and brightest unconventional thinkers and innovators to create novel, potentially disruptive technologies in collaboration with societal stakeholders and end-users. Commenting on the awards Minister Humphreys, TD, said: “Congratulations to the Hydrobloc team on winning this prestigious award and leading the way with this much needed novel and innovative treatment for chronic pain. Such was the potential from this Challenge Funding programme, that a special award was received by the PEARlabs team for their pioneering research in nano-microscopy. At this time, as we battle an unprecedented pandemic we clearly need disruptive science and technology to help us find solutions. I am delighted to support the SFI Future Innovator Prize programme and wish the winning teams all the best as they continue their journey and further develop their concepts for the benefit of society.” Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan added: “I extend my congratulations and look forward to seeing these innovative concepts come to fruition. In the current climate and this rapidly changing world, fast response and agility are required in order to tackle the enormous societal issues we face. The challenge funding model, in tandem with our traditional research models, gives us a greater chance of developing the tools to help us quickly address current crises with dynamic and transformative solutions.”  The SFI Future Innovator Prize has a strong team focus with each member bringing necessary expertise to advance the project. Teams work to tight deadlines, with the necessary supports and flexibility, in order to accelerate progression towards their proposed solutions. Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “The SFI Future Innovator Prize is part of an approach to cultivate challenge-based funding in Ireland to accelerate and validate excellent and innovative solutions to critical societal and global issues. The Hydrobloc team headed by Dr Alison Liddy proved to be worthy first winners, successfully completing all aspects of this demanding and disruptive programme with the potential to alleviate chronic neuropathic pain with a novel nanogel. I am delighted to say that the calibre of research supported has been so high that a special award was made to Prof Dominic Zerulla and his team for their novel imaging technology.” Chronic neuropathic pain sufferers live with constant pain, which has a significant personal and societal impact. Neuropathic pain is caused by damage or disease affecting the sensory nervous system (the part of the nervous system responsible for processing sensory information).  It is estimated that 8% of the European population suffer from neuropathic pain, 300,000 in Ireland alone. The Hydrobloc nanogel (a nanogel is a tiny particle of submicroscopic size) provides long term pain relief which is drug free without the severe side effects of prescription medications. On winning the Final Prize Dr Alison Liddy said:“The SFI Future Innovator Prize has been pivotal in allowing the Hydrobloc team at NUIG to significantly progress our research and realise its potential. We are honoured to win the final prize and have no doubt after being through the programme that there is a world class level of innovative talent in Ireland which will benefit our country in the future.” The SFI Future Innovator Prize has enabled the Hydrobloc project to significantly progress along the patient pathway, further validate the clinical need among stakeholders, expand potential clinical indications, and develop and refine the core technology through extensive pre-clinical testing. Asked about the experience of participating in the Future Innovator Prize programme, Dr Liddy added: “A unique aspect of the challenge programme is the social impact element which emphasised the societal aspects of our solution with crucial input not just from clinicians, but also from patients. By incorporating this Public and Patient Involvement (PPI) paradigm we have integrated the voice of the patient into Hydrobloc and ensured that the core goal is the development of a treatment that will improve the lives of patients living with debilitating pain. The programme has also introduced us to an exciting network of brilliantly innovative scientists and importantly has opened the door to investors.” The UCD PEARlabs team, led by Prof Dominic Zerulla, UCD School of Physics, developed a highly innovative imaging solution that enables super-fast real-time nanoscale optical microscopy. This aims to transform our understanding of processes such as cell signalling and cell proliferation in cancer. Their project was entitled, Enabling Next Generation Biological Imaging. On receiving the Award, Prof Dominic Zerulla, founder PEARlabs said: “I am delighted to receive this award, which is verification that the transformative potential of our disruptive imaging method has been recognised. Our PEARlabs technology will allow life science researchers to understand bio-medically relevant mechanisms to enable an unparalleled in-depth understanding of life-threatening diseases such as cancer and pandemic viral infections, including the coronavirus. This will in turn facilitate the development of faster drug delivery and testing.” The patented technology can therefore aid early diagnostics, precision medicine and the delivery of improved drug treatments. It also has the potential to be used as an add-on to conventional optical microscopes opening up access to ‘nm resolution imaging’ for many fields of science. Asked about the experience of participating in the Future Innovator Prize challenge Prof Zerulla remarked: “Our journey to the SFI Future Innovator Prize was extremely exciting. Successfully getting through the rigorous evaluation process, consisting of three competitive rounds and being able to enthusiastically demonstrate our research to national and international expert panels was quite an experience. This external validation has been very important for PEARlabs (a UCD spin-out supported by NovaUCD) which is currently in negotiations with international investors and global companies.” The awards will be used by the winning teams to further develop their solutions and enable them to progress their research toward having positive impacts for society.  More recently SFI launched two further challenge programmes, the Artificial Intelligence for Societal Good Challenge and the Zero Emissions Challenge in partnership with Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. ENDS

Thursday, 7 May 2020

NUI Galway researchers today announced a collaboration with US medtech company Endotronix in a project ‘CRÓGA’ to use telehealth for remote management of heart failure during COVID-19. Heart failure patients who contract COVID-19 face substantially elevated risk of death or severe debilitation so it is imperative to protect heart failure patients from exposure to the virus by isolating them at home as much as possible. However, the need for outpatient clinic cardiology assessment directly conflicts with the need to isolate this extremely vulnerable population. Chicago-based Endotronix has developed a health management system for chronic heart failure patients, including a cloud-based disease management data system and an implantable wireless pulmonary artery pressure system. This system allows remote monitoring of key clinical information of the patients. In a pilot study, Endotronix’ Cordella™ heart failure management system home telehealth kits will be rapidly deployed to heart failure patients in the northwest of Ireland. These kits are specifically designed to activate and use without leaving home. Daily readings include blood pressure, pulse, oxygen saturation, body weight and ECG. Readings are uploaded to a cloud server and analysed at least twice weekly by dedicated NUI Galway/UHG clinical research staff. Using phone, text, or email, the clinical staff provides advice, asks/answers questions, adjusts medications, and decides whether further therapy is needed.  Additionally, missed daily readings or deteriorating vitals may indicate a patient’s health has seriously degraded, triggering follow-up action. The project will be committed to the principles inherent in the GDPR and provide a compliant and consistent approach to data protection. Dr Faisal Sharif, the project lead said: “We have seen an unprecedented growth in the capacity to produce, store, and communicate data, in digital formats. Internet-based platforms now allow patients and the healthcare providers to communicate with each other through cloud-based systems. Endotronix Cordella system will enable physicians to review important clinical information from these high risk patients while they remain safe in their own homes. This clinical information will be used to plan further treatment for the patients remotely. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of eHealth and technologies like Cordella can help us save lives of these vulnerable patients.” Dr Haroon Zafar, the project co-lead said: “The double hit of heart failure and COVID-19 pandemic has raised great concerns for people living with heart failure. Ireland needs a better way to empower its cardiology resources to address heart failure during COVID-19. It must leverage telehealth technology to move heart failure management towards a preventive, home-based, patient-centred paradigm. The concept proven by project CRÓGA may be applied to other chronic underlying conditions that increase mortality risk during pandemics.” David Fitzpatrick, Advanced Research and Development Manager at Endotronix Ireland said: “We are excited to work with NUI Galway to aid some of our most vulnerable patients in these difficult times. Using our Cordella System, we want to ensure a high standard of care and peace of mind for heart failure patients while cocooning. Cordella allows home based, remote, daily monitoring of user health vitals so that their clinical team can monitor and adjust treatment efficiently and without the need for an in-person clinic visit.”                                                                                         -Ends-

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

App being trialled by healthcare workers before being made available to general public for phase one of Government’s reopening plan Researchers at NUI Galway’s Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE) Lab, led by Professor Derek O’Keeffe, have developed a new smartphone app to help with social distancing. As recommended by the World Health Organisation, one of the basic principles in minimising the spread of this infectious disease is social distancing. It is currently suggested that people should have a space of at least 2 metres around them to reduce the chance of respiratory spread of the disease from person to person.  ‘SPACER – The Social Distancing App’ aims to reduce the problem of person to person spacing by harnessing ubiquitous smartphone technology and a novel algorithm which uses the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) protocol, to alert hospital staff if they are less than 2m from each other via a vibration alarm. The system is currently being evaluated at Galway University Hospital and will thereafter be available for the general public. Following this evaluation, The SPACER app will be made available for download for phase one of the government’s plan to reopen Ireland on May 18th.   The app vibrates when someone else with the Spacer App on their phone (or with Bluetooth enabled) is less than 2m for over one minute. If the SPACER app vibrates, then the person can either move further away from someone nearby or suspend the alarm for 10minutes if it was not possible to move straight away, for example health care workers performing a clinical procedure. Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUI Galway and Consultant Physician University Hospital Galway, Professor Derek O’Keeffe said: “Implementing the 2 metre social distancing can be difficult to manage in busy work environments such as hospitals, and it is vital that frontline staff stay adequately distanced to ensure that they do not spread the virus between themselves. Unfortunately globally to date healthcare workers are the occupation that have made up the largest percentage of people affected by the COVID19 pandemic due to their clinical work and their working environment. Therefore we urgently need an active and dynamic solution to help this vulnerable cohort and the general public to maintain social distance.” “The approach to managing COVID19 with digital health solutions can be thought of like fire safety, our SPACER App is like fire prevention – trying to prevent people from staying in contact too close and for too long”, continued Professor O’Keeffe. Dr Ramona McLoughlin, Clinical Director – Medicine Saolta Group and Gastroenterologist at Galway University Hospitals, added: “Maintaining social distancing is particularly challenging in health care settings, particularly a busy acute hospital like University Hospital Galway. The SPACER App will help staff be more aware of their proximity to their colleagues and help them, where possible, maintain the 2 mt distance and help protect themselves, their colleagues and our patients.” The SPACER App is currently being used by doctors and nurses working in the Acute Medical Unit (AMU) of Galway University Hospital. Dr Colin Davenport, Acute Medical Unit Consultant at University Hospital Galway said: “Following distancing guidelines as much as possible is a vital part of controlling this pandemic. By making health care professionals aware of when they are getting too close to others around them the SPACER app has the potential to significantly reduce any spread of coronavirus amongst staff and patients, and ultimately to prevent more cases of COVID-19 emerging.” HIVE Lab collaborators involved with developing this innovative digital health solution include: Mark Cahill, Grainne Conefrey, D. Kevin Johnson, Dr Spyridoula Maraka, Conor McGuire, Garry McNulty, and Jerico Pingul. More details on the project can be found at -Ends-

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Seven new NUI Galway projects to respond to the COVID-19 emergency were announced by Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD today.  The rapid response research projects are part of the national, coordinated research and innovation funding response to the COVID-19 pandemic involving leading funding and innovation agencies*. The seven NUI Galway projects to be awarded funding are:  Equipment to make it easier and safer for patients with COVID-19 to breathe Expediting the diagnosis of COVID-19 in a clinical setting using AI enabled analysis of CT scans Improving long-term patient recovery and reducing disability after COVID-19 critical illness using microRNA-based approaches Identifying mental health needs and best practice for psychological support in frontline healthcare workers during and after the COVID-19 outbreak and in future pandemics Modelling real-time population-wide impacts of COVID-19 Optimising Covid-19 social distancing communications: Identifying and addressing psychosocial determinants of social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic Rapid response and learning for later: establishing high quality information networks and evaluation frameworks for the National Ambulance Service response to COVID-19 Speaking today, NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said:  “As a region renowned for creativity and as a global medtech hub, our University has been to the fore in looking at innovations that can support the response to the COVID-19 crisis.  Our main aim is to serve the public good and the range of activities announced today highlight how we are working not only to address the health challenges created by this pandemic, but also our understanding of the economic and social implications. “It’s important that as a society, we firstly address the current crisis and then look to the future.  We find ourselves having to re-imagine our humanity as we face new times and new realities. Our community is at the centre of innovations to respond to the crisis and the solutions to restore our society after this pandemic.”    Vice President of Research at NUI Galway, Professor Lokesh Joshi added: "There has been a tremendous response to the COVID-19 pandemic from our research and innovation community here in Galway. Our people have mobilised across all the disciplines and are collaborating to find innovative approaches and new insights for this globally-shared challenge.  Ireland's COVID-19 Rapid Response research and innovation funding initiative is a welcome support to these efforts, and I congratulate the many NUI Galway awardees whose projects seek to benefit patients, frontline healthcare workers, and wider society." *Health Research Board, Irish Research Council, Science Foundation Ireland, IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland. About the Projects Dr Aaron Golden, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics, aims to build an AI imaging system to support radiology teams in expedited diagnosis of early stage COVID-19 disease using CT scans. The project will build on published open source data from China and, working with clinical radiologists in Ireland, differentiate using a desktop tool a COVID-19 patient's CT scan as opposed to that of a patient with community acquired pneumonia or other more common lung disorders. The project team includes Dr. Christoph Kleefeld (Medical Physics & Clinical Engineering, University Hospital Galway) and Dr. Declan Sheppard (Clinical Director of Radiology, University Hospital Galway). Siobhan Masterson, Discipline of General Practice, will provide information networks  and evaluation tools that will help the National Ambulance Service (NAS). With the NAS at the forefront of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in a climate of innovation and adaptation, the project will include learnings from ambulance services abroad and share the Irish experience. Professor Brian McGuire, School of Psychology, will identify best-practice guidance for mental health specialists and managers tasked with supporting front-line workers struggling with psychological distress due to the COVID-19 crisis. The project will include includes psychologists, a psychiatrist and ICU doctors based both in Ireland and in Italy. Dr Gerry Molloy, School of Psychology, seeks to better understand what will help people understand and achieve the required level of physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will help inform public health officials as to how best to communicate about the need for current and any future relaxed distancing measures. Professor Cathal O’Donoghue, Dean of Arts and Social Sciences, will develop a mechanism to deliver real-time analysis of the economic, social and health implications of COVID-19 related interventions. By modelling household incomes, taxes and benefits, the project will help identify who is most likely to suffer from loss of income, leading to more effective targeting and budgeting of income support measures. Professor Martin O’Halloran and Professor John Laffey will further develop their CPAP/BiPAP Hood for safe oxygen delivery to COVID-19 patients. Supported by local med-tech companies, the multidisciplinary Inspire team are developing oxygen equipment that is easy to manufacture and safe to use, and will reduce risk of infection to front-line healthcare staff and help reduce the demand on more invasive, mechanical ventilators for patients.  The INSPIRE team is composed NUI Galway and GMIT researchers, UHG clinicians, medical physics and nursing staff, and is supported by groups and individuals from across Galway, including local medtech, ICT, manufacturing, and quality and regulatory advisors. Dr Kasia Whysall,  Disciplineof Physiology, aims to help improve long-term patient recovery by reducing muscle wasting and frailty, especially among older patients. Her approach will investigate whether microRNAs, small molecules which regulate the function of our cells, can predict or improve muscle health and strength following critical illness such as COVID-19.  The project is a collaboration with NUI Galway’s Dr Brian McDonagh and Professor John Laffey, Dr Bairbre McNicholas of University Hospital Galway, Professor Ken O'Halloran from UCC and Dr Rónán O’Caoimh from Mercy University Hospital Cork. For details of other COVID-19 projects from NUI Galway - -Ends-

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

NUI Galway Research Fellows and UHG staff introduce video calling system using Cisco software and hardware donated by Cisco with the free support of IBM volunteers and the wider Galway community University Hospital Galway (UHG) has introduced a new video call system known as ICU FamilyLink which will enable contact between families, patients and the clinical teams providing care. This is particularly important as currently visitors are not permitted in the hospital, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the visiting restrictions were introduced in early March, the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) team in Galway appreciated that it was going to be very difficult to keep families and patients in the ICU updated and connected, particularly where family members may be in physical isolation in different locations. In an effort to address these challenges, the ICU team at UHG reached out to its academic partners in NUI Galway, who in turned reached out to industry contacts in Galway and beyond. NUI Galway, Cisco and IBM assembled a team to answer the call and working closely with the ICU and Clinical Engineering teams in UHG, have rapidly developed a state-of-the-art video call system specifically for the ICU setting. The systems runs on the hospital’s Cisco Enterprise Wireless Network using Cisco Webex Meetings software and Cisco Webex Devices donated from Cisco’s software development office in Oranmore. The secure system is designed for easy setup where close family members are invited by the nurse looking after the patient, to see and speak to their loved one. ICU FamilyLink also enables staff to advise the family and discuss medical and treatment issues that arise. The project is supported by a team of IBM volunteers who are available by phone to family members to offer any technical support. The system is complemented by Apple iPads to facilitate staff-to-staff Webex video calls. All the equipment and expertise required to get this system operational has been kindly donated by the collaborators and a wider set of supportive organisations. Commenting Chris Kane, Hospital Manager said, “We are very grateful to everyone who has given their time and expertise to support the delivery of such an important project in such a short timeframe. The last number of weeks have been very difficult for patients in ICU and their families; the staff recognised this and wanted to do something to support them.” Ann Conroy, Clinical Nurse Manager 3 who works in the ICU in UHG said, “The system was designed and implemented to make it as easy as possible for the nurse caring for the patient to use safely and securely. This was based on listening to the nurses and addressing the needs that we identified. The simplicity of the unit is what makes this such a success for the nurses who are busy caring for the patient and for the families who are at home. Also the quality of the video image is excellent which means it is as close as a family member will get to being in the ICU.” Mrs Maura McNamara, the wife of a patient from Galway City who was treated in the ICU said, “We got an opportunity to use the video conferencing system to keep in touch with my husband while he was in the ICU. It was fantastic to get to see him and how he was doing and get updates from the nurses. It is difficult not being able to visit the hospital and this was the next best thing to being there.” Irial Conroy and Dr Aoife Murray, both NUI Galway Research Fellows said, “In Galway we are fortunate to have existing partnerships between UHG, NUI Galway, Tech and MedTech companies. This meant that a team could be formed in less than a day, and the project could be delivered in less than 3 weeks. Having a mix of medical and technical skills on the core team, was key to introducing this into the complex hospital setting. The hospital staff were key in advocating the needs of patients and families.” David Bermingham, Director of AI Applications, IBM Ireland, commented, “COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges for frontline medical professionals and patients’ families who cannot visit loved ones in hospital. I am very grateful to all the IBM volunteers who are dedicating time as part of the team to help set up and customise the experience to make it easy for families to stay connected in difficult times.” “The frontline medics are the real heroes here; we’re just proud to play our small part. Deploying a solution like this across multiple organisations would typically take months. However, through collaboration and commitment, we were able to do this far faster, to help patients and their loved ones stay connected during these exceptional times. I’m grateful to all the skilled volunteers who made this happen”, added Keith Griffin, Site Leader, Cisco Galway. This initiative would not have been possible without Irial Conroy (NUI Galway and IBM), Dr Aoife Murray (NUI Galway), Brian O’Donoghue (Cisco), Breda McColgan (IBM), PJ McKenna (IBM), Frank Kirrane (GUH), Leonie Cullen (GUH), Dr Bairbre McNicholas (GUH), GUH IT department, Cisco, IBM and wider GUH, NUI Galway staff and other organisations that kindly provided support. Ends

Friday, 17 April 2020

New technology to protect Defence Forces, HSE and An Post staff against COVID-19 This week Aquila Bioscience started delivery of AntiBioAgent Decontamination Wipes (ABDs) to frontline services in Ireland, including the Defence Forces, the HSE and An Post.  ABDs will serve as a safe and effective decontamination wipe for first-responders, healthcare workers and postal workers to reduce the spread of COVID-19. ABDs contain components that bind to and decontaminate the surface, trapping the virus for safe disposal. Unlike other decontamination methods, which contain chemicals that can be harmful to skin, ABDs contain no harmful ingredients and can be used on skin and sensitive mucosal areas such as eyes, nose and mouth (the main portals for virus infection). Aquila is a spin-out of NUI Galway, and the concept for this technology was driven by the Irish Defence Forces and an identified capability need in the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) protection measures. ABD technology was developed by University researchers to safely and effectively decontaminate multiple bio-threat agents (including viruses), and its use will significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19. Professor Lokesh Joshi, the founder of Aquila Bioscience and Vice-President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway said: “It was the pioneering work done with the Defence Forces Ordnance Corps in countering biological pathogens that led to the development of the ABDs, and the hope is by now putting these in the hands of frontline workers, it will allow them to more effectively protect themselves and the people they’re helping in the fight against coronavirus.”  Speaking today, Comdt Sharon McManus from the Defence Forces said: “The Defence Forces needs to innovate their procedures and technologies regularly to deal with constant challenges presented to them, as well as to gain value and efficiency for the organisation. Research, technology and innovation activities are long term cycles and the ABDs are an example of this innovation cycle. Collaboration started with Aquila Bioscience over four years over, when the Ordnance Corps identified a need for a specific PPE which would deal with chemical agents and through the research and development phases also discovered its relevance for biological agents. Aquila Bioscience, of NUI Galway, an Irish start up, were the ideal partners to work with in developing this product. The personal protection of our key asset, our people, is of the utmost importance to the Defence Forces. The Defence forces have now procured a large quantity of these ABDs and these will be distributed to our troops both at home and overseas for ongoing force protection as well as during the Covid-19 crisis.” In welcoming the official launch of the ABwipe, VADM Mark Mellett, DSM, Chief of Staff, Óglaigh na hÉireann remarked: “For many years I have been to the forefront in advocating for open diverse networks to sense and explore answers to challenging problems. In some cases we have created diverse partnerships to seize and exploit these ideas with a view to creating new technologies, with end user solutions to end user identified problems working with academia, enterprise and others. It was such a partnership that enabled our Defence Forces’ Ordnance Corps to collaborate with researchers from NUIG, as far back as 2016, to develop a cellulose based material for wipes and masks specifically designed to capture microbes such as COVID-19 virus, trapping them inside the material, thereby reducing transmission of the pathogen. I am delighted to see the culmination of our joint research and innovation with NUIG in delivering this non chemical, bio-degradable wipe for use by the Defence Forces and first responders from the HSE, An Post and others, during the COVID-19 crisis.” While there is significant demand for ABDs from other international armed forces and healthcare providers, Aquila is currently focused on supplying public service agencies in Ireland.  Professor Lokesh Joshi added: “As we ramp up our production over the coming weeks we’ll be better able to supply some of the international agencies currently seeking our help in the struggle in their countries, and make this new technology part of the global fight against COVID-19.” -Ends-

Friday, 10 April 2020

New system to safely deliver adjustable ventilation and will halve the number of ventilators needed for patients Clinicians and members of the medical technology (MedTech) sector in Galway have designed a new ventilation system to maximise the usage of ventilators treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Inspire Team, based at NUI Galway, have designed a new system to support clinicians to safely split ventilation between two patients, while maintaining the ability to individualize the breath size and the pressure levels required by each.  With health systems globally coming under significant pressure to ventilate COVID-19 patients, it is hoped this new system can help alleviate the pressure on resources in hospitals.  The system is being made available to health services globally on the website and it has been designed so that it can be replicated using medically approved ventilator equipment that already exists in most hospitals. The system allows for delivery of the correct lung volume based on each patient’s requirements which can be adjusted as necessary. The amount delivered can be verified through a tablet connected to the ventilator, giving more confidence to the clinicians through individual patient monitoring. The design has been approached from a COVID patient perspective. Patient requirements can vary and the team have ensured that the volume can be adjusted for each patient to cater for this and adjust over time as needed. This is particularly effective for people with lung disease or respiratory illness. Speaking today, alongside co-leads Jack Connolly and Atif Shahzad, Tim Jones said: “The team has come together mindful of the need for speed in developing and sharing solutions that can treat the COVID-19 pandemic. We are making our findings available to colleagues worldwide to help alleviate some of the pressure on hospitals challenged by a shortage of ventilators.  We are meanwhile moving to complete sensor and interface prototypes and rigorously test the full system, with all findings to be shared widely as soon as they’re available.” The Inspire Team is comprised of alumni of the BioInnovate medical device training programme at NUI Galway, who work throughout Galway, one of the world’s MedTech hubs, where approximately half of the world’s ventilators are produced.    Commenting on the potential benefits to hospitals Professor John Laffey, Professor of Anaesthesia at the School of Medicine in NUI Galway, and a Consultant in Anaesthesia and Intensive Care Medicine at Galway University Hospitals, remarked: “The idea of using a ventilator to ventilate the lungs of two patients is very much a last resort. Unfortunately, we have heard some reports of intensive care colleagues in other countries in the tragic situation of having to choose which one of two COVID-19 patients to offer ventilator support to. This innovation will change that decision from one of having to decide which patient to provide this life supporting technology to allowing one to provide ventilatory support to both patients, buying time to allow one source additional ventilators. This solution developed in Galway is an important advance over others because it allows one to control key ventilatory parameters for each patient separately, which is really important for a severe lung disease like COVID-19, and it monitors each patient separately.” Speaking today, President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “Experts in the Galway med-tech hub are playing an active part in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Inspire Team have come together from a range of industry and clinical backgrounds with one aim – to help patients during this pandemic.  It’s a core value of our University to work for the public good and the alumni of our Bioinnovate programme are exemplars of this mind-set, by sharing their knowledge globally to support health systems and humanity around the world.” -Ends-

Thursday, 9 April 2020

NUI Galway, University of Limerick, INSIGHT SFI Centre for Data Analytics and Orreco collaboration produces to track the spread of COVID19 Symptoms in Ireland NUI Galway has collaborated with the University of Limerick and Orreco on a new software package to track the spread of COVID19 symptoms in Ireland. is a free COVID19 symptom logging website that will be used as a tool to quickly and easily track the spread of COVID-19 in Ireland by gathering anonymous symptom data. This means that researchers can more accurately estimate the prevalence of COVID-19 infections and help authorities make timely, data-driven decisions about protective measures. Coronavirus Symptom Checker aims to gather information about the clinical presentation of COVID-19. This system is not intended for the diagnosis or treatment of disease but rather a collection of clinical symptoms in the context of COVID19. All data captured is anonymous and there is no way for it to be connected back to an individual. The aggregate anonymous data will be provided to the Irish health authorities to help with their planning and will be used in research by NUI Galway and University of Limerick to help prevent and mitigate future pandemics. Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Consultant Physician University Hospital Galway and Professor of Medical Device Technology at NUI Galway is leading the research. Professor O’Keeffe developed the innovative software solution with INSIGHT SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics (Dr Andrew Simpkin, Marc Mellotte, Carlos Tighe) and collaborators Dr Kevin Johnson, University of Limerick and Gearóid Hynes, Conor Maguire and Kevin McGinley of Orreco, with graphic design by Eamon Whyte. NUI Galway’s Professor Derek O’Keeffe said: “To defeat your enemy you must know where it is and the data from and COVID19 testing allows us to do this. Clinically it is important to know where COVID19 is in the community, so that we can plan accordingly and learn more about the disease. Globally other leading academic institutions, such as Harvard University, USA and Kings College London, have also seen the importance of this kind of research and developed country specific solutions. We expect that the Irish knowledge that we learn from this will help us all fight COVID19 both now and in the future.” INSIGHT’s Dr Andrew Simpkin said: " is an opportunity for citizen scientists to help us fight back against COVID19. Having a geographical and temporal picture of symptoms will allow us to answer critical research questions and give the health services a head start in testing. " Dr Gearóid Hynes, Orreco, said: “There is a lot to be learned about COVID19, such as how it spreads in the community and the prevalence of symptoms within the Irish population. By providing a simple mechanism for people in Ireland to record their symptoms helps address this knowledge gap and we at Orreco are honoured to help this initiative with our data science and software development expertise.“ Dr Kevin Johnson, University of Limerick, said:  “COVID19 is a global problem, we need innovative solutions. Everyone has to part to play with their different skills and that’s what my colleagues and I have done by helping to develop” For more information visit -Ends-

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Orbsen Therapeutics, a NUI Galway biotechnology company focused on the development and commercialization of first-in-class stromal cell immunotherapies, announced the beginning of a phase 2a clinical trial for the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in COVID-19 patients. Between 80-90% of COVID19 deaths are caused by acute respiratory failure. In hyper-inflammed diseases like COVID19 induced ARDS, stromal cell immunotherapy may work by pushing the overactive immune system into initiating a pro-resolving and anti-inflammatory response. In pre-clinical studies led and published by Professor John Laffey at NUI Galway ORBCEL demonstrated the ability to mitigate the effects of pneumonia induced ARDS by improving lung oxygenation, reducing inflammation, reducing oedema and decreasing bacterial infection. This trial of its second-generation immunotherapy, ORBCEL, follows the recent successful completion of a phase 1 trial in 2019 in patients with moderate-severe ARDS. The phase 2a trial, funded by the Wellcome Trust, has been approved by the UK’s Medical Health Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and REALIST has been identified by the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) as a National Urgent Public Health study. Professors Danny McAuley and Cecilia O’Kane at the UK’s Queen’s University Belfast, are leaders in the development and delivery of new medicines for critical care and ARDS and lead the trial which will includes five clinical sites in the United Kingdom. A recent statement from the four UK Chief Medical Officers outlined the importance of clinical trials amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Profssor Cecilia O’Kane – who leads the REALIST program highlighted:e “It is only through clinical trials will we be able to determine if new treatments are effective and safe in critically ill patients.” “The successful completion of ORBCEL’s phase 1 clinical trial confirms our belief in the potential of Orbsen's proprietary stromal cell immunotherapy technologies,” said Dr Larry Couture, CEO of Orbsen Therapeutics. “We believe ORBCEL will prove a valuable addition to the arsenal of therapies to combat the effects of COVID-19.” Orbsen CSO Dr Steve Elliman noted: “While there are over 100 vaccines & therapies in development targeting the SARS-CoV-2 infection - at present there are no disease modifying therapies approved for ARDS.  We’re delighted the REALIST trial was approved & listed by UK NIHR as an Urgent Public Health Research Study so we can continue assess the potential of our ORBCEL-C therapy in patients with ARDS and contribute to the global response to the COVID19 pandemic.” In pre-clinical studies led and published by Professor John Laffey at NUI Galway ORBCEL demonstrated the ability to mitigate the effects of pneumonia induced ARDS by improving lung oxygenation, reducing inflammation, reducing oedema and decreasing bacterial infection. Professor Laffey said: “This success is due to a large scale collaborative effort involving Queens University Belfast, Orbsen Therapeutics and the Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI) and CURAM at NUI Galway. It shows that we can rapidly adapt and offer a complex cell therapy intervention to patients in the time and resource pressured setting of a global pandemic. Clinical trials are the only way to rapidly and safely find therapies for this devastating condition.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

NUI Galway and University of Limerick collaboration to help front line clinical staff Researchers at NUI Galway and University of Limerick have designed a new innovative Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) emergency supply donation website to connect industry PPE stock to hospitals worldwide. The COVID19 pandemic has overwhelmed the resources of the world’s health systems, often leaving frontline clinical staff without the required PPE, as traditional supply logistic chains lag behind the surge. Professor Derek O’Keeffe, Consultant Physician University Hospital Galway and Professor of Medical Device Technology, NUI Galway, has developed this innovative solution with his engineering colleague Dr Kevin Johnson, University of Limerick, Ireland to help combat this problem. The new global platform,, allows local organisations, such as industry, business, universities, and laboratories, who may have PPE stock in supply to list the categories of what they have on inventory of PPE’s, such as gloves, gowns, goggles etc., with contact details and then drop a map pin to show their geographic location. If a COVID19 surge occurs in their geographic area, for example Cairo, Cork, Calgary, then the local hospital or clinic can simply click on the map of their surroundings and see what emergency PPE/Medical stock is in the vicinity and access it quickly. Professor Derek O’Keeffe said: “Speaking with my clinical colleagues across the world and looking at the repeating patterns of health supply logistics breakdowns that have occurred as COVID19 surges have swept across the world, it is clear that innovative alternative solutions need to be developed such as to enable frontline staff get vital PPE to keep them and their patients safe.” Dr Kevin Johnson said: “Everybody has a role to play in this fight against the COVID19 pandemic – that could be simply to self-isolate, use your skillset to create a website such as or donate any surplus supplies you might have to this worthy cause. With so much technology at our fingertips, why not use it for the good of your community. “ For more information visit -Ends-

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Aquila Bioscience, a pioneering Irish company, based at NUI Galway and the Irish Defence Forces have announced a collaboration with to provide Irish Defence Forces soldiers with its groundbreaking Anti-Bioagent Wipe (ABwipeTM). Aquila Bioscience and the Irish Defence Forces have been collaborating on this technology for over four years, with the Ordnance Corps actively engaged in the concept & product trials. Working with the Irish Defence Forces, the Department of Defence and the European Defence Agency Aquila Bioscience has developed a novel, safe, effective and environmentally friendly technology to decontaminate surfaces from bacterial, viral and biotoxin threats. ABwipeTM technology serves as a decontamination wipe for first-responders, healthcare workers and for civilians to significantly reduce and prevent pathogen transmission from person-to-person and therefore reducing the spread, panic and impact of the pathogen, as is the case with coronavirus COVID-19. Aquila Bioscience’s ABwipeTM contains components that bind to and decontaminate the surface, taking advantage of the virus’s own attack mechanism (in this case, carbohydrates and proteins). Because ABwipeTM contains no harmful ingredients, it can also be used on skin and sensitive mucosal areas such as eyes, nose and mouth (main portal for virus infection). Most existing decontamination solutions contain chemicals that are harmful to the skin, health of the user and to the environment. ABwipeTM technology was developed to safely and effectively decontaminate multiple bio-threat agents (including viruses), and its use will significantly reduce the spread of COVID19 and will help ensure that first responders and emergency workers are kept safe to allow them to react when called upon. Speaking today, Professor Lokesh Joshi, co-founder and director of Aquila Bioscience, and Vice-President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway said: “The concept for this technology was driven by the Irish Defence Forces and an identified capability need in the Chemical, Biological, Radiological & Nuclear (CBRN) protection measures. The innovative concept resulted in European Defence Agency supported research & development by Aquila Bioscience at NUI Galway and is just now ready for mass manufacture and could be a valuable technology in the fight against the Coronavirus. This unprecedented situation requires unprecedented measures and the DF have committed to the purchase of a consignment of the AB wipes for troop force protection measures.” At this time of global urgency and unknown impact on human lives and economy because of the COVID- 19 pandemic, ABwipeTM will serve as an essential tool in the arsenal against coronavirus to stem its spread and to save lives. For more details see or contact -Ends-

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

NUI Galway and Loci Orthopaedics Ltd recently initiated an Enterprise Ireland funded Innovation Partnership Programme project. The aim of this programme is to facilitate any company in accessing the latest skills and expertise from research institutes throughout Ireland. Commenting on the partnership, Dr Noel Harrison, Programme Director for the BE and ME Programmes in Mechanical Engineering at NUI Galway and Funded Investigator in the SFI centre I-Form, said: “Direct industry research engagement such as this, particularly with Galway’s Med-Tech global hub, is a critical feature of our activity in Mechanical Engineering. This project reflects the industrial relevance of 3D printing for our students and researchers. The state-of-the-art suite of printing capabilities in plastics, composites and metals in our Advanced Manufacturing Lab continues to attract multi-sector industry and academic collaborations for material and process optimisation and provides valuable experience for our students.” Dr Eimear O’Hara, NUI Galway graduate in Mechanical Engineering and Research Fellow on the project said: “I’m very excited to directly work with industry on this novel medical device project utilising the unique design freedoms of metal 3D Printing and our knowledge of the printing process and materials. It is fantastic to be able to design, manufacture and test novel orthopaedics devices in-house, thus enabling local start-up company growth.” Additive manufacturing continues to be an area of significant growth in the global healthcare technology space. The increase in the number of 3D-printed orthopaedic products along with the rise in orthopaedic complications are major growth aspects boosting the demand for 3D-printed orthopaedic implants. Declining cost differences between 3D-printed and traditionally manufactured implants are also enabling device manufacturers to expand the applications of 3D-printed in the musculoskeletal sector. In parallel to this, the number of 3D-printed medical devices cleared for clinical use by the FDA in the US has increased by 400% since 2014, indicating a tipping point has been reached in the acceptance of these implants by the regulators and the market. It is estimated that the total revenue generation associated with ‘additive orthopaedics’ in 2018 amounted to over $500M worldwide. This market is expected to grow at 6% per year. Speaking about the Innovation Partnership Programme, Loci Orthopaedics co-founder Dr Brendan Boland said: “The programme is a great opportunity to work within the Academia-Clinical-Industry model. The OsteoAnchor technology was originally developed by Dr Harrison, an international leader in the field of 3D printing for orthopaedic implants. The company now gets to work with Dr Harrison and his extensive technological knowledge to further develop this product. Loci Orthopaedics works with world-leading orthopaedic surgeons to develop evidence-based implants who can provide ongoing input into the incorporation of this technology into new implants. The company has already developed products in the area so have the expertise and extensive industry contacts that can help advance this product to market to enter into a rapidly growing and lucrative market segment.” -Ends-

Monday, 27 January 2020

“What we have developed is like a living Velcro that removes and traps pathogens” Nature-inspired wipes and masks which could capture and trap the Wuhan Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) are being developed by scientists at the Irish company Aquila Bioscience. This technology can be used by front-line personnel and civilians under risk of exposure as prophylactic measure to reduce viral transmission in places of contact such as hospitals and transportation hubs. The start-up, based at NUI Galway, has developed a chemical-free strategy that effectively removes bacteria, viruses, fungi and biological toxins from surfaces. Positive results have been achieved against a number of pathogens in a laboratory setting. The wipes have been under development for almost two years with the specific aim of not only removing pathogens from surfaces but also ‘trapping’ them within the material so prevent them spreading and so help effective disposal. In addition, the solution is non-toxic so can be used on human skin, mucosal surfaces and wounds. The development of this technology was funded by the European Defence Agency and was conducted in collaboration with the Irish Defence Forces and the Czech University of Defence.  “What we have developed is like a living Velcro at nanoscale. All cells are coated with proteins and complex carbohydrates. Every cell-to-cell relationship is ruled by interactions between these carbohydrates and proteins. We are tapping into this interaction by infusing our wipes with specific proteins and carbohydrates to which the pathogens bind – and stick,” explains Professor Lokesh Joshi, co-founder and director of Aquila Bioscience, and Vice-President for Research and Innovation at NUI Galway. Nature has been experimenting for millions of years to find solutions against infectious diseases, explains Professor Joshi who is also Director of the Glycoscience Research Group at NUI Galway. “There is an ingenious manner by which nature protects us from infectious microbes and most biological toxins which have carbohydrates and proteins on their surfaces. In nature, humans and animals produce, milk, urine and saliva/mucus full of specific proteins and carbohydrates that bind to the pathogens to protect us from most of the pathogens we encounter on a daily basis.” Currently all of the available decontamination strategies include artificial chemicals for example bleach, calcium hypochlorite and hydrogen peroxide. These strategies destroy biological agents, but are toxic, harmful to human beings and not safe for use on human surfaces (i.e skin). In addition, the use of conventional decontamination solutions can lead to recurrent infection and can interfere with forensic evidence due to their destructive nature and cannot be used for routine use as prophylactic purpose. Aquila Bioscience technology can deliver safe and effective decontamination that can be routinely used on sensitive areas like skin, nose, eyes and mucosa, where other methods are either not safe or cause skin reactions. It is also totally non-toxic and composed of biodegradable materials in contrast to the damaging environmental impact of chemically based solutions and the major problems caused by non-recyclable wipes in the environment.  Aquila Bioscience continues to collaborate with the Irish Defence Forces, with their needs to be prepared against biothreat agents. This collaboration has also brought the technology to the attention of other national and international security and humanitarian agencies who have expressed strong interest in using the technology to protect first-responders and affected people. “Our true hope it that this may indeed be an effective, safe and environmentally safe method to protect people from the potentially deadly pathogens they might encounter,” concluded Professor Joshi. -ends-

Friday, 20 December 2019

Medtech accelerator helps 14 companies secure €9.7 million and create 52 jobs Life Sciences start-ups benefit from extensive new state-of-the-art lab space Entrepreneurial students flourish during 2019 Industry collaboration continues to thrive New companies, new start-up spaces, national awards and student successes have marked another very successful year for innovation at NUI Galway. The year saw NUI Galway sign over 50 project agreements with industry contributing across a wide range of sectors including IT, engineering and life sciences. The university is also a collaborator on three ground-breaking projects under the recently announced Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. In 2019, start-ups including AtriAN Medical, Loci Orthopaedics, BlueDrop Medical, Cortechs and An Mheitheal Rothar - among others - saw great successes. Among the highlights of the year was the completion of the second round of the BioExel MedTech Accelerator programme, based at NUI Galway. The two-year pilot supported 14 companies who secured €9.7 million in investment and funding and created 52 jobs. The year also saw the creation of specialised laboratory space to support life sciences start-ups in the region, with room for up to 100 employees.  In recognition of her leadership role with BioExel and broader contributions to the medtech ecosystem in Ireland, Fiona Neary, Innovation Operations Manager with NUI Galway’s Innovation Office, was awarded an Achiever of the Year Award as part of Knowledge Transfer Ireland’s Impact Awards. Student and Staff Innovation Entrepreneurial students across campus continued to excel in 2019, in particular those supported by NUI Galway LaunchPad, the innovation training hub on campus which has supported over 7,000 student entrepreneurs since 2016. Christopher McBrearty was announced as Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year and also featured with fellow students Emily Wallace and Aaron Hannon in the Sunday Independent Top 30 under 30 Entrepreneurs in Ireland. Former NUI Galway LaunchPad student entrepreneur in residence Edel Browne was named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list 2019. Over 20 new innovative project ideas from collaborative student and staff projects were supported by the NUI Galway EXPLORE Programme. The projects range in topics from coastal flooding, outreach science kits, developing alumni linkages to developing the next generation of rehabilitation device for stroke victims. In 2019 the Galway Green Lab project, a newly funded project with EXPLORE was the first Lab in Europe to secure Green Lab certification. David Murphy, Director of NUI Galway’s Innovation Office, commented: “Our office plays a crucial role in driving impact for the University, with a focus on the benefits to society and the economy. The team works closely with NUI Galway’s research community to take research breakthroughs and knowledge out into society; to support collaborations with industry; to mentor spin-outs and spin-ins on campus; and to deliver programmes that engage staff and students in entrepreneurial projects.” Supporting Start-Ups and Industry There has been plenty of successes for NUI Galway spin-outs and spin-ins in 2019. Highlights include: Medical device spin-out company, AtriAN Medical closed a €2.3 million investment to commercialise a new treatment for atrial fibrillation. Loci Orthopaedics was announced as lead partner in a €2.5 million consortium to advance its device for the treatment of arthritis of the thumb under the European Commission’s ‘Fast Track to Innovation’ fund. Bluedrop Medical, a BioExel participant, successfully raised €3.7 million in 2019 with a mix of investment and EU grant funding to enable further clinical emersion of their product that has the potential to prevent hundreds of thousands of amputations. Brian Shields, founder of Galway medical device NUI Galway spinout Neurent Medical, was named as Enterprise Ireland’s high potential start-up Founder of the Year. The company was also among the finalists for the 2019 Knowledge Transfer Impact Award for spinout company. Cortechs, another BioExcel participant, has created data-driven, therapeutic applications that use cognitive training, brainwaves and biofeedback data to improve Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The company has already received an EU grant of €1.3 million for the development of their products and is now open for seed investment of €2 million. An Mheitheal Rothar, a social-sustainable enterprise based at NUI Galway, was one of just three enterprises in Ireland to be awarded €5,000 by the Social Entrepreneurs Ireland in 2019. Irish technology start-up Joulica which is based on campus announced plans to create 45 new jobs over three years. For more information visit -Ends-

Monday, 18 November 2019

The ‘Inaugural Professors In Conversation Series’ featuring newly appointed Business Professors at NUI Galway will continue on Wednesday, 20 November at 4:30pm with Professor Jonathan Levie, recently appointed Professor of Entrepreneurship and Regional Development will give a talk on ‘Entrepreneurship and Regional Development’. Hosted by the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics and Whitaker Institute, the event is free and open to the public. Developing a balanced economy in Ireland requires the emergence of thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems throughout Ireland, not just in Dublin. Drawing on 35 years of working with a diverse range of national and regional entrepreneurial ecosystems across the world, Professor Levie will discuss how diverse regional stakeholders can cooperate to enhance entrepreneurship within their region, including third level education institutes, financial institutions, corporates, local government, accelerators, enterprise agencies, and above all, entrepreneurs and business angels. He will also contrast the role of national government with that of regional ecosystem stakeholders. The talk will also outline plans for a new Centre for Entrepreneurial Growth and Scaling at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics. Professor Levie will be in conversation with Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh, Entrepreneur and Independent Senator in Seanad Éireann. Professor Alan Ahearne, Director, Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, said: “Entrepreneurial firms are the engines of growth in any regional economy. They need to be at the heart of the regional development strategies for Galway and the wider West of Ireland region. Only by understanding the roles of various regional stakeholders and how they most effectively work together can we succeed in building an environment where entrepreneurial firms can prosper.” Speaking of the event, Professor Levie said “I am very much looking forward to a lively discussion with Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh. NUI Galway has much to be proud of from an entrepreneurship perspective, from working with enterprise educators in schools to winning the EI Student Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in two out of the past three years, to our world class programmes in medtech business creation. But I am convinced there is more we can do across the campus and across disciplines, and beyond the campus to work in new and innovative ways with stakeholders across the West of Ireland.”  The event will take place on Wednesday, 20 November from 4:30pm-5:30pm in Room CA110 in the Cairnes Building, North Campus, NUI Galway. To book the event, visit: and search for ‘Entrepreneurship and Regional Development’ or   -Ends-

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

The STARTED Project, coordinated by NUI Galway’s TechInnovate programme, will host a free workshop ‘Supporting Researchers to Create Innovation Driven Enterprises’ in the Maldron Hotel, Sandy Road, Galway from 9.30am-4.30pm on Thursday, 14November 2019. The event, in partnership with the West Regional Skills Forum, is an exciting opportunity to gain intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship skills tailored for those working on new product development, research or innovation within companies or startups. Participants will gain a detailed insight into bringing innovations from potential customer engagement through to successful commercialisation or technology transfer. They will also be the first in Europe to have free access to associated online tools, developed as part of the STARTED Project, to test the feasibility of their innovations. Online tools include: E-learning Platform “Validate Your Idea” is an interactive, free e-learning course designed to introduce researchers to entrepreneurship and guide them through the main steps on how to validate the business potential of their idea. Starting from the market discovery, the researchers will learn and apply fundamental concepts through a series of lessons that include both learning material and exercises. ResearchInno Database is the first database specifically designed for researchers who intend to evaluate the entrepreneurial potential of their invention/project/idea and helps them find potential partners, resources and competitors in their specific industry.           A roundtable on the day will explore the additional skills needs for research and development functions in industry to input into the development of funded and subsidised future training courses for the region. Denise Rocks, West Regional Skills Forum Manager based at NUI Galway, said: “This is an exciting chance for those working in Research and Development, or in a team for which innovation is essential, to gain an edge from the incredible team at TechInnovate and to learn the principles and practice of disciplined entrepreneurship to startup or spinoff their innovations.” John Breslin, Director of TechInnovate at NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to give this free workshop on Disciplined Entrepreneurship with the STARTED Project, sponsored by Erasmus+, and the Regional Skills Forum. The aim is to move from storytelling about entrepreneurship to practical skills development on how to go about being an entrepreneur or intrapreneur, and we will have an experienced team of five lecturers and researchers from TechInnovate at NUI Galway giving a varied set of useful sessions on the day.” The STARTED Project is an Erasmus+ Knowledge Alliance initiative funded by the European Commission. It aims to reinforce and structure a European network for promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in the Research and Development area while improving the flow of knowledge and win-win cooperation between Higher Education Institutes and businesses. For more information visit: The West Regional Skills Forum is an initiative of the Department of Education and Skills, serving Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. The Forum Manager acts as a single contact point in the region to help employers connect with the range of services and supports available across the education and training system. For more information visit To register to attend this free event visit, For more information about the event, contact Denise Rocks, West Regional Skills Forum Manager at -Ends-

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

BioExel held its Medtech Opportunity Investor showcase in the Meyrick Hotel on recently, featuring over 40 start-up companies based in Ireland. This aim of the showcase was to provide national and international investors the breath of exciting opportunities emerging from the Medtech start-up ecosystem, particularly in the west of Ireland. The event illustrated how start-ups in the region are innovation drivers, developing novel life-changing technologies in collaboration with healthcare professionals, academia, manufacturers, SMEs and multinationals. Examples of this can be shown in some of the successes from the Bioexel companies such as; 1)Hidramed Solutions - CEO Suzanne Moloney from Hidramed Solutions is developing HidraWear, the world’s first adhesive-free wound care solution for suffers of Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) which is a disease of the skin that affects at least 1 in 100 people.  Suzanne said: “Bioexel really enabled me put a structure in place for my medical concept and through constant support and mentoring I developed a commercial roadmap that has led to IP, product design, clinical trial, CE marking, and seed investment. The dedicated Accelerator is a great mechanism to engage with experienced mentors and become part of the environment that supports each other on the start-up journey” 2)Bluedrop Medical another Bioexel participant successfully raised €3.7m in 2019 with a mix of investment and EU grant funding to enable further clinical emersion of the product. The home based system performs a daily scan of the patient’s feet and sends the data to the cloud for analysis through advanced algorithms capable of detecting abnormalities. By detecting skin damage early, the technology could enable healthcare providers to prevent hundreds of thousands of amputations, improving lives and significantly reducing costs. 3)Cortechs has created data-driven, therapeutic applications that use cognitive training, brainwaves and biofeedback    data to improve Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This is based on neurofeedback which is scientifically proven to improve attention deficit behaviors. The company has already received an EU grant of €1.3m for development of their products and is now open for seed investment of €2m. BioExcel’s two-year pilot delivered great success with 14 companies securing investment and funding of €9.7m and creating 52 jobs. BioExel is managed by Medtech Director, Dr Sandra Ganly, also a co-founder of BioInnovate Ireland and Senior Research Fellow in NUI Galway, and Fiona Neary, Commercial Director and co-founder of BioExel, and Innovation Operations Manager at NUI Galway. The Western region has a strong Medtech ecosystem and this is actively supported by the expertise and infrastructure at NUI Galway. The strength of this ecosystem was very visible at the event as 25 NUI Galway start-up companies exhibited, presented and showcased to an audience of investors not only in person but streamed to investor’s locations around the world from San Francisco, Boston, New York, London and Geneva. The event encapsulated panel discussions, words from key opinion leaders and successes from early stage companies. The event was opened by Fiona Neary, before opening remarks from Professor Ciarán hÓgartaigh, President of NUI Galway, and Tomás Ó Síocháin, CEO of the Western Development Commission (WDC). Between pitches and presentations by companies present, insightful panel discussions took place. The first panel discussion, chaired by Dr Sandra Ganly, focused on the impact of grant supports on fundraising strategies for start-ups and how these grants are enabling the start-up community progress to market readiness. Sandra was joined by Tony O’Halloran, CTO and Co-Founder of Aurigen Medical, Dr. Brendan Boland, CEO and Co-founder of Loci Orthopaedics Ltd, and Dr Imelda Lambkin, Manager of Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund at Enterprise Ireland. The second panel discussion focused on the role and impact of domain specific accelerators on an ecosystem and how the success of Bioexel shows this model works. This panel was chaired by Gillian Buckley, General Partner for BioExel and Investment Manager for the WDC. She was joined by Donnchadh Cullinan, Manager of Banking Relations and Growth Capital at Enterprise Ireland, Eimear Gleeson, Investment Associate at Atlantic Bridge Ventures and David Murphy, Director of the Innovation Office at NUI Galway. According to Gillian Buckley, “Bioexel has filled a critical gap in the Western Region’s ecosystem and supports a new generation of MedTech companies. Bioexel builds on the reputation of the West of Ireland as an international centre of excellence in Medtech. Bioexel along with the WDC Investment Fund are unique resources to the region’s entrepreneurs to set up and grow indigenous Irish businesses from a regional location.” Jennifer Melia, Manager, High Potential Start-Ups, Enterprise Ireland, said: “Enterprise Ireland is committed to supporting early stage collaborative innovative opportunities between the enterprise sector and health system with the aim of internationalising medtech technologies. To date, 14 new and emerging enterprises have and continue to benefit from the BioExcel programme through direct collaboration with international technology and healthcare sector stakeholders. Enterprise Ireland has supported the programme which successfully delivered on its objective to accelerate the commercialisation process of new technologies, products and services in a regional location.” BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Western Development Commission, Galway University Foundation, Bank of Ireland seed and early stage equity fund, and hosted by NUI Galway. The University is home to Ireland’s only centre for stem cell manufacturing, extensive translational and clinical facilities, biomedical sciences research laboratories, and the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices. This is further strengthened by NUI Galway’s expertise in funding grants, knowledge transfer, and innovation programmes such as BioInnovate and BioExel. –ends-

Monday, 4 November 2019

Irish Technology start-up, Joulica, based at NUI Galway’s Innovation Centre has today (4 November 2019) announced that it is launching its revolutionary realtime Customer Experience analytics solution at the Websummit in Lisbon from 4-7 November. The solution is pre-integrated with the Amazon Connect contact center and CRM solutions, and uniquely provides realtime customer experience analytics across a broad array of contact center technologies and enterprise data sources. Joulica’s solution allows its global customers, that include Banks, Insurance providers and Mobile operators, to understand the experience their customers have when interacting with them over the phone, web, mobile, social media and video. By utilising predictive analytics across contact center platforms and other data sources, it is able to break out insights and actions by customer segment, location and demographic, and allows their customers to deliver improvements in realtime. The launch comes after Joulica announced significant jobs growth earlier in the year, reinforcing Galway’s position as the driving force of Ireland’s Information and Communication Technology industry. The development is supported by the Government through Enterprise Ireland’s Research, Development and Innovation Fund. Founded in 2016, Joulica has grown rapidly and enjoyed strong commercial success based on its expertise in the Customer Experience domain, realtime analytics and cloud-native software development. The launch coincides with Joulica establishing a presence in the US with a new office location in New York. Speaking at today’s announcement, Tony McCormack, CEO of Joulica, said: “Joulica has deep expertise in the Contact Center industry and we have combined this with world-class data analytics and cloud-native software skills to bring this unique solution to market. We are launching first on Amazon, given the innovation Amazon Connect and the entire Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform brings to the Contact Center domain. Amazon has given excellent support to Joulica, including access to their Technology partner program and AWS Activate. “From its inception, Joulica has been fortunate to work with global customers who are at the forefront of the digital transformation revolution. This opportunity combined with a deep understanding of the requirements that Enterprise customers place on high-scale, resilient software solutions gives Joulica a unique edge when it comes to accelerating innovation in large-scale Enterprises.” Joulica was the winner of the TechExcellence and ITAG Awards in 2019 and were highlighted as the exemplar technology start-up by the Irish Government in their 2019 regional development plan. The company will be exhibiting at the Websummit in Lisbon and can be found beside the Growth Lounge in the partners’ area. For more information about Joulica, visit: -Ends-

Monday, 4 November 2019

The ‘Inaugural Professors In Conversation Series’ featuring newly appointed Business Professors at NUI Galway will continue on Wednesday, 6 November with Esther Tippmann, Professor of Strategy, Leadership and Change. She will talk about developing multinational corporation subsidiaries in Ireland. The lunchtime event hosted by the J.E. Cairnes School of Business & Economics and Whitaker Institute is free and open to the public. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is critical to the success of the Irish economy. Professor Tippmann will discuss the challenges of and opportunities for developing subsidiaries of multinational corporations. She will draw on research-based insights into how managers in subsidiaries can deliver value beyond their mandate, develop innovative solutions within a complex organisational setting and develop their roles and mandates. The talk will provide insights for well-established subsidiaries and subsidiaries of young scaling firms. Professor Tippmann will be in conversation with Mark Gantly, President of the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland and Senior R&D Director at Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Professor Alan Ahearne, Director, Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway, said: “The subsidiaries of multinational corporations (MNCs) employ thousands of people in Galway and hundreds of thousands of people across Ireland. With the recent bad news of significant jobs losses at Novartis in Cork and Molex in Clare, we need to understand better how MNCs’ subsidiaries in Ireland evolve and how they compete within their own corporate structures and in the global marketplace.”  Professor Esther Tippmann, NUI Galway, said: “Given the importance of Foreign Direct Investment to the Irish economy, our research on subsidiary development offers many systematic insights for leaders of subsidiaries on how to grow and evolve activities and mandates. Together with colleagues here at NUI Galway, we are excited about future research opportunities in this area and strong engagement with subsidiaries in the region and beyond.” Mark Gantly, Senior R&D Director at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, said: “US multinationals have played an important role in the development of the Irish economy over the last 50 years, and it’s clear that the Irish subsidiaries have steadily increased their strategic contribution to those companies. It’s important that we are rigorous in our analysis of the reasons for this success, and I am delighted to support Professor Tippmann and the wider team at NUI Galway as they conduct their research.” The event will take place on Wednesday, 6 November from 1pm-2pm in Room CA110 in the J.E. Cairnes Building, North Campus, NUI Galway. To book the event, visit: -Ends-

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Seed investment will support the company through first-in-human trials of a device to treat Atrial Fibrillation with initial patients expected to be treated in about one year NUI Galway-based medical device spin-out company, AtriAN Medical has announced the closing of a €2.3 million seed round investment to commercialise a new treatment for Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). The technology was conceived at Mayo Clinic in the US, the company has further progressed the device in Ireland and is now ready to begin clinical trials. The seed investment was led by Western Development Commission and  include Mayo Clinic Ventures, Enterprise Ireland, Atlantic Bridge and Xenium Capital as well as private angel investors with a strong med-tech track record. The current seed investment will support the company through first-in-human trials of the device with initial patients expected to be treated in about one year at a specialist centre in Europe. The AtriAN Medical team is already engaged with specialists in the University of Amsterdam Medical Centre and Na Homolca Hospital in Prague. The irregular heart-beat of Atrial Fibrillation causes the patient to have palpitations, weakness, fatigue and dizziness. In addition, patients with AFib are five times more likely to have a stroke due to the formation of clots. It affects 2% of the population under the age of 65 and 9% of the population over the age of 65. The current treatment options for patients are limited, and are associated with significant complications. The first option is to take anti-arrhythmic drugs. However, the medication is effective in only approximately 30% of patients, and even for these patients, bring extensive side effects. The next option is to have a cardiac ablation. This ablative treatment uses either heating or freezing of tissue to create an intentional scar on the inside of the heart, this is known as pulmonary vein isolation (PVI). However, PVI has variable efficacy and many patients will require a repeat treatment within one to two years. The AtriAN Medical treatment selectively and non-thermally (without burning, or freezing) treats five specific locations on the outside surface of the heart where the Atrial Fibrillation initiates. The device delivers very short and precise electrical signals that ‘knock-out’ hyperactive neuronal cells at these locations. This reduces the overall ‘sensitivity’ of the heart to AFib, providing a very long-term, and durable treatment as these hyperactive cells will not regenerate. The technology originated at Mayo Clinic. Following initial discussions between Mayo clinicians with NUI Galway’s Professor Mark Bruzzi and Barry O’Brien around co-development opportunities, a formal collaboration was entered into and the teams at NUI Galway and Mayo Clinic set about progressing the development of the technology. This collaboration came about as a result of an over-arching agreement between Enterprise Ireland and Mayo Clinic to enable collaboration to take place between Mayo Clinic and Irish third level institutions. The collaborative development project that followed was funded by Enterprise Ireland through the Commercialisation Fund programme and by Mayo Clinic. The Commercialisation Fund programme is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under Ireland’s European Union Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-2020. This early funding allowed the group to complete pre-clinical studies and also enabled the team to recruit Ken Coffey in a commercial role for further development along with the subsequent addition of John Reilly, a previous Bio Innovate Ireland fellow to lead the device development. Mr Ken Coffey, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of AtriAN Medical, said: “We would like to thank our investors for their tremendous support of AtriAN. Securing this seed round funding will allow us to progress towards clinical trials to find long-term resolution of this prevalent and debilitating disease. There is currently no suitable treatment and we believe our technology will offer patients a powerful and safe treatment that should last for years.” Mr Barry O’Brien, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of AtriAN Medical, said: “Our technology targets the source of the problem bringing together technical developments relating to pulsed electric fields and recent scientific findings in the field of cardiac electrophysiology. Several years of excellent research at Mayo Clinic and NUI Galway gives us the confidence to bring this forward for patient trials.” Alan Hobbs, Manager, High Potential Start Ups (Lifesciences and Industrial) at Enterprise Ireland, commented: “AtriAN Medical is a great example of the world-class medical device High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) cluster in the west of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland is delighted to support them in this seed round. We have been there since the start and it’s great to see the progress made since we supported the original commercialisation funding. We wish Ken, Barry and all the team every success with the trials phase and look forward to continuing to work with them to achieve their global ambition.” Ms Kelly Krajnik, Director Strategic Operations, Mayo Clinic Ventures, said: “Mayo Clinic has been active and at the forefront of this research field for some time. We are now delighted to make this investment in AtriAN Medical, to directly support the first clinical trial of this exciting new technology.” Samuel Asirvatham M.D. Cardiac Electrophysiologist at Mayo Clinic commented “The need for improved approaches to treatment of AFib is immense and we are very pleased to be supporting the AtriAN team as they now bring forward this novel technology to patient trials. After several years of pre-clinical research and device development it is exciting to finally see this being evaluated in a clinical trial.” Dr Jacinta Thornton, Associate Director of the Innovation Office in NUI Galway, said: “Having supported the development and management of the technology over the last number of years in NUI Galway, we congratulate Ken and Barry on securing this investment and we commend them on reaching this important milestone.” For more information about AtriAN Medical, visit: -Ends-

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

NUI Galway student innovation hub LaunchPad has launched its programme of events for the year. The programme has gone from strength to strength on the NUI Galway campus with a community of over 7,000 student entrepreneurs trained since 2015.   Supported by a team of ten interns a key differentiator for the innovation hub is its approach to peer to peer engagement. Executive Director Natalie Walsh said: “Each year we hire a team of interns from across our campuses so that students can learn and develop from each other, in this year’s team we have current Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year Chris McBrearty, who has worked with us for over a year and comes from a scientific background; Aaron Hannon, a recent Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund recipient and winner of the NDRC Ireland Fund Business Plan competition, who is a second year engineering student; Sarah Murphy a medical student who was a IBYE finalist in Sligo for her project Gridmathic a mathematic literacy aid; Charlotte Lucas, a final year Biomedical Science student who has with Cell Explorers helped to develop a science kit for use in the classroom called ‘Fantastic DNA’; and Heidi Schoenenberger, a PhD student working on developing a business to bring drama productions to primary schools.” A key emphasis of the programme is contributing toward the culture of entrepreneurship on campus and within the region.  Students participating in the programme gain transversal skills and in addition to now considering entrepreneurship as part of their career plan, in addition to being highly employable and filling roles on many sought after programmes both nationally and internationally. The innovation calendar features events, programmes and competitions open to students in Galway. Programmes in this year’s calendar include an EIT Health funded connected health programme, a start-up student week taking place in November and Student Ascent, a midway demo day of student innovation on campus.  The hub has also expanded the reach of some of its programmes by opening them up to third level students in the region.  Natalie Walsh continues: “We have had a huge response to our second level students programmes the Ideas Academy which was open to all second level students in the region, a natural next step for our hub is to engage more with the region and work collaboratively to contribute towards a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem with students at the heart if it, particularly as we see our student perform so well at national entrepreneurship award programmes. We also see our students developing a core extracurricular skillset that makes them very attractive to employers in the region with many of our Interns holding important innovation roles in their respective industries. “Our approach is to have an open door policy. We encourage entrepreneurs and potential mentors to get in touch with us and see how we can work together to train the next generation of entrepreneurs for our region.” -Ends-

Friday, 20 September 2019

Connecting Innovation and Healthcare in the West of Ireland  Minister of Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD and Minister of State with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly TD, officially opened the third national Health Innovation Hub Ireland (HIHI) on Monday, 16 September at NUI Galway’s Lambe Institute for Translational Research based at Galway University Hospital. Both the President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh and CEO of Saolta University Healthcare Group, Tony Canavan, welcomed the arrival of the HIHI in the West. First launched by Minister for Health Simon Harris TD at its headquarters at University College Cork in 2016, Health Innovation Hub Ireland is assisting in the establishment of Ireland as a leading location for start-ups and expanding healthcare companies. HIHI allows easy interaction with hospitals and primary care centres. Collaboration between the health service and enterprise is leading to the development of new Irish healthcare technologies, products, and services.  The continued growth of the Health Innovation Hub Ireland and expansion into the west, marks a continued pattern of growth for the HIHI nationally. This expansion follows the October 2018 launch of the second office based at Trinity College Dublin on the St. James Hospital Campus. Nationally, Health Innovation Hub Ireland plays a unique role within the Irish healthcare ecosystem working at both ends of the innovation pathway - at the very earliest stage from ideation through to concept development and at the later stage of proof of concept in a clinical environment. In Galway, HIHI works closely with other Enterprise Ireland programmes including BioInnovate Ireland and BioExel at NUI Galway and leverages the medtech expertise within the University including the Translational Medical Device Lab, led by Professor Martin O’Halloran, CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices and the HRB Clinical Research Facility at NUI Galway, led by the HIHI PrincipaI Investigator, Professor Martin O’Donnell. HIHI Galway is at the cutting edge of excellence in healthcare, clinical and engineering research with easy access to experts and the next generation of innovators. Companies based in the West such as Ostoform and Feeltect are just a few of the companies benefiting from the HIHI’s unique ecosystem. HIHI - a national central hub to the health and innovation ecosystem  HIHI was established by Department of Business, Enterprise, Innovation, and the Department of Health, supported by Enterprise Ireland (EI) and the Health Service Executive (HSE). As a unique joint government initiative, HIHI offers companies the opportunity for pilot and clinical validation studies and provides the health service with access to innovative products, services, devices. HIHI works to impact Irish business and Irish healthcare in three key areas.  1. Industry: HIHI matches companies with relevant clinical teams, overseeing a study of each product in an Irish clinical setting.   2. Healthcare: HIHI is an open door to all healthcare staff to assess ideas to solutions they have encountered in their work. HIHI acts as mentors and advises on taking an idea and developing it into a service or product.   3. Education: Delivering a series of five HIHI workshops and a diploma in healthcare innovation, HIHI is embedding an innovation culture in Irish healthcare.  To date, HIHI has engaged with more than 256 companies and 160 healthcare employees to discuss their innovative ideas. HIHI issues an annual call but also welcomes direct engagement through any of its offices in Cork, Dublin and now Galway. Minister for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen, TD, commented: “As Minister for State in the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, I very much welcome the launch of the third national Health Innovation Hub Ireland here in NUI Galway. HIHI is a wonderful means of facilitating collaboration between all the various players involved in the health, enterprise and research sectors for the ultimate benefit of Ireland’s citizens. Galway, in particular, is a city that has both a thriving academic centre and a rapidly expanding MedTech sector.  I wish HIHI well in its endeavours and look forward to seeing the benefits of its work in the future.” Professor Martin O’Donnell, Professor of Translational Medicine at NUI Galway and HIHI Principal Investigator, Galway, said: “Based at NUI Galway we have multi-disciplinary award-winning teams in healthcare, clinical and engineering research at the Lambe Institute for Translational Research. Health Innovation Hub Ireland combines expertise from NUI Galway and the HSE to deliver projects in healthcare and industry. With a strategic location, embedded in the heart of the hospital, research and teaching, the Hub is a welcome resource to clinicians, researchers and companies.” Minister of State with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly TD,commented: “I am delighted to see the expansion of Health Innovation Hub Ireland here in Galway, building on the Hubs in Dublin and Cork. This ground-breaking initiative between the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation and the Department of Health is supporting companies access healthcare experts and bringing new technologies to market as well as improving patient outcomes. Enterprise Ireland is supporting a vision of innovation in healthcare and supporting companies and innovators in healthcare to reach their potential.” CEO of Saolta University Healthcare Group, Tony Canavan, commented: “The HIHI facilitates a unique partnership between the health service and the enterprise sector to enable healthcare research and innovation will over time improve outcomes for patients. Critically, it gives staff working on the front line of the health service an opportunity to bring their ideas and proposals to the Hub that will ultimately improve outcomes for our patients. We are delighted that the Saolta Group and in particular University Hospital Galway is part of this initiative and I would encourage staff to share their knowledge and make proposals.” Speaking about the growth of the Health Innovation Hub Ireland: HIHI Principal Investigator, Professor John Higgins, said: “The opening of the Health Innovation Hub in Galway is another key step in making HIHI a truly national organisation following the extension from Cork to Dublin and now Galway. It is a prelude to the HIHI extending to the rest of Ireland. Throughout the healthcare system, if you have an idea or burning desire to bring about change, a solution or a wish to bring innovation in, the HIHI opens that door. The national presence of the HIHI is a testimony to industry and healthcare working together.” -Ends-

Monday, 19 August 2019

Funding to advance development of Tight Alright device to treat venous leg ulcers, the first device capable of continuously monitoring compression therapy outside the clinical setting FeelTect, a connected-health, wound care start-up company established from the NUI Galway laboratory of CÚRAM investigator, Professor Garry Duffy, has been presented with an *EIT Health Headstart award worth €50,000 to advance the development of their ‘Tight Alright’ pressure sensing device to treat venous leg ulcers. The competition finals saw 22 finalist teams of medtech start-ups from across the UK and Ireland pitching their technologies to a panel of investors, healthcare professionals, and medtech experts. FeelTect’s technology, Tight Alright, is a wireless, pressure sensing device for measuring and monitoring sub-bandage pressure during compression therapy, primarily for the millions of people worldwide with venous leg ulcers (VLUs). Venous leg ulcers are chronic wounds that stem from venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency is a medical condition affecting the circulation of blood to the lower limbs. The tiny valves that normally force blood back up towards the heart no longer function, causing blood to pool up in the legs, and the veins of the legs become distended, resulting in an accumulation of fluid in the lower limbs. Venous leg ulcers are associated with a variety of risk factors including age, increased body mass index (BMI), low physical activity, high blood pressure, venous insufficiency, deep vein thrombosis, and family history. Compression therapy is the gold-standard treatment for venous leg ulcers helping to overcome venous insufficiency and restoring blood flow, however it is ineffective if applied too loosely, and dangerous if applied too tightly. Yet studies have shown that even experienced wound care clinicians can find it difficult to achieve a targeted pressure with existing compression products.   Despite major advances in certain wound care areas, such as regenerative medicine, moisture balance, infection management, and tissue oxygenation, the basic tools for compression therapy have been largely untouched by significant (“disruptive”) innovation in recent decades. FeelTect aims to change this through the digital capabilities of Tight Alright, which will enable improvements in the application and maintenance of evidence-based compression therapy, ensuring safety while reducing healing times. In fact, due to global wound care industry trends, such as the expiry of patents, entry of low-cost competitors, and a lack of advanced wound care specialisation amongst clinicians, many leaders in the segment have turned their focus to digital, outcomes-based, and value-based innovations that complement their existing product portfolios. FeelTect is fully aligned with these needs, resulting in very strong interest from potential strategic partners. FeelTect founder and CEO, Dr Andrew Cameron, highlighted the impact the award will have on the company’s progression towards market entry: “The funding provided by EIT Health will allow us to progress the miniaturisation of Tight Alright to a truly wearable product, making it the first device capable of continuously monitoring compression therapy outside the clinical setting. We’ll also be able to further our initial clinical validation, which was supported by Health Innovation Hub Ireland, demonstrating the ability of Tight Alright to improve the achievement of targeted, evidence-based pressure during compression application. “We have planned our first clinical study involving VLU patients with our clinical collaborator, Professor Mary-Paula Colgan in St James’s Hospital. After having experienced wound care nurses from Galway University Hospitals, and Dr Georgina Gethin from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway validating the functionality of the Tight Alright prototype, with substantial improvements in the achievement of targeted bandage pressure on healthy volunteers, the FeelTect team is excited to see these results translated to benefit patients.” Inventor, Co-founder and CÚRAM investigator, Professor Garry Duffy, NUI Galway, stated: “It’s very exciting to see the first commercial product from our labs at NUI Galway move closer to the clinic. NUI Galway has the perfect ecosystem to support translational medical devices including the BioInnovate Ireland programme, where this unmet clinical need was identified, and the critical mass of expertise provided through the CÚRAM investigator network which is supporting the development of the product. Through Enterprise Ireland’s initial support and now with EIT Health Headstart funding we plan to continue the clinical validation of the Tight Alright technology and move it close to positive outcomes for patients with venous leg ulcers.” FeelTect began its journey in the renowned BioInnovate Ireland programme based at NUI Galway, where the underlying clinical need was identified by 2017 BioInnovate Fellow Dr Andrew Cameron, in collaboration with CÚRAM investigator, Dr Georgina Gethin, as well as an Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund project within the Duffy Lab in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, where the proof-of-concept research and development was conducted. The team is currently in discussions with potential partners and has launched a seed round for fundraising to support the progression of Tight Alright into clinical practice. For more information about FeelTect, based at NUI Galway, visit: For more about CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, visit: -Ends-

Monday, 12 August 2019

Loci Orthopaedics awarded €2.5 million grant, has US patent granted, and enters into new technology licence agreement Loci Orthopaedics, based in the Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, is lead partner in a consortium awarded in excess of €2.5 million to advance one of the company’s products to market, the “InDx Implant” under the European Commission’s ‘Fast Track to Innovation’ fund. The InDx Implant product has been designed for the treatment of arthritis of the thumb base joint. This condition affects over 30 million people across the EU, and results in significant hand pain, and restrictions in mobility and independence. In the next three years, the company will focus on launching the InDx Implant in hospitals throughout Europe and the USA. Loci Orthopaedics was founded as a spin-out from NUI Galway in 2017 by Dr Brendan Boland and Mr Gerry Clarke and is dedicated to improving the lives of patients suffering from arthritis through the development of novel, but evidence-based orthopaedic technologies. In 2018 the company closed an investment round of €2.75 million. The additional Fast Track to Innovation funding will bring the total funding raised for the InDx Implant product to almost €6 million, reflecting the major unmet clinical need that is being addressed. Speaking about this recent grant, CEO of Loci Orthopaedics, Dr Brendan Boland, said: “The orthopaedics market is one of the fastest growing segments in medical devices, and the area we are working in is the fastest growing sub-section in orthopaedics. Being the lead partner on such a prestigious European Commission sponsored grant is a great endorsement for the company of the unmet clinical need, the growing market, and the innovativeness of our own technology.” Mr Gerry Clarke, Chief Technology Officer at Loci Orthopaedics, said: “The InDx implant is the only thumb implant that is an evidence-based design. We have been working with three of the world’s leading hand surgeons from Stanford University, Brown University, and KU Leuven Belgium, to develop the first implant that can fully mimic the natural motions of the thumb base joint. This grant further supports the core technology of the product, as well as allowing us to accelerate the product to market to relieve the daily suffering of many millions of patients across the world.” The Fast Track to Innovation consortium includes EndoLab (Germany), NAMSA (UK) and Medvie (Ireland), and was one of only 15 consortiums from across the EU to receive such a prestigious funding award. Recently, the patent for the InDx Implant was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office entitled “Implant for a Bone Joint” and is the first patent to issue from Loci Orthopaedics growing intellectual property portfolio. The company has further patents pending as well as several international patent applications across the field of Orthopaedic Medicine. In addition to this portfolio, the company has entered into an agreement with NUI Galway, for a world-wide exclusive licence to the NUI Galway–developed “OsteoAnchor” technology. The OsteoAnchor technology is an additively manufactured surface finish for use in orthopaedic implants, which enables an implant to gain immediate fixation, via sharp claws, and long-term fixation, as the native bone grows around pillars and struts. This technology has been proven to provide enhanced fixation and osteointegration (bone growth around the implant), compared to other surface finish methods such as, plasma-spray coating. This is particularly useful in patients who require orthopaedic implants but have poor quality bone, for example, due to osteoporosis.  It is estimated that the combined market potential for these two products (InDx Implant and OsteoAnchor) alone is over $1.5 billion per annum.  Dr Boland commented: “Having the US patent granted for the core InDx Implant technology, as well as rapidly expanding the company’s Intellectual Property (IP) portfolio, is a very exciting time. We are developing a pipeline and platform of technologies to meet unmet clinical needs in the fastest growing market in orthopaedic medicine.”  For more information about Loci Orthopaedics, visit: or follow the company on Twitter @lociortho -Ends-

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Gig workers in the UK are twice as likely as the wider population to be in the early stages of setting up a business, largest global study of entrepreneurs finds Sharp fall in entrepreneurship among BAME Britons and immigrants Rise of crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending sees people increasingly willing to invest in “strangers with good ideas” Workers in the gig economy are increasingly seeing their “side hustle” as a launchpad into longer-term entrepreneurship, according to the largest annual survey of UK entrepreneurs. Although often portrayed as a precarious option to supplement low pay, latest data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), has found gig workers are twice as likely as the wider population to be planning to start a business or to be early-stage entrepreneurs. But more worryingly, the study also suggests that previously-higher entrepreneurship rates among black and minority-ethnic (BAME) British people and BAME immigrants to the UK have nosedived since 2017, reducing to levels similar to non-minority and non-immigrant residents. The researchers behind the UK edition of the global report, sponsored by NatWest, believe the findings show the changing shape of the UK economy may be benefiting some groups more than others, with Brexit fears weighing disproportionately on minorities and migrants. The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor tracks rates of entrepreneurship in 49 economies, making it the world’s most authoritative comparative study of entrepreneurial activity. Researchers from NUI Galway, Aston University in Birmingham, Queen’s University Belfast and Strathclyde Business School analysed responses from more than 9,000 people. The GEM report’s key measure of Total early-stage Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) tracks the proportion of people who are ‘nascent entrepreneurs’ at the early stages of setting up a business, as well as new business owners who have been running their firm for between three months and three-and-a-half years. Using the most up-to-date data collected in 2018, the researchers found that the TEA rate of 7.9% in the UK compares favourably to France (6.1%) and Germany (5.0%) but is lower than that of the US (15.6%). This year’s survey is the first to look in detail at entrepreneurship among gig economy workers. It found that 19.2% of people doing gig work for firms like Uber and Deliveroo were intending to start a business within three years, compared to 8.5% of the general population, while almost 9% considered themselves ‘nascent entrepreneurs’, compared to 4% of all people. A further 25% of gig workers describe themselves as new or established business owners, suggesting their ‘side hustle’ is part of a wider embrace of entrepreneurship. The study also found differences in entrepreneurial activity according to gender, ethnicity, migration status and socio-economic group. Around one in ten men were at some stage on the entrepreneurship journey, compared to one in 20 women. And in a reversal of the long-running trend for ethnic minorities and immigrants to display higher entrepreneurship rates, the TEA rate for BAME British people fell by more than half in a single year, from 14.5% to 6.9%. For immigrants to the UK of all ethnicities there was a similar collapse, with their TEA rate falling from 12.5% in 2017 to 7.2% in 2018, but this drop was particularly pronounced among non-white immigrant groups, whose TEA rate fell from 17.5% to 4.9%. By contrast, UK-born people of any ethnicity who had lived abroad were the most likely of any group to be early-stage entrepreneurs, at 12.2%. Regional and socio-economic differences were also observed, with the highest rates of entrepreneurship found amongst the most deprived fifth of areas in England (12.6%), with lower rates in the other UK nations. The GEM report also suggests that attitudes among entrepreneurs towards external finance are changing. Over half (53%) of entrepreneurs intend to fund their venture themselves, with 15% looking to banks for support and 6% to crowdfunding sites. Meanwhile, while only 2.8% of the population invested in someone else’s business in 2018, mainly close friends and family, 23% of these informal lenders gave their money to a “stranger with a good idea” through peer-to-peer lending, up from 16% the previous year. Jonathan Levie, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Regional Development, J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics, NUI Galway, said: “What’s troubling is the big drop in entrepreneurship we’ve seen among BAME communities and immigrants to the UK. In the past, these groups have set the pace of enterprise among our population, so we have to question what factors could have caused such a pronounced collapse in such a short space of time. Starting a business is an act of faith in the future. This finding suggests that BAME immigrants see their future in the UK as more uncertain now than before. If this is the start of a new trend rather than a blip in the data, then we should be investigating the reasons for it urgently.” Mark Hart, Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, said:“Interestingly, the gig economy seems to be an attractive way of working for those intending to start a business or who are in the early stages. Given the flexibility inherent with this type of work it would seem ideal for those individuals who wish to spend time getting their business off the ground and earn a wage at the same time. The latter point is particularly important for those early-stage entrepreneurs who may not yet have a steady monthly income arising from their business venture.” Commenting on the launch of the GEM Report, Paul Thwaite NatWest MD, Head of Sales, Specialist Businesses & Business Banking said: “NatWest is delighted to sponsor this report, the most authoritative research into entrepreneurial activity and trends in the United Kingdom. This year’s report highlights that the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit is still strong, with 20% of working age individuals engaged in some type of entrepreneurial activity or intending to start a business within the next three years. However, it also highlights some areas where more attention is required, and this insight helps us ensure that our Entrepreneur Accelerator programme is tailored to reflect the needs of entrepreneurs at every stage, whether they are an early stage start-up, established SME, or a high growth business looking to scale. As the UK’s biggest bank for business, we understand that SMEs are the lifeblood of the economy and are committed to supporting entrepreneurs achieve their ambitions.” To read the full Global Entrepreneurship Monitor study, visit: -Ends-

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Qpercom Observe assesses clinical skills of Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing students through a consecutive series of scenarios performing critical clinical tasks : NUI Galway spin out, Qpercom has been awarded a national tender in Norway to deliver their advanced assessment solution, Qpercom Observe, used in healthcare education to assess the clinical skills of students. The tender represents all higher education institutions in Norway including the four major universities; University of Oslo, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, University of Tromsø (The Arctic University of Norway) and the University of Bergen. Established in Galway in 2008, Qpercom supplies advanced assessment solutions to universities worldwide, including the University of Dundee, Karolinska Institute and the National University of Singapore. The successful outcome of the Norwegian tender comes just after Qpercom’s recent win at the prestigious e-Assessment Awards for Best Use of Summative Assessment for Observe. Dr Thomas Kropmans, co-founder and CEO of Qpercom, said: “There is no room for error when it comes to making decisions on life and death during high-stake exams and ultimately in clinical practice in Medicine and Health Sciences in Norway or elsewhere in the world. Winning the Norwegian tender just after winning the e-Assessment award re-confirms the value of Observe as an assessment solution globally.” Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (OSCEs) are used worldwide to assess clinical skills in Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and other health sciences. Students go through a consecutive series of scenarios performing critical clinical tasks, being observed and marked by an assessor. Compared to training and assessment in Aviation, Medicine and associated sciences have a lot to learn where pass marks vary between 50 to 85%. “ Dr Kropmans states: “I don’t think a pilot would get away with a positive result if only 50% of their flight scenarios were completed successfully. We come across situations where junior doctors walk away with a pass mark of 50%. Standards in Norway are very high and we expect our software and analysis solution will assist in taking the remaining error out of the procedures used.” The Norwegian tender required a service to automate the administration of practical examinations, a flexible digital process support for exam activities and results, and an integrated, user-friendly and scalable service for all exam user groups. According to Senior Adviser, Per O Bruvold from University of Bergen, Norway: “The main difference between Qpercom and the other tenderers is Qpercom already have the best service with rich functionality. Qpercom have a nice user-friendly administrative tool for setting up practical exams. Therefore, they fulfilled our first two goals better than the others. Qpercom also have an advantage in terms of the ability to monitor the marking process in real time, allowing a streamlined interaction between markers and administrators, as a simultaneous marking process with dozens of markers required.” For more information about Qpercom, visit: or follow on Twitter @qpercom.  -Ends-

Friday, 19 July 2019

Report on technology transfer offers 12 business models to help research centres commercialise their discoveries A new report led by the IESE Business School in Spain in collaboration with NUI Galway and other European Partners, sets out to address a major issue faced by leaders of research centres around the world: how to achieve economic sustainability while preserving academic quality. The report is based on an in depth analysis of 3,881 research centres in 107 countries, and it offers an informative guide for how research leaders can best commercialise their discoveries. While research centres are crucial for developing new technologies and scientific discoveries, every year many are shutdown. The authors say these closures often stem from a failure to turn research ideas into economic value, rendering the innovation research unsustainable or broken.  To counteract this, the 40-page report tracks three phases of a research centre’s work: (1) research (discovery), (2) transformation (invention) and (3) commercialisation (innovation). It then presents a quick overview of six gaps to watch out for, 18 mechanisms to address them and 12 business models (with successful examples) that are working at research centres within universities, industry and government. The report was created in collaboration with the STARTED Project which is coordinated by NUI Galway and aims to reinforce and structure a European network for promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in the Research and Development (R&D) area while improving the flow of knowledge and win-win cooperation between Higher Education Institutions and businesses. From NUI Galway, Professor John Breslin is the STARTED project coordinator and Mr Gabriel Mullarkey is the project lead with support from Dr Paul Flynn. All three are part of TechInnovate at NUI Galway, a forum which combines resources to catalyse and lead technology innovation. Professor John Breslin, NUI Galway, said: “Leveraging innovations should be a priority for all HEIs and R&D-active companies, however the lack of entrepreneurial skills within these organisations results in lost commercialisation potential. “Fundamentally, the STARTED Project, funded by Erasmus+, will empower researchers to transfer innovative research projects through to becoming robust startup opportunities through our new project-based entrepreneurship training approaches.” Mr Gabriel Mullarkey, NUI Galway, said: “The STARTED Project consortium is made up of a diverse group of experienced partners consisting of HEI institutes, SMEs and a European entrepreneurship network. This diversity ensures we take a real-world approach in building the entrepreneurial supports for researchers; uncovering their unmet needs in the commercialisation of their innovations and providing them with new tools and resources to start up.” The STARTED Project will ultimately lead to the setting up of a European Research to Startup Centre (ERSC) allowing for a paradigm shift in entrepreneurship teaching and learning approaches. The report was led by Josemaria Siota and Antonio Dávila of IESE Business School, in collaboration with STARTED Project partners NUI Galway, Roma Tre University, European Young Innovators Forum, VentureHub and Translated with contribution from Opinno’s Xavier Contijoch, the European Commission. For expressions of interest from researchers and research centres interested in learning entrepreneurial skills from the STARTED Project, please email To read the full report ‘Technology Transfer: Commercialising Discoveries at Research Centres Through Linked Innovation’ visit: or -Ends-

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway has announced a formal collaboration with Rutgers University, New Jersey regarding complementary medical device programs. The formal Agreement will focus on developing multi-disciplinary collaborations involving research on medical device technologies, commercialisation of medical technologies, and business incubation and acceleration. As global leaders in the field of medical device research, and because of its close collaboration with MedTech industry leaders, CÚRAM's expertise was sought by a delegation from Choose New Jersey, an economic development organisation with a mission to encourage and nurture economic growth throughout New Jersey. The organisation is developing an innovation HUB in New Brunswick which will have two million square feet of office, laboratory and incubator space. Together with Rutgers University, the delegation travelled to NUI Galway to learn from the experience and knowledge of CÚRAM with a view to creating a similar program at the HUB, potentially in partnership with CÚRAM. The signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Rutgers and CÚRAM took place with Scientific Director of CÚRAM, Professor Abhay Pandit, Dr James Walsh and Vincent Smeraglia from Rutgers University, and representatives from Rowan University, Hackensack Meridian Healthcare, DEVCO, the HUB in New Brunswick and BioInnovate Ireland. Speaking at the signing, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM, said: “This event is a testimony to CÚRAM's position as a global leader in the field of medical device research and we welcome the opportunity to share our expertise with our colleagues in New Jersey. We look forward to working with them further as they develop the HUB.” Dr James Walsh, Senior Director for Innovation, Rutgers University, said: “On behalf of Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy and Provost Prabhas Moghe, we are very excited to launch this alliance with our friends and colleagues in Galway. We believe that together, we can build on the strong links between New Jersey and Ireland’s highly innovative indigenous and multinational MedTech companies. Rutgers’ extensive research capabilities, faculty expertise, and business incubation leadership offer the alliance a strong foundation. We look forward to building on this with our colleagues at NUI Galway and Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.” For more information about Rutgers University, visit: and for Choose New Jersey, visit: -Ends-

Monday, 15 July 2019

Creating medical solutions to help feed patients, preserving our rich history, gamifying navigating University campuses and improving the quality of lives of children with sensory processing disorders are among the 2019 Student Explore Innovation Awardswinning concepts NUI Galway LaunchPad recently hosted their Annual Explore Awards celebrating student innovation across the campus, with projects with significant potential to become business or social enterprises awarded €10,000 in start-up funding.  The annual ‘Explore Innovation Awards’ uncovered some of the most promising and innovative activity on campus. Winning ideas included: creating medical solutions to help feed patients, preserving our rich history, gamifying navigating university campuses and improving the quality of lives of children with sensory processing disorders are among winning concepts. The awards ceremony took place at NUI Galway’s inaugural Student Innovation Summit, a day-long event celebration all aspects of student enterprise and innovation on campus.  Campus awardees and projects: The College of Arts, Social Sciences and Celtic Studies awardee was Liam Alex Heffron. Liam Alex’s project ‘Anseo’, a phrase used by pupils to indicate their attendance at school, seeks to preserve the national school roll-books and registers. In 1922 due to a massive explosion at the Public Services Offices most records were lost. Using innovative techniques including crowdsourcing photography, ‘Anseo’ digitally created and saved all national school records in North Mayo and Sligo. To date over 484,000 images have been processed, making it the largest such voluntary project in Ireland. The College of Business Public Policy and Law awardees were ‘The Quiet Beanie’ team of Alexander Selby, Eric Callanan, Aislinn Connaughton and Sarah O’Donnell. The project aims to improve the quality of lives of children with sensory processing disorders and their parents. ‘The Quiet Beanie’ is a modified beanie made from 90% organic cotton, and the organic cotton addresses the tactile sensory issues. A sound reducing foam is then incorporated into the design of the hat which helps to tackle sensory noise issues. The Quiet Beanie also provides a secure sense of pressure, a feature that children with sensory processing disorders require. As a social enterprise, the project believes in inclusion and acceptance and hope to promote these values throughout Ireland and afar. The College of Engineering and Informatics awardee was Mark Harrington who developed a mobile and web app which utilizes gamification to pinpoint locations and services on campus. It offers a dynamic map of the NUI Galway campus that allows users to search out locations and navigate to them using any GPS enabled smartphone. The app’s second feature is the Campus Challenge, a system of quests and a leader board which uses gamification to encourage exploration by new students. The app is now fully developed and ready to implement as a permanent fixture on campus. Additionally, the app lends itself to adaptation suitable to other universities or organisations and has further potential on boarding applications. The College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences Explore Award winners were Eoghan Dunne and Nuno Silva, their novel device is a smart tube intubation solution. Nasogastric tubes are commonly used in hospitals to feed patients who have difficulty swallowing. However, serious medical problems can result if the tube is incorrectly placed. The current methods to determine the location of the tube after insertion include a pH test and a chest X-ray. However, both tests have limitations including detection/interpretation errors as well as resource and time demands. The team is building a solution to detect a nasogastric tube in a simple and an efficient way. The smart tube solution has the potential to allow the patient to be fed faster without the need to wait several hours for additional tests. The College of Science awardees were the ‘RewardEd’ team of Albert Dolan, Robert Walsh and Sean Kilmartin, who aim to promote small businesses and empower students. The technology helps student reduce distractions by providing them with a reward system for not using their phones for pre-set periods. The RewardEd team has partnered with small businesses to develop the reward scheme providing students with unique discounts and rewards. Speaking at the event Natalie Walsh, Executive Director of NUI Galway Launchpad said: “The diversity and creativity that we have across our campus is inspiring. These awards give students the opportunity to flourish, to develop their innovative ideas in a supportive, enabling and results driven environment. In partnership with our Innovation office we have invested €10,000 in supporting these early stage ideas to develop and grow over the remainder of 2019. In addition to funding, each team will receive mentorship from LaunchPad and our broader community of innovators and alumni.” NUI Galway has been actively fostering new ideas and has supported over 120 collaborative staff and student projects since 2012 through the EXPLORE programme. EXPLORE is part of a wider innovation ecosystem at NUI Galway, explains David Murphy, Director of Innovation at NUI Galway: “Programs such as EXPLORE contribute toward a culture of Innovation on campus, it is pervasive from student to start-up company. Many of the outputs of our extensive research portfolio are licensed to industry or leads to a new spin-out company. Our Business Innovation Centre and the wider campus is currently home to over 40 companies, where we provide business supports and excellent facilities including labs and co-working spaces to start-ups. This all feeds into and connects with the wider region, supporting innovation and enterprises both locally and globally.” For more information about Explore, visit: -Ends-

Monday, 15 July 2019

NUI Galway seminar on ‘Decarbonising Ireland with Zero-Carbon Technologies’ to coincide with launch of €1.4 million Hydrogen Utilisation and Green Energy project  NUI Galway will host a public seminar on ‘Decarbonising Ireland with Zero-Carbon Technologies’, presenting current activities in Ireland and abroad around the use of renewable hydrogen as a clean energy vector. Successful examples of small and large-scale installations will be presented by leading experts in the field along with breakthrough research. The event will be opened by Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Sean Kyne, TD on Tuesday, 16 July.  In the last six months, hydrogen has experienced an exponential growth in interest with large car manufacturers and oil and gas companies among others, showing a clear shift on their investment strategies towards this chemical. Notwithstanding, hydrogen as a clean energy vector meets targets of a number of Sustainable Development Goals with a direct impact on climate change mitigation. Recently, Energia announced a €3 billion investment in renewable energy in Ireland with hydrogen being a key actor. This seminar aims to bring together all stakeholders from the island of Ireland to discuss opportunities and challenges for the deployment of hydrogen technologies in rural and peripheral regions. This includes green hydrogen production through excess wind and/or solar energy use in transportation, power-to-gas, energy storage and gas for industries, among others. It will also look at low-carbon technologies for public infrastructure and housing.  Dr Pau Farràs Costa, Energy Research Centre, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway, says: “The seminar is a stepping stone towards a wide dissemination to the public and stakeholders of the advantages of hydrogen as a fuel for the future, with direct implications for climate change, energy resilience and the development of jobs in rural communities.”  The seminar includes presentations and open discussions with a panel of experts on:  Hydrogen developments in Iceland Northern Netherlands TSO2020 project, large-scale deployment. Haeolus project in Norway, hydrogen in extreme climate conditions. SEAFUEL project (Sustainable integration of renewable fuels in local transportation) GenComm project (GENerating energy secure COMMunities) Hylantic (Atlantic Network for Renewable Generation and Supply of Hydrogen to promote High Energy Efficiency) Feasibility study for wind-to-hydrogen for local transportation - bus fleet Hydrogen in Northern Ireland Hydrogen Mobility Ireland Launch of HydrogenIreland @Galway The seminar will coincide with the kick-off meeting of the INTERREG Northern Periphery and Arctic project, HUGE (Hydrogen Utilisation and Green Energy). HUGE is a €1.4 million project led by The Environmental Research Institute with Dr Pau Farràs Costa at NUI Galway as partner. The project aims to provide communities with energy security by delivering to them the necessary tools to assess the hydrogen renewable energy chain opportunities in the Northern Periphery and Arctic area and beyond. This seminar is also part of the knowledge transfer activities designed in HUGE to engage with potential stakeholders and communities at the different regions of the partnership. Galway and the west coast of Ireland is an excellent example of the huge potential for production and use of hydrogen as a clean energy vector. In the seminar, successful examples of hydrogen activities occurring in Europe will be showcased to demonstrate the viability to invest in the technology and the benefits it can bring to the region. Ireland is starting to play a key role that include the formation of the Hydrogen Ireland Association, which will be presented for the first time in Galway, as well as a presentation of the Hydrogen Mobility Ireland group, with clear targets for the deployment of hydrogen refuelling stations and vehicles in a short timeframe. The event will also see one of only the two hydrogen-fuelled cars in Ireland, a Toyota Mirai owned by Photonomi Group CEO, John Quinn. The seminar is co-funded by the INTERREG Atlantic Area project SEAFUEL led by Dr Pau Farràs at NUI Galway. SEAFUEL targets the production and use of green hydrogen for local transportation in isolated territories, in particular islands. The project is looking at the Aran Islands as a key location for the technology, and aims to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen to be a key energy vector for the decarbonisation of the islands following their renewable energy targets (see The free event will take place in the Institute for Lifecourse and Society, North Campus, NUI Galway on Tuesday, 16 July from 9.30pm to 3pm. To register and attend this free event, visit: and enter ‘HUGE’ or ‘Decarbonising Ireland with Zero-Carbon Technologies’. To live stream the seminar, logon to: For more information about the seminar contact, contact Dr Pau Farràs Costa, Ryan Institute, NUI Galway at or 091 492765. -Ends-

Thursday, 4 July 2019

NUI Galway-based Biomedical Engineer, Oisín McGrath has been awarded a grant from Enterprise Ireland for €500,000 to further develop his project ‘Galenband’ for commercialisation. The project aims to provide a convenient and reliable wrist-worn device to monitor the heart activity of people with atrial fibrillation, and ultimately aims to reduce the rate of stroke and heart failure caused by the pathology. Atrial fibrillation occurs when the electrical impulses that coordinate heartbeats don’t work properly, causing the heart to beat irregularly. Tens of millions of people globally suffer from this dangerous heart arrhythmia which often presents with infrequently occurring symptoms, making it challenging to detect with currently used monitors due to their short recording durations. Years of suffering, and lives themselves could be saved if a heart monitor were available which could be worn discretely and unobtrusively for extended periods of time, whilst continually capturing data. Galenband seeks to provide cardiac clinicians with a wrist-worn device capable of drastically increasing detection rates of the infrequently occurring symptoms of intermittent atrial fibrillation. This notoriously difficult-to-detect pathology is responsible for half of all fatal ischemic strokes, and is a leading cause of heart failure. Galenband is a data collection and analysis device that will monitor the heart activity of wearers on a long-term basis, recording episodes of infrequently occurring heart arrhythmia. The initial inspiration for the project came from Oisín McGrath’s own personal experiences with heart arrhythmia. For 13 years, Oisín suffered with an undiagnosed heart arrhythmia. A standard response for a clinician when a heart arrhythmia is suspected is to issue a 24-48-hour heart monitor in order to capture the symptoms. This would ideally allow for the diagnosis of the condition. As Oisín’s symptoms were often spaced out by a week or more, the short recording duration of these monitors failed to capture any symptoms, and the arrhythmia continued to go undiagnosed, causing great mental anguish, high financial costs, and a potential danger to his life. During that time 11 different heart monitors failed to capture anything. Eventually, a cardiac pacing procedure was necessary in order to diagnose the arrhythmia. From this experience, Oisín recognised that a change in recording strategy was required in order to increase the efficacy of non-invasive symptom detection methods. Galenband project lead, Oisin McGrath, says: “The achievements of the project are a strong endorsement of the level of teaching and research in Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway. With the support of academic staff and the Technology Transfer Office in NUI Galway, and the funding received from Enterprise Ireland, Galenband will press forward in an effort to change the lives of atrial fibrillation patients on a global scale.” Professor Mark Bruzzi, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering and Science, NUI Galway, said: “This innovation is a great achievement and demonstrates the potential of teams innovating new technologies through the Master’s in Biomedical Engineering programme at NUI Galway.”  In 2010, shortly after his cardiac pacing procedure, Oisín began work on the earliest version of what would become Galenband. Cardiac rhythm monitoring methods formed the subject of Oisín’s Biomedical Engineering undergraduate thesis at NUI Galway, to allow him explore possible methods of accurately measuring heart rhythm with a long-term monitoring device. The needs-led innovation approach of the Biomedical Engineering degree programme at NUI Galway provided him with the perfect platform through which development could be furthered. During his Master’s in Biomedical Engineering, Oisín collaborated with students David Kerr, Belén Enguix, and Syed Kumail Jaffrey to investigate the logistical feasibility of the Galenband system ranging from a competitive landscape review to an overview of the regulatory pathway. The work carried out during this time received the Zenith award from Aerogen Ltd. The Galenband project was the first Irish project chosen by the world’s top University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as part of their IDEA² Global program and won the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) award for research in the field of medical engineering. Additionally, the project won the Technology category of the 2019 Universal Design Grand Challenge, organised by the Centre for Excellence in Universal Design at the National Disability Authority, and supported by Enterprise Ireland. -Ends-

Monday, 24 June 2019

NUI Galway leads the way with new regional enterprise hub to support the incubation and acceleration of healthcare technologies for start-ups in the Life Sciences sector in the West   Monday, 24 June, 2019: Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Sean Kyne, TD with NUI Galway’s Innovation Office, has officially opened 6,500 square feet of fully fitted laboratory space with state-of-the art technology to support start-ups in the region. The Business Innovation Centre – North will support start-ups in the Life Sciences sector, with room for up to 100 employees.  The new development complements the University’s existing Business Innovation Centres which are home to 52 early-stage companies. The University’s focus with the new Business Innovation Centre – North is in driving Life Sciences research and innovation to develop services and solutions that demonstrably improve outcomes for patients through solutions that save lives. Galway has a vibrant start-up ecosystem and the new facilities for Life Sciences will allow a new cohort of companies to flourish. Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Sean Kyne, TD, commented: “In the West of Ireland we are fortunate to have strong and vibrant clusters of industry that are populated by global companies but also local start-ups brimming with potential and possibilities. This new ‘wet lab’ space will help students, researchers, and Life Sciences workers undertake research and development, carry out experiments and test ideas that will potentially have life-enhancing and life-saving results for patients far beyond the West of Ireland. “I congratulate and commend NUI Galway for building on its already strong reputation for innovation and I wish all researchers and companies that will use this facility well in their vital work.” Fiona Neary, Innovation Operations Manager at NUI Galway, says: “We opened our first Business Innovation Centre 30 years ago, and we have supported 97 start-ups on campus that have created 1,456 jobs to date. 53 of these start-ups came from the healthcare sector. Just last year our start-ups raised €35 million collectively. With continued growth in this sector now more than ever, we need additional space and supports in this area to ensure the scalability of these companies internationally. “Life Sciences start-ups have very particular needs. They require access to sophisticated ‘wet labs’, very specialised and often expensive equipment, hospitals and a skilled workforce. These requirements are all available here in NUI Galway. We anticipate an initiative like this has the potential to create a “networked” regional enterprise hub for the incubation and acceleration of healthcare technologies. This will unleash the capability to promote sharing of resources and expertise, entrepreneurial activity, create jobs, to foster innovation and to enhance export potential.” David Murphy, Director of the Innovation Office at NUI Galway, says: “The regions’ Life Sciences ecosystem is maturing to the point that innovation and entrepreneurship is imperative to retain our current standing. The lack of appropriate incubator space, particularly laboratory space, has been an impediment to the growth and development of nascent entrepreneurial enterprises, and this has driven the Innovation Office in NUI Galway to pursue this initiative. With financial support from NUI Galway, we are delighted to open this space generating and supporting regional development that is central to the University’s strategy.” The new facility in Dangan already has its first tenant in place, NUI Galway spin-out Orbsen Therapeutics Ltd., a leading company in the development of cellular immunotherapies across four immune-mediated inflammatory conditions. Dr Larry Couture, CEO of Orbsen Therapeutics Ltd., said: “Orbsen originated from the world class science at NUI Galway. As a start-up R&D company, we benefited greatly from our close proximity to the research community and core services on campus, but as we’ve grown to be a clinical stage company, the lack of suitable laboratory space in the area for emerging biopharmaceutical companies made relocation inevitable. The Dangan facility is exactly what we and the local emerging biopharmaceutical community desperately need and it will allow Orbsen to remain and continue to grow in the Galway area.” For Orbsen Therapeutics this additional space will accommodate the company’s increasing staff and prepare for the next phase of growth as they close additional funding rounds to support the development of novel therapies. Business Innovation Centre – North is based in the Dangan Business Park in Galway. For more information about NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre, visit: -Ends-

Thursday, 13 June 2019

New facilities established in NUI Galway to accelerate the development of next generation biomaterials and advanced manufacturing technologies Researchers at NUI Galway launched on (12 June 2019) two new facilities, a Pilot Line for Bio-microsystems Development and an Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory, as part of the University’s ever expanding biomedical research and advanced manufacturing infrastructure. Pilot Line for Bio-microsystems Development This integrated advanced manufacturing testbed is the first of its kind globally and will accelerate the translation of laboratory-based research concepts towards pilot production. The printed electronics and printed biomaterials advanced manufacturing facility complements the University’s existing expertise and investments in biomaterials and stem cell manufacturing. The testbed will be used to evaluate advanced manufacturing of two types of biomedical product concepts – smart medical devices and tissue-engineered organs on a chip device. Smart medical devices are of particular relevance to the medical device industry in Galway; these devices are empowered with diagnostic and therapeutic functionalities. An example is a smart woundcare device that enables future smart wound dressings to sense the status of the wound and administer a drug accordingly. The manufacturing testbed enables Galway researchers to demonstrate how scalable printed technologies can be used to realise such devices, customised for each patient’s individual needs, on an economic scale. The manufacturing testbed can also generate arrays of artificial tissue know as tissue scaffolds. These structures are being developed to fully mimic different organs in the body. The ability to produce tissue scaffolds on a scalable platform are of increasing importance in the development of new advanced therapeutic medicinal products. For example, new cell based therapies to cure chronic illnesses can be efficiently evaluated using arrays of tissue scaffolds which mimic disease states in the human body. For example, mesenchymal stromal cells can be used to regenerate damaged tissues. The testbed was developed by Dr Gerard O’Connor, Head of the School of Physics at NUI Galway, over the last five years in partnership with UK manufacturing system integrator *M-Solv (Oxford) Ltd. Dr O’Connor leads the *NCLA Laser Laboratory at the School of Physics. He believes having the ability to integrate electronic, optical, and thermal stimuli in flexible medical devices “will be transformative - changing the way we connect with, and use, future healthcare products.” Dr O’Connor, said: “The new facility enables the NCLA Laser Laboratory to investigate the versatility of using multiple laser patterning, inkjet printing and spray deposition tools in the advanced digital manufacture of next generation smart medical devices and therapeutic devices.” The contribution by M-Solv Ltd., an advanced manufacturing systems company located in Oxford, UK, is very significant. Dr O’Connor and M-Solv have collaborated for 10 years, resulting in several publications, patent filings, and commercial contracts. The company’s CEO, Dr. Phil Rumsby, is excited by applying their significant expertise in hybrid electronics manufacturing to the biomedical sector using the three interconnected manufacturing modules which comprise the testbed. Dr Rumsby said: “The first module, a laser-based micro-machining module creates structured surfaces for microfluidics and embedded electronics. The second module uses laser, inkjet and spray tools to create structured conductive/non-conductive printed electronic features. Finally, a third bio-printing module applies living cells and other life-supporting biomaterials to structured surfaces. This is a major research platform with significant innovative potential, we are pleased to have been able to rise to the challenge.” The testbed is funded by Science Foundation Ireland under the Infrastructures Programme. SFI Research Centres *I-FORM (advanced manufacturing) and CÚRAM (medical devices) are available to provide support for enterprises and academics seeking access to the manufacturing platform. Speaking at the launch of the new testbed, Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, said: “This manufacturing testbed will significantly increase our ability to lead research in the development of novel technologies. CÚRAM will work closely with the NCLA and I-Form to harness this unique platform and continue creating next generation biomaterials that will play a critical role in the treatment of a host of chronic ailments.” The laboratory in which the testbed is located was developed with funding provided under the Atlantic Area Interregional (INTERREG) EU programme under a project entitled AtlanticKETMed. The project is also led by Dr O’Connor and has established an international community of first adopters for the testbed comprising of hospitals, networks of industries, and international research centres. The testbed and its ancillary laboratories are located in the School of Physics. The School’s MSc in Medical Physics is the first European MSc programme to be awarded accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Physics Education Programmes (CAMPEP), the second only programme worldwide outside the USA to do so. Dr O’Connor is keen to recognise the many contributions made by graduate students and technical staff throughout the School of Physics in realising this development. The School has established an MSc programme in Key Enabling Technologies to provide graduate training on the manufacturing testbed. Advanced Manufacturing Laboratory Dr Noel Harrison from the College of Engineering at NUI Galway also launched on (12 June 2019) the new Advanced Manufacturing Lab (AML) in the Alice Perry Engineering Building, which houses a suite of Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing) technologies. The lab has been developed by Dr Harrison (Mechanical Engineering and I-Form Funded Investigator) to advance teaching, fundamental research, and industry collaboration on future sustainable manufacturing technologies, materials and product design. With NUI Galway’s first metal powder bed fusion printer (3D Systems DMP ProX 100), the AML offers new capability for in-house prototyping and experimental manufacturing. Last month, an AM cementless orthopaedic device technology developed and patented by Dr Harrison was licenced to the medtech company Loci Orthopaedics Ltd, also based at NUI Galway. Dr Noel Harrison from NUI Galway, said: “Multiple industries now demand engineering graduates with knowledge and experience in 3D Printing process hardware, software, materials and design. The AML lab is an invaluable resource for our Degree and Masters students and is a state of the art research facility for our PhD student and Postdoctoral researchers.” “Manufacturing is the second largest employer in Ireland and accounts for 36.5 percent of GDP”, said I-Form Director, Professor Denis Dowling. “These new testbeds at NUI Galway are key pieces of infrastructure for the manufacturing research community, and they will ensure that Irish manufacturers continue to have access to leading edge technology for the development of world-class products.” Speaking about the awards supporting both of these facilities, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support the launch of this state-of-the-art manufacturing testbed, which is funded through our Research Infrastructure Programme. The programme specifically seeks to support researchers by ensuring there are superb technologies and supports in place for them, ultimately facilitating excellent and impactful scientific research. The testbed is a great reflection of collaboration between different stakeholders in the ecosystem, with SFI Research Centres CÚRAM and I-Form collaborating with NUI Galway to enhance our understanding of advanced manufacturing.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

: Scientists from the Applied Optics group in the School of Physics at NUI Galway have been selected by the European Space Agency to carry out a study to detect gravitational waves from many different kinds of sources, such as massive stars rotating each other, or black holes spiralling into each other, as part of the space mission LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna). The European Space Agency (ESA) contemplates the possibility to launch in 2034 three spacecraft in the LISA mission, the first space-based gravitational wave observatory. Selected to be ESA’s third large-class mission, LISA will address the science theme of the Gravitational Universe. The purpose is to detect ‘gravitational waves’, which are tiny ripples in the fabric of space-time. To do this, the three spacecraft will be placed 2.5 million kilometres apart from each other in a triangular formation, following Earth in its orbit around the Sun to detect tiny changes in their separations. The size of the changes is 1 ‘pico-meter’, which is 100 times smaller than an atom. Optical techniques are required to achieve this incredible precision, and the European Space Agency has contracted scientists from the Applied Optics group in the School of Physics at NUI Galway to carry out a study in order to ensure that such precision is indeed feasible. This follows on from the scientists’ recent successful completion of an ESA project to build a prototype Active Optics system for future Space Telescopes. Each of the three spacecraft will carry two telescopes, one of which is used to transmit a laser beam to another LISA spacecraft, and one to receive a laser beam. The combined beams give rise to a pattern of bright and dark lines. Gravitational waves cause tiny changes in the spacecraft separation, and these lead to shifts in the pattern which can be detected.  The ground-based LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational – Wave Observatory) experiment has already detected gravitational waves due to coalescing black holes, with the experiment designers winning the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics. However, these detections are very difficult on the ground due to interference from vibrations ranging from earth tremors to distant trucks. In space, LISA will be sensitive to many more sources of gravitational waves and will open up a whole new type of astronomy. Dr Nicholas Devaney and Dr Fiona Kenny from the Applied Optics Group in the School of Physics at NUI Galway are writing software to precisely calculate the transmission of light between the LISA spacecraft’s. They will include the optical design of the telescopes and determine the effect of errors in the telescope optics. It is vital for the European Space Agency to know how the optics have to be made in order to be able to detect gravitational waves. This will determine the final telescope design and have a major impact on the mission.  Speaking about the study Dr Nicholas Devaney from NUI Galway, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Irish scientists to be involved in this exciting mission. It recognises the expertise of NUI Galway scientists in the field of space optics and we plan to build on this work to expand Galway activities in this area.” The NUI Galway gravitational wave spacecraft study is being carried out under a programme of and funded for by the European Space Agency. For more information about LISA, visit: -Ends-

Monday, 10 June 2019

 Update from NUI Galway on the Performance of Ireland’s Ocean Economy NUI Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) has released its latest update on the performance of Ireland’s Ocean Economy. The latest figures have been announced by Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, TD at the Annual Ocean Wealth Summit in Cork today (10, June 2019). The 2019 Summit will see national and global leaders discuss the health of our oceans. This includes senior Government and UN representatives from island states sharing experiences on oceans’ health and climate change. Coinciding with the Our Ocean Wealth Summit and the Government’s Annual Review of its Integrated Marine Plan – Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, the report presents a complete and comparable profile across thirteen marine related industries in Ireland. The update shows that Ireland’s ocean economy has a turnover of €6.2 billion, with a direct economic contribution, as measured by gross added value (GVA), of €2.2 billion or 1.1% of gross domestic product (GDP). Taking into account indirect GVA generated from ocean related activity in Ireland total GVA is €4.2 billion, representing 2% of GDP. Dr Stephen Hynes, co-author of the report and Director of SEMRU based at the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI Galway, has advised the Government that: “The latest figures indicate that Ireland’s ocean economy continues to see growth across both established and emerging marine industries. We expect the Government’s 2020 target will be exceeded next year, and the gap is narrowing in terms of the Government’s ambitious 2030 target.” SEMRU categorises Ireland’s ocean economy into two broad categories: Ireland’s Established Marine Industries – comprised of traditional marine sectors such as shipping, seafood, tourism in marine and coastal areas, offshore energy, marine manufacturing, and engineering and marine retail services – have an estimated turnover of €5.8 billion, and provide employment of 32,048 full time equivalents (FTEs). These segments of the ocean economy represent 93% of the total turnover and 94% of total employment. The top three sectors in terms of value and employment continue to be shipping, marine tourism and seafood. Ireland’s Emerging Marine Industries – comprised of marine renewables, marine biotechnology, advanced marine products and services, and maritime commerce – have an estimated turnover of €459 million and provide employment to 2,084 FTEs representing 7% of the turnover and 6% of employment in Ireland’s ocean economy. Of the emerging industries, marine commerce and the marine biotechnology and bio-products industries experienced the largest increases in turnover and GVA in the 2016-2018 period. This year’s report also includes a socio-demographic profile of Ireland’s coastal economy and presents the values of a range of marine ecosystem services to Irish society. Dr Hynes highlighted: “Tracking marine economic activities, monitoring developments in our coastal economy and estimating the marine ecosystem service benefit values to Irish society promotes more informed maritime planning and more effective marine policy formation.” The latest ocean economy report is funded by the Marine Institute through its Marine Research Programme. Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO of the Marine Institute, commented: “Ireland is one of the few countries that has access to this regularly updated marine economic data, with trends now spanning over 10 years. These independent data and trends published by NUI Galway underpin the vision set out by the Government in Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth whereby Ireland’s vast marine territory is harnessed in a sustainable manner and is recognised as an integral element of Ireland’s overall economy, generating benefits for Irish citizens and supported by integrated policy, planning and regulation.” Commenting on the report, Professor Alan Ahearne, Director of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway stated: “With the uncertainty being generated by Brexit, our Ocean Wealth has never been more important to our economic prosperity. The figures published by SEMRU clearly demonstrate the importance and impact of targeted investment and research in developing a sustainable ocean economy here in Ireland.” To read the full report, see: -Ends-

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Announcement was made by Ministers Humphreys and Halligan today Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, today announced the six finalists in the SFI Future Innovator Prize competition. NUI Galway are among the six finalists who were selected following a rigorous and highly competitive process overseen by an international expert review panel. The six teams aim to address a number of societal challenges through the development of novel, potentially disruptive, technologies. A novel aspect of the programme is the requirement for a Societal Impact Champion to be part of the leadership team. The key role of this champion is to provide a strong societal perspective for the team as they develop their solution. The NUI Galway project will focus on the ‘Reducing the Burden of Chronic Pain’ challenge area. The project, ‘A novel hydrogel to address chronic pain in Irish patients’, is being carried out by a team which includes: Dr Alison Liddy, Biomedical Engineer and Chemist, NUI Galway; Dr Martin O'Halloran, Senior Lecturer in Medical Electronics, NUI Galway; and Dr Chris Maharaj, Consultant Anaesthetist and Pain Specialist, University Hospital Galway. An overall winning team will be announced in December and will receive a prize award of €1 million, providing the opportunity to deploy an innovative solution with potential to deliver significant impact to Irish society. Congratulating the shortlisted teams, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, said: “On behalf of the Government, I want to congratulate the six teams who have made it to the second round of the Future Innovator Prize competition. We launched the initiative last year to encourage bright minds across the country to work together to identify major challenges facing Ireland’s society, and to propose creative solutions. It is very exciting to see so many innovative ideas coming through and I look forward to seeing their ideas develop further over the coming months.” Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, said: “It is heartening to see the excellent standard of the six teams who have progressed to the second round of the SFI Future Innovator Prize competition. Their passion for their fields reflects their dedication to improving Ireland’s economy and society through research, collaboration and inventiveness. I am confident that they will continue to impress us as the competition goes on.” Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “I congratulate the six finalists on making it to the next stage of the SFI Future Innovator Prize competition. This programme by its very design, is highly competitive and seeks to fund excellent research that aims to produce a tangible impact for society. Proceeding to this phase of the programme is a great achievement, and the motivation of the teams demonstrates the appetite and capacity of the Irish research community to help contribute to solving major national and global challenges. Congratulations to each team on their hard work and dedication.” The SFI Future Innovator Prize, funded by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation through Science Foundation Ireland, is part of an overall government plan to cultivate challenge-based funding in Ireland. Challenge-based funding is a solution focused approach to funding research that uses prizes and other incentives to direct innovation activities at specific problems. The SFI Future Innovator Prize challenges the country’s best and brightest unconventional thinkers and innovators to create novel, potentially disruptive technologies in collaboration with societal stakeholders and end-users.  The programme aligns with the Government’s Future Jobs Ireland initiative, beginning to prepare for jobs of the future now through ensuring that our economy is well positioned to tackle obstacles and continue transforming for the better. The competing teams are led by academic researchers and a “Societal Impact Champion” drawn from a range of disciplines and stakeholder groups such as industry and civil society in an effort to support convergent and collaborative problem-solving. Competing teams come from University College Dublin (UCD), Dublin City University (DCU), NUI Galway, University College Cork (UCC), and Tyndall National Institute (TNI), with involvement of a number of national agencies, hospitals and world leading SFI Research Centres. The challenge areas and issues to be addressed by the other five finalists are as follows: Challenge Area: Reducing the Burden of Sepsis Dr Elaine Spain (Analytical Chemistry, DCU); Dr Kellie Adamson (Diagnostics and Therapeutics and Biomaterials Science, DCU); Professor Gerald Curley, (Sepsis Lead, RCSI Network of Hospitals, Beaumont Hospital) Project - SepTec: Improving Outcomes for Sepsis Patients Challenge Area: Harnessing Gene Editing to Treat Rare Diseases such as Epidermolysis bullosa (EB) Professor Wenxin Wang, Dr Irene-Lara Sáez and Jonathan O’Keeffe-Ahern (Charles Institute of Dermatology, UCD); Dr Nan Zhang (Mechanical and Materials Engineering, UCD); Dr Sinead Hickey (Research Manager, DEBRA Ireland) Project - A disruptive, non‐viral gene editing platform technology for treating genetic conditions Challenge Area: Enabling Next Generation Biological Imaging        Professor Dominic Zerulla (Physics and Plasmonics, UCD); Dr Dimitri Scholz (Biology and Director of the Conway Imaging facilities, UCD); Peter Doyle (consulting the European Commission with the Brussels Photonics Team on strategic innovation and business development)        Project - Real‐time imaging of nanoscale biological processes via plasmonically enabled nanopixel arrays Challenge Area: Enabling Better Breast Cancer Diagnosis Dr Eric Moore (Analytical Chemistry, TNI/UCC); Martin O'Sullivan (Lead Surgeon, BreastCheck Southern Unit and UCC); Liosa O'Sullivan (Patient Advocate) Project - Development of a technology for clinicians to improve the breast cancer diagnostic pathway through real time point of care detection of breast disease.   Challenge Area: Minimising Hospital Waiting-lists and Optimising Healthcare Capacity Professor Barry O'Sullivan and Helmut Simonis (School of Computer Science and Insight Centre for Data Analytics, University College Cork); Dr Jane Bourke (Economics, Technology Adoption and Health Care Innovation, University College Cork); Prof Martin Curley (Director, HSE Digital Academy) Project - An artificial intelligence and data analytics system for minimising hospital waiting-lists and optimising healthcare capacity in Ireland -Ends-

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

The e-Assessment Association names advanced assessment provider Qpercom as the winner of Best Use of Summative Assessment Award 2019 The e-Assessment Association recently hosted their international award programme, the e-Assessment Awards in London. The association highlights advancements in e-assessment across all sectors and industries. NUI Galway spin out, Qpercom was selected as winner for ‘Best Use of Summative Assessment 2019’. Winners were selected from a group of global assessment providers by a panel of highly experienced, international experts. Summative Assessment examines the outcome of courses and stands between the student and their accreditation. Qpercom’s Observe software solution was created ten years ago at NUI Galway to digitalise the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) used in healthcare education to assess clinical skills of students. Manual correction and analysis of OSCEs was extremely time consuming and expensive before Observe. In clinical practice, as in aviation, a person may only get one opportunity to make a critical decision. There is no room for error in clinical assessments which qualify tomorrow’s clinicians to deal with life and death. Today, thousands of clinical assessments are measured in universities around the world using Observe. Dr Thomas Kropmans, CEO of Qpercom and Senior Lecturer in Medical Informatics and Education at NUI Galway, said: “We have supplied Observe to universities worldwide for over ten years, with thousands of students and their examiners benefiting from the technology. Receiving the Best Use of Summative Assessment award with international recognition from this calibre of assessment providers is the icing on the cake for us. Qpercom’s advanced assessment solutions provides detailed psychometric analysis. Our work allows educators to make reliable decisions of who should pass or fail. These decisions are backed up by embedding the Standard Error of Measurement, which should be incorporated in any kind of robust assessment. “Observe assesses our future clinicians and nothing is more critical than assessing life and death situations. We incorporate best practices in Quality Assurance in our software. Our mission to advance assessment will continue, and we are grateful for this recognition of the direction of our work by the e-Assessment Association.” Qpercom spun out from the School of Medicine at NUI Galway in 2008. Originally based at the University’s Business and Innovation Centre with a team of seven specialists, Qpercom provides advanced assessment software solutions to universities globally, including the University of Dundee, Karolinska Institute and the National University of Singapore. For more information about Qpercom, visit: or follow on Twitter @qpercom. View the e-Assessment Awards highlights, here: -Ends-

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

2019 AtlanTec conference at NUI Galway to feature Design Thinking for Teens, Tech Tag World Championships, the Digital Women’s Forum and more The international line-up of expert speakers has been announced for the AtlanTec 2019 conference at NUI Galway on Thursday, 30 May. Now in its fifth year, the conference is a cornerstone of the AtlanTec Festival organised by the non-profit IT Association Galway (ITAG). This year’s conference title is ‘The art of artificial intelligence and machine learning, new paradigm or false dawn?’ The event will combine futuristic thinking, real-life case examples, and deep-dives into technologies and trends. Over 400 business leaders, expert software developers, and technologists are expected to attend the day-long conference. Dynamic keynote talks and panel discussions will feature futurist Denis Rivin, IBM expert Steve Tolle, medical innovator Catharine Bowman, Ally Watson from Code Like a Girl and Microsoft’s Gary Short. Three afternoon parallel sessions will cover Artificial Intelligence (AI) Implementation, Tools and Techniques and the MedTech AI Revolution. Caroline Cawley, CEO of ITAG, says: “Great minds are attracted by the AtlanTec conference’s growing popularity year on year, and by the region’s worldwide IT reputation. We are delighted to welcome such excellent speakers and delegates. The conference will be the endnote to the AtlanTec Festival which kicked off in April. Other events include, Design Thinking for Teens, Music Technology with the Swansea Laptop Orchestra, Tech Tag World Championships, the Digital Women’s Forum Afternoon Tea and a series of schools events for secondary school students and STEAM Inspiration.”  Ireland is at the heart of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) in Europe, with eight of the top ten global software companies based here. The industry employs over 37,000 people and generates €35 billion in exports annually.  David Murphy, Director of Knowledge Transfer and Innovation at NUI Galway’s Innovation Office, said: “The west of Ireland has a range of strong, vibrant technology companies operating in an innovation ecosystem which is supported by world-class education, research, and business supports. This ecosystem provides a platform for companies to have global impact from the region whether they are individual entrepreneurs, scaling indigenous companies, or large multinational corporations.”  For further details on the conference visit: and follow on Twitter @atlantecfest and on Facebook at AtlanTec Festival.  View short AtlanTec video here: -Ends-

Monday, 29 April 2019

NUI Galway students who have taken an entrepreneurial journey recently pitched their ideas for a healthcare solution in the mHealth domain. The programme delivered by LaunchPad, NUI Galway’s student entrepreneurship hub, has trained over 30 student innovators develop novel solutions to real world problems which have the potential for global impact. The programme is funded as part of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Health which is a network of best-in-class health innovators backed by the EU. The programme focussed on two challenges: supporting those diagnosed with dementia to remain autonomous and independent, and supporting those living a sedentary lifestyle whose health has started to deteriorate. The programme built momentum through an eight week-long series of workshops designed to support students to develop as a team, understand customer discover, design thinking and the lean canvas.  The winning project, Hear Me, is a hearing device designed to assist people with cognitive decline. It has a machine learning aspect to support memory recall, music therapy and voice recognition. The technology adapts and grows with the user.  The winning team were Ross Dempsey, Harshal Deshmukh, Ketan Udaysingh Bhadoriya, Mark Caffery and Hemant Kumar Surouthia with backgrounds in Physics, Business Analytics, Information Systems and Exercise Physiology. The winning team was mentored by Claire O’Sullivan from BioInnovate Ireland.   Second prize was awarded to Zeel, which focused on solving the problem of limited physical activity by individuals who are not motivated and have poor habit-forming techniques. Zeel builds on the human psychology of positive habit-forming, and promotes a healthier lifestyle through real rewards and competitive social interactions. Team Zeel are Joshua Chao, Laura McDermott, Kevin Lee, Paul Walsh and Ciarán McDermott. The team members have backgrounds in Engineering, Science, Business and Medicine. The team was mentored by Dr Robert McEvoy, BioInnovate Ireland. Third prize was awarded to the Unforgettapil team. Market research from dementia care specialists and recently diagnosed patients showed that one problem stood out above the rest; compliance with medication. Unforgettapil tackled this problem through an innovative wearable device which dispenses daily medication. Smart canisters and time-controlled delivery encourages adherence to a medication regime by incorporating it into daily life. Team Unforgettapil include Liezel Ravenscroft, Sarah Murphy, Christopher Patti, Corey Cunningham and Balaji Ayyalusamy Seenivasa Raghavan. The students have backgrounds in Medicine, Engineering and Business Analytics. The team was mentored by Damien Moloney, BioInnovate Ireland. The ultimate goal of EIT Health Campus Entrepreneurship labs is to offer an experiential training programme connecting business, research and innovation with students so they can master the craft of entrepreneurship and innovation through real life cases. NUI Galway is a new site for the EIT Health Campus E-Lab Programme. Natalie Walsh, Executive Director of the programme at NUI Galway said: “We are passionate about our programme expanding and creating new international platforms to showcase our growing student innovation community. The EIT Health E-Lab is an excellent fit for our campus, particularly given NUI Galway’s position as a global hub for MedTech education, training and innovation. Creating these types of opportunities for our students showcase the value of diversity, inclusiveness and team building to innovative practices and having access to world class mentors including our colleagues in BioInnovate Ireland, give students a unique and highly valuable experience.” The top performing teams will travel to Spain in June to represent NUI Galway at the EIT Health Campus E-Lab finals. -Ends-

Tuesday, 23 April 2019

Earth Observation and space innovation-driven entrepreneurs and enterprises in Ireland encouraged to participate in Hackathon led by ICHEC founded at NUI Galway The Irish Centre for High End Computing (ICHEC), has announced Ireland’s first Copernicus Hackathon, aimed at promoting the Earth Observation (EO) services sector across the country. The event takes place throughout the IT building at NUI Galway from 10-12 May 2019. The themes for the Hackathon contest represent areas where there is already significant expertise in Ireland, or significant need. These include digital agriculture, marine environment and security, unmanned aerial vehicles, energy and power, air quality and sustainable/ rural/socially responsible development. Hackathon participants will be challenged to come up with solutions for real-world problems using Copernicus satellite data (Copernicus is the European Earth Observation programme), and will compete for a range of awards, including cash prizes. The winners will be offered a place in the Copernicus Accelerator which offers a customised business development scheme for 50 visionary start-ups and entrepreneurs from Copernicus Participating Countries, the EU, Norway and Iceland, every year. A 30-day residency to develop solutions in the European Space Agency’s innovation-focused Phi Lab in Frascati, Italy is another of the prizes on offer. According to Dr Jenny Hanafin, Senior Earth Observation Scientist at ICHEC, founded at NUI Galway: “The space and Earth Observation ecosystem in Ireland has been developing rapidly in recent years and the first National Space Strategy is about to be published, acknowledging that this field has grown significantly. The strategy also establishes the means to support it with further growth. In Ireland there is a small but growing Earth Observation services sector. “ICHEC has recently launched its *SPÉir platform which aims to make satellite data easily accessible for Irish users, and promotes the use and application of Earth Observation and Copernicus data on a national basis. It’s clear that Ireland has a high level of the skills required to further develop this sector and our aim is that the proposed Hackathon event will help to achieve this.” Dr John Breslin, a Principal Investigator at the Confirm SFI Research Centre for Smart Manufacturing and Senior Lecturer at NUI Galway, says: “Hackathon is an ideal confluence point to bring together those with complementary skills – IT developers and designers, entrepreneurs and domain experts - to create exciting new applications based on Copernicus Earth Observation data and services. Ultimately, post event, we want to see more EO and space innovation-driven enterprises in Ireland, both hardware and software, with application areas ranging from smart manufacturing of new EO/space devices to systems tackling climate change or natural disasters.” According to Breslin, throughout the Hackathon the teams will get the opportunity to test out their initial innovative ideas on others, refine those innovations through a prototype, put a plan in place to take those ideas into a viable commercial proposition, and pitch the entire package to judges. Dr Breslin, added: “It’s important that people who are interested in different aspects of Earth Observation and space entrepreneurship attend the event, including those who like to hack or make things, like developers and designers, those who like to hustle and drive business, sales and growth, and those who bring the much-needed topic-specific expertise and know-how in Earth Observation and space. Remember that a technology innovation is nothing without a customer who wants to pay for it, so it must be a needs-led innovation.” The overall aims of the Hackathon are to raise awareness of commercial opportunities and to generate potential start-up, spawn-out or spinout ideas, and where possible provide support pathways to pre-commercial level for successful participants. A more general aim is to highlight the relevance of Copernicus data beyond the Space and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sectors, through the publicity generated by the event. Dr Hanafin, added: “To achieve these aims, we have invited a number of organisations to join us as partners for the event. These partners will allow us to leverage a range of skills that will be important in organising a successful, exciting event, promoting it to the relevant people, and supporting successful participants to take their hackathon ideas to the next level. “We are aiming for 50-60 participants to take part, with skills in Earth Observation, Geographic Information Systems, thematic areas like agriculture, marine, drones, data analysis, data visualisation, app development, web service development, graphic design, programming, project management, entrepreneurship and business development. We encourage anyone with any of these skills to register and take part, as it will be an exciting and fulfilling event.” Alongside ICHEC the event partners include TechInnovate at NUI Galway, Baily Labs, UCC Dept. of Geography, the National Centre for Geocomputation at MU, The National Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy (MaREI), the OPW, Teagasc, ESA Phi-Lab, ESA Space Solutions Centre Ireland, Icon Group, GEO University, Údarás na Gaeltachta and The National Digital Research Centre (NDRC). Register at and for further information email, check out the Copernicus Hackathon Ireland Facebook event page or follow on twitter @CopHackIE. -Ends-

Tuesday, 16 April 2019

NUI Galway students were awarded a bursary of €3,000 to make their idea for a better Ireland a reality at the Pathways to Progress event last week. Their winning project, Understanding Le Chéile, seeks to raise awareness of autism in schools and businesses around Ireland. Understanding Le Chéile is a project that empowers people with autism to deliver information workshops that raise awareness of autism in schools and businesses around Ireland. Now in its second year, the Pathways to Progress initiative is a key element of the partnership between Citi Foundation and Enactus Ireland. The partnership aims to provide resources for students to empower people between the ages of 16 and 24 from disadvantaged urban areas around Ireland. Successful projects receive seed funding, intensive training, mentoring and guidance from Citi volunteers and Enactus Ireland staff. NUI Galway student, Caoimhe Farrell, Academic Leader of Understanding Le Chéile, said: “We continue to strive towards making our goals a reality in ensuring equal treatment for everyone in the academic and corporate settings regardless of their physical, intellectual or emotional abilities.” Ronan Lavin, Corporate Leader of Understanding Le Chéile and NUI Galway student, said: “We hope to pave a way for businesses and schools to encourage, build and nurture environments founded on inclusion, collaboration and respect.”  On this year’s finalists, Ray Kirwan, Senior Compliance Officer from Citi, said: “Citi is delighted to have hosted the final Dragon’s Den pitch, as part of our Pathways to Progress programme with Enactus. The judging panel were all really impressed with the quality of the projects and the work the teams put into them. While the panel found it difficult to select one winning project, Understanding Le Chéile stood out for the impact and empowerment for all involved as well as how it has developed over the last 12 months, with more opportunities to grow in the future. To learn more about Enactus Ireland and the Pathways to Progress initiative visit    -Ends-

Friday, 12 April 2019

New laboratory will carry out research in disruptive technologies and nature-based solutions for environmental protection and the Irish biobased economy NUI Galway has officially launched a new research laboratory, featuring the latest analytical equipment to characterise biofuels produced from organic waste as well as the microbial communities which produce these fuels. Professor Piet Lens will lead a team of 25 PhD and post-doctoral researchers in the Department of Microbiology at NUI Galway, which includes almost €1 million of advanced analytical equipment, funded through an investment under the Science Foundation Ireland Research Professorship Programme, ‘Innovative Energy Technologies for Bioenergy, Biofuels and a Sustainable Irish Bioeconomy’. Professor Piet Lens is a leading expert in environmental biotechnology and recently joined NUI Galway as an Established Professor of New Energy Technologies at the University’s College of Science and Engineering. Professor Lens and his team are spearheading this major research project to transform waste and wastewater treatment into production processes as part of a circular economy. The project will develop new technologies to produce biobased renewable fuels (such as hydrogen from dairy effluent) that are generated from waste products (such as butanol from spent brewery grains). These can be added to Ireland’s energy mix, supporting the Government’s strategy for an energy self-sufficient Irish bioeconomy. The laboratory performs research on a whole suite of disruptive, high-tech solutions for waste minimisation and material recycling that are already at our disposal, such as anaerobic digesters, a process used for industrial or domestic purposes to manage waste or to produce fuels, that will be developed over the coming years. Besides high-tech solutions, nature-based technologies will also be developed with the aim of tackling socio-environmental challenges such as climate change, water security, water pollution, food security and human health. These pollution control technologies are based on processes as they occur in wetlands and algal ponds. Also, the biomanufacturing of new biobased products such as fertilizers and biocommodities (such as polylactic acid and bioplastic). At the launch, Professor Piet Lens, NUI Galway, commented: “This is a fantastic opportunity for NUI Galway to develop new technologies that transform wastewater and waste into energy and biocommodities. The investment of Science Foundation Ireland in this area is a response to the nation’s Climate Action Plan and ambitions to become a self-sustainable island for energy, where renewable biofuels are generated out of our wastes.”  -Ends- 

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Minister Halligan launched 2019 National IP Protocol, referencing Ireland’s “competitive edge”   Protocol provides a practical framework for businesses to access and use Irish research with a dedicated section on the formation of spin-out companies   NUI Galway spin-out company Loci Orthopaedics shares its spin-out experience with attendees Knowledge Transfer Ireland’s (KTI) national roadshow to present the IP Protocol 2019 to businesses and researchers around the country, arrived in NUI Galway today. The Protocol, which is in its third edition, is produced and managed by Knowledge Transfer Ireland on behalf of the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation. It provides a practical, best practice framework for businesses, from start-ups and SMEs to large multi-nationals and entrepreneurs to access and utilise Irish research to drive economic growth.   The Protocol sets a benchmark for good practice in the commercialisation of valuable intellectual property all around the country, on terms that are fair to researchers and business alike, and in ways that are predictable and consistent from one negotiation to the next.   The IP Protocol has been a reference point for business and research communities since it was first produced by the Department in 2012. This new Protocol is an update to the previous IP Protocol published in 2016. Recognising the significant numbers of spin-out companies coming out of research performing organisations around the country, the new Protocol includes a dedicated section on best practice in the formation of spin-out companies.  It also includes a summary of the issues relating to state aid in the commercialisation of research.   Brendan Boland, CEO of Loci Orthopaedics, an NUI Galway-based spin-out company, shared his first-hand experience of growing a spin-out company with attendees at the event: “One in 10 of the general population and one in three women over 55 suffer from thumb base arthritis and through our research with NUI Galway, a hugely innovative implant for the treatment of this condition came into being. With the support of the Innovation Office at the University, we have been able to take this technology and spin out of the lab and onto the path of commercialising it for the benefit of arthritis sufferers around the world.   “I am very pleased that the IP Protocol 2019 includes a new chapter on spin-out company formation which is a great acknowledgement of the importance of university spin-outs in the start-up ecosystem of Ireland and I look forward to sharing some of the highs and lows from our journey so far with attendees at today’s 2019 IP Protocol launch.”   Commenting, Minister Halligan, Minister of State at the Department of Business Enterprise and Innovation and the Department of Education and Skills, said: “The commercialisation of public research to drive innovation and Ireland’s economic competitiveness is a key pillar of the Government’s innovation strategy, Innovation 2020. While investment in research performing organisations the length and breadth of the country is critical, it must go hand in hand with an effective strategy to put that research into the hands of businesses for the benefit of the Irish economy and society. The National IP Protocol is a key element of that strategy.   “In today’s climate, more than ever, it is vital that we harness the considerable abilities of Ireland’s researchers, so as to give businesses the best possible competitive edge on the European and global stage.”   Commenting, Alison Campbell, Director of Knowledge Transfer Ireland, said: “I am delighted to welcome the publication of the new IP Protocol. The new section on spin-out company formation developed in consultation with people operating at the coal-face is particularly welcome and was drafted to address a gap in the framework. The range of practical tools produced by Knowledge Transfer Ireland that are referenced throughout the Protocol and its associated Resource Guide have been expanded. The aim of these tools is to provide relevant resources that demystify knowledge transfer and allow commercialisation and collaboration to flourish, while protecting the interests of all parties and freeing up researchers and businesses to get on with the business of innovating.”   The National IP Protocol 2019 comprises two documents:    1)      the policy document which sets out the framework underpinning research collaboration and access to intellectual property from state-funded research.     2)      the resource guide which provides an overview of the national IP management guidelines and links to a wealth of resources and template documents that support these guidelines. It also provides an overview of the knowledge transfer structures in Ireland and the kinds of agreements that can be used to formalise research-industry engagements and spin-out company-related contracts.   The Protocol is the product of an extensive consultative process facilitated by Knowledge Transfer Ireland with representatives from industry, investors, entrepreneurs, agencies and research organisations to ensure that Government policy supports all types of enterprises engaging with publicly-funded research in Ireland.   For more information or to download the National IP Protocol 2019 visit

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Minister Bruton Announces US-Ireland tripartite center-to-center research between CÚRAM, Queens University Belfast and North Carolina State University Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Richard Bruton TD, today announced that CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, will partner in a tripartite collaboration worth €1.7 million to conduct research into smart cardiovascular repair technologies, through the US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership Programme. The project will be led by Dr Manus Biggs, Lecturer in Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway, and CÚRAM researcher.   Speaking at a Science Foundation Ireland event in MIT, Boston, in the US, Minister Bruton welcomed the announcement of the US-Ireland Partnership, saying: “Ireland continues to be an excellent location for collaborative research. I am delighted to welcome this US-Ireland partnership which further strengthens the strong and historic relationship between both countries. It is a testament to Ireland’s scientific prowess, that we are working closely with top institutions across the world, generating valuable discoveries and innovations that can benefit societies and economies across the globe.”   The US-Ireland Research and Development Partnership, launched in July 2006, is a unique initiative that aims to increase the level of collaborative Research and Development amongst researchers and industry professionals across three jurisdictions: USA, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.   This tripartite center-to-center (C2C) research collaboration will be conducted in conjunction with the National Science Foundation-funded centre for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST), led by North Carolina State University and the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology (CCRCB) at Queens University Belfast. Its’ goal is to use combined expertise in advanced sensor systems, microanalytical systems, biomaterials, energy harvesting, and systems biology to transform current medical interventions and standards of care to research and develop externally-powered implants for continuous cardiovascular health monitoring.   Dr Manus Biggs will lead the research programme in Ireland in conjunction with collaborators Dr Martin O’Halloran and Professor Stewart Walsh at CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway. Funded by Science Foundation Ireland, CÚRAM’s primary objective is to radically improve health outcomes for patients by developing innovative implantable ‘smart’ medical devices to treat major unmet medical needs.   Commenting on the award, Dr Manus Biggs from CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said:“This US-Ireland R&D Partnership award will facilitate exciting multi-disciplinary research between three centres of excellence in science and engineering. We look forward to working with our partners in the US and Northern Ireland on this critical healthcare need.”   Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death globally, resulting in close to 20 million deaths in 2018. However, despite evidence-based medical and pharmacologic advances the management of cardiovascular disease remains challenging, whether in the ambulatory setting where periodic disease monitoring has failed, or in the inpatient setting where readmission rates and morbidity remains high. It is estimated that 90% of cardiovascular diseases are preventable, yet there is an urgent need to develop strategies to reduce hospitalisations and readmission rates.   Rebecca Keiser, head of NSF's Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE), said: “As our global community grows even more interwoven, we are presented with exciting opportunities and new challenges. We know the benefits of global cooperation, and we are proud to have supported some of the breakthroughs those collaborations have inspired. This partnership between the NSF ASSIST ERC, the DfE CCRCB Center, and CURAM SFI Research Centre will work on principles and technologies that are essential to develop revolutionary implantable sensors and monitoring devices to address cardiovascular disease and is an excellent example of the sort of breakthroughs that can come from our trilateral partnership with Science Foundation Ireland and the Department for the Economy.”   Addressing the award, Dr Darragh McArt from QUB, said: “The Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University Belfast is delighted to be involved is such a significant programme and connected to key partners in Ireland and in the US. Our abilities to harness cutting-edge technologies to monitor and alleviate diseases is paramount to our ambition to offer new paradigms for precision medicine.” Professor Mark Lawler, Chair in Translational Cancer Genomics, QUB, added: “QUB has invested heavily in infrastructure and people to address the big data challenges in health. This programme will employ an innovative patient-centered data driven approach that will improve cardiovascular health and will also have relevance for other diseases.”   The invention of various cardiac sensors based on i.e. electrocardiograph (ECG) and blood pressure monitoring, offers new opportunities in cardiovascular diseases prevention through long-term monitoring of vital physiological signals. Work is currently aimed at improving these devices with a view to making the electronic–biological interface as seamless as possible, providing continuous monitoring of patients following surgery, revealing signs of surgical recovery or disease progression. This allows doctors to record physiological performance and deliver treatment, should the patient require urgent life-saving medical attention. Critically, bio-monitoring approaches that identify the synergy among electrophysiological, biochemical, and mechanical markers have been proposed by Dr Biggs as disruptive technologies for next generation solutions to cardiovascular disease.   Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “The US-Ireland R&D Partnership Programme is a unique, cross-jurisdiction initiative, which fosters excellent scientific discovery. I congratulate Dr Biggs and his collaborators on this award, which highlights the benefit of scientific collaboration between researchers on the island of Ireland and across the Atlantic.”

Monday, 25 February 2019

NUIGalway and Ward and Burke Construction Ltd completes major international project to tackle wastewater sewer overflows in rivers and estuaries Researchers from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway and the Galway-based civil engineering construction contractor Ward and Burke Construction Ltd, have completed a major sewer infrastructure project to tackle ongoing environmental issues associated with combined sewer overflows (CSOs). The partnership recently scooped a major prize for this project; Technical Innovation of the Year Award, at the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards 2018. The academic-industry partnership was established to design and validate novel structures to alleviate wastewater discharges from combined sewer overflows which is a major source of pollution in rivers and estuaries in Ireland and abroad. This involved the design and build of a major new state-of-the-art model testing facility at NUI Galway, spanning the entire length of the laboratory, which is one of the largest in the country. One of their super sewer designs is currently well underway on the Thames River in London and is expected to reduce the overall project costs by approximately €3.4 million and project delivery time by 25%. (Video of scaled model of combined sewer overflow structure at NUI Galway here: Environmental Concerns With populations set to grow by 30% in the next 30 years and climate change resulting in warmer temperatures, more frequent rainfall events and sea level rise, challenges in the water and wastewater engineering sector are greater than ever. Larger populations mean more water usage resulting in larger volumes of wastewater to treat, which in turn means greater costs for wastewater transport, storage and treatment. In addition, increased surface water run-off from the development of new housing and urban areas is being further augmented by climate change impacts of more frequent and intense rainfall and flooding events. Sandwiched between such irrepressible pressures is an already stressed and ageing water and wastewater infrastructure which is calling for innovative measures, leading-edge design and interdisciplinary collaborations between engineers in the field and engineers in research institutes to establish a climate resilient future for our infrastructure and economies. Existing Ageing Wastewater Collection Systems - a 150-year old Technology One of the most pressing environmental concerns for existing wastewater collection systems is their pollution of receiving waterbodies such as rivers and estuaries. One of the chief contributors to this problem is the combined sewer system, a 150-year old technology which was designed to collect and convey both rain water and raw sewage in one pipe. As these pipe systems fill with rain water running off houses and street pavements, these old systems tend to fill quickly and overflow to natural water bodies before reaching treatment plants. In years gone by, this approach was efficient and perhaps even acceptable. However, with ageing infrastructure not designed to cope with the stresses of modern day urban activity, natural watercourses are more frequently experiencing the discharge of raw wastewater from combined sewer overflows after only short spells of rain. Combined sewer overflows are considered by Patrick Decker (CEO of Xylem) to be one of the three major pain points currently in the water industry. Combined Sewer Overflow Structures The solution to this problem is to build so-called combined sewer overflow interception structures. The interception structure functions by capturing the wastewater before it discharges from a combined sewer overflow to the environment and redirects it to a wastewater treatment plant often via deep tunnel conveyance systems. Due to the complex patterns of urban growth combined with existing river systems, no interception structure site is the same and they therefore often require innovative design approaches.  Sean Mulligan, project manager and co-principal investigator from NUI Galway, said: “Unseen to the eyes of the public, raw sewage overflows occur continuously throughout the year. For example, 32 million tonnes of wastewater is released to the river Thames in London, while in the US, three billion tonnes of wastewater is released to rivers through combined sewer overflows annually. The effect is continuous significant damage to a river or estuary’s health, not to mention implications to public wellbeing. Given the ageing condition of these old sewer systems coupled with more stringent discharge regulation, the only solution is to intercept the overflows before discharge to the river and convey them to a treatment plant for cleaning. The research on these structures that our team has undertaken at NUI Galway has a massive impact on our day-to-day lives, that’s what makes it very interesting, challenging and worthwhile.” Michael Ward, director of Ward and Burke and a former NUI Galway graduate, said: “Civil engineering is an art and a science, contractors build infrastructure and train young engineers in the process, universities educate them, collaboration between the practitioners and academics is very productive for both parties. In the long run there is a residual when future students use the apparatus. Great engineers don’t stop learning in practice and smart construction continues to learn first and lasting principals.” Colin O’Neill, a part-time Master’s student at NUI Galway and design engineer at Ward and Burke Construction provided an essential link between academia and industry for this project being involved extensively in the model build and testing. Mr O’Neill adds: “Having an appreciation of the challenges involved in the construction of heavy civil projects from working in the industry, coupled with the skills I learnt from my Masters, was essential for me to work on a research project such as this and help bridge the gap between the industry and research.” With a growing economy and the growing emergence of the ‘smart city’ concept, it is more important than ever to bridge the gap that has developed between laboratory research and engineering in the field. Collaborations such as this between academia and industry are crucial to solving engineering challenges. Eoghan Clifford, co-principal investigator of the project and senior lecturer at NUI Galway said: “This project and indeed, the success at the Engineers Ireland Excellence Awards, shows the need for novel solutions for challenges facing the water sector. In particular, with challenges such as climate change and demographics putting pressure on infrastructure, NUI Galway is delighted to work with innovative Irish companies such as Ward and Burke to design and test solutions to large infrastructural projects. The development of this large scale model shows the way forward for how new, sustainable and cost-effective engineering solutions can be developed and tested against various scenarios that may occur in 50 to 100 years’ time.” NUI Galway lecturer and co-principal investigator, Stephen Nash, added: “The project highlights the importance of having world-class laboratories and researchers. The expertise of our research group and technical support staff and space afforded by our hydraulics lab has led to a number of collaborations with engineering companies like Ward and Burke to assess new technology or test engineering solutions. This type of work helps NUI Galway to provide a first-class teaching experience to its students where they can learn from the real engineering projects that our staff are heavily engaged in.”

Friday, 15 February 2019

NUI Galway student, Edel Browne has been named on the prestigious Forbes ‘30 Under 30’ Europe list for 2019. At 21 years old Edel is the youngest honouree in this year’s Science and Healthcare category. She has recently graduated from NUI Galway with a Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology and is currently an EY Scholar pursuing an MSc in Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development (TechInnovation), at the University. The list features 30 honourees across 10 categories, all of whom are under 30 years old. Among those featured alongside Edel on this year’s list include actor, Daniel Radcliffe; musician, George Ezra and Irish rugby player, Peter O’Mahony. Edel was recognised for her work on a project called Free Feet Medical, a device for people with Parkinson’s disease, which began as a project for the BT Young Scientist Exhibition. She has also participated in the Washington Ireland Program, and has been heavily involved in student entrepreneurship at NUI Galway, where she has acted as Student Entrepreneur in Residence at LaunchPad, NUI Galway’s campus-based entrepreneurship program for the past three years. During her time with LaunchPad, Edel has been supported to develop her Free Feet business which addresses clinical challenge of treating Parkinson’s Disease and to also encourage other budding campus entrepreneurs. Under 30 honourees are judged on leadership and disruption; entrepreneurial mind-set and results; and the likelihood of changing their field over the next half-century. “Four years on from its launch, the 30 Under 30 Europe list continues to be not only the defining measure of success for the region’s next generation of leaders, but also a source of empowerment for all honorees,” said Alex Wood, Europe Editor at Forbes. “We’ve searched throughout Europe to identify 300 of the most revolutionary entrepreneurs, innovators and disruptors in ten diverse sectors, who are changing the game throughout the region and across the globe.” Congratulating Edel NUI Galway President, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said: “Edel’s selection on this impressive list of ‘30 Under 30’ is a wonderful endorsement of her talent and acumen. Here at her alma mater, we are proud of her achievements and we look forward to her continued success. She stands as an example to all students of how to make a difference ‘in’ the world and ‘for’ the world. Her ingenuity, intellectual curiosity and entrepreneurial skill combine to address the global challenge of Parkinson’s disease. And as an entrepreneur she has inspired and mentored many student innovators here at NUI Galway and far beyond.” Edel said: “It is a huge honour to be included in the Forbes 30U30 this year, since coming to NUI Galway in 2016 I have been hugely supported in every aspect of my journey both academically and through the LaunchPad with Free Feet Medical.  I am thrilled to represent the University and my city on the list.” -Ends-

Thursday, 14 February 2019

Three MedTrain research projects at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway have been selected for inclusion in the European Commission's Innovation Radar as ‘Key Innovators’. The aim of the Innovation Radar platform is to make information about EU-funded innovations from high-quality projects visible and accessible to the public in one place on a new platform. This will show citizens the many excellent technological and scientific advances being delivered by researchers and innovators around Europe, funded on their behalf by the European Commission. This initiative has the support of EU Members States and so far Ministers from 21 countries have signed the Innovation Radar declaration confirming their support for this initiative. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, said: “The Innovation Radar platform presents a valuable opportunity for our researchers to highlight the potential impact of their work. Making research information accessible to a wide public audience is a core element of the CÚRAM ethos. We welcome the inclusion of three of our research projects in the platform and hope to contribute more widely to the space in future.” The first of the awarded projects is being carried out by Dr Elaine Waters, supervised by Dr Michelle Kilcoyne, and will address the issue of biofilm infections of medical devices which resist antibiotics, causing devices to be replaced, thereby increasing hospital stays. It will develop new tissue-friendly carbohydrate coatings to prevent biofilm infections of implanted devices. The second project, led by Dr James Wilson, supervised by Dr Andreas Heise, will design a flexible, yet strong soft tissue implantable wet adhesive for tissue repair and regeneration. This technology represents the next generation of fully biodegradable bioadhesives with enhanced wet adhesion properties for the development of new clinical materials and advanced approaches in healthcare. The third of the awarded projects is led by Dr Tania Hidalgo Crespo, supervised by Dr Caitriona O’Driscoll, and will develop a novel, safe and effective drug delivery system. Successful delivery of therapeutic levels of siRNA to the brain, using this novel system, will facilitate the treatment of a wide range of neurodegenerative disease such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression and brain tumours. The projects are being developed under the Horizon 2020 project MedTrain, a new Industry-Academia Training, Career Development, and Mobility Fellowship Programme in Medical Device Research and Development at CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway. MedTrain offers two-year fellowships to experienced researchers in the broad area of Medical Device Research and Development, including: tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, biomaterials and drug delivery, glyco and protein engineering and neuromodulation. Information about each of the three MedTrain projects at CÚRAM included on the platform are accessible to the public via the new Innovation Radar platform, (accessed via a website or a smartphone app - iOS or Android).

Monday, 11 February 2019

Expansion announced by Minister Heather Humphreys, TD and supported by Enterprise Ireland  Irish Technology start-up, Joulica, has today announced a significant expansion of its operations headquartered in Galway, creating 45 new jobs over three years. The jobs form part of Joulica’s growth strategy reinforcing Galway’s position as the driving force of Ireland’s Information and Communication Technology industry. The announcement was made today at Joulica’s headquarters at NUI Galway by Heather Humphreys, Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, together with Joulica CEO Tony McCormack and Mark Christal, Regional Entrepreneurship Manager at Enterprise Ireland. The development is supported by the Government through Enterprise Ireland’s Research, Development and Innovation Fund. Founded in 2016 and based in the Business Innovation Centre on the campus of NUI Galway, Joulica has grown rapidly and enjoyed strong commercial success based on its expertise in the Customer Experience domain, real-time analytics and cloud-native software development. The high-skill jobs announced today will add 45 to the existing 25 staff currently employed by Joulica. Joulica is seeking experts in software, data analytics and business development to serve new product development opportunities in the US and Europe. Speaking at the announcement, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, TD, said: “I am delighted to be here at Joulica’s HQ today to announce 45 new highly-skilled jobs in Galway. This time last year, Joulica had 11 employees. Since then, they have increased that number to 25, and over the next three years, they will increase it again to 70. This wonderful achievement is a testament to the innovation and dedication of the team. Companies like Joulica are vital components of a robust regional economy, something that the Government is committed to supporting. I would like to congratulate Tony McCormack, Joseph Smyth, Diarmuid Leonard and the team at Joulica on this remarkable achievement and wish them every success as their business continues to grow.” Speaking at today’s announcement, Tony McCormack, CEO of Joulica said: “Today marks a significant landmark for Joulica and demonstrates the depth of talent available to innovative technology start-ups establishing R&D centers in Galway city. The success we have enjoyed to-date is a testament to the world-class talent and exceptional skills of the Joulica team, together with the unwavering support provided by Enterprise Ireland, our advisors and mentors.   From its inception, Joulica has been fortunate to work with global customers who are at the forefront of the digital transformation revolution. This opportunity combined with a deep understanding of the requirements that Enterprise customers place on high-scale, resilient software solutions gives Joulica a unique edge when it comes to accelerating innovation in large-scale Enterprises.” Mark Christal, Manager – Regions and Entrepreneurship, Enterprise Ireland said: “Innovation and being competitive is crucial for Irish start-ups to grow and build scale both here and on an international level. It is becoming increasingly clear that businesses are facing uncertainties and challenges that could impact their growth, and Joulica is an excellent example of a company that has stayed on the pulse and identified solutions to allow them to scale in international markets and realise their global ambition. At Enterprise Ireland, we are committed to supporting regionally-based companies like Joulica to plan, innovate and compete and we look forward to continuing our work with Tony and the team on their growth trajectory.”

Monday, 11 February 2019

Funding will support exploring commercial opportunities in ovarian and breast cancer, an autonomous lifeguard and search system, macroalgae health benefits and high blood pressure Five research projects from NUI Galway have received almost €600,000 from Science Foundation Ireland’s Technology Innovation Development Award (TIDA) programme. The programme provides project development funding and training in entrepreneurship skills to third-level researchers. Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, and Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, this week announced €4.5 million in funding for 38 research projects to support the commercialisation of government-funded research. The researchers will demonstrate if their applied research project is technically feasible, and has the potential for further commercial development. NUI Galway Research Projects: Dr Eimear Dolan, Biomedical Engineer, College of Engineering and Informatics – Awarded €129,995 for the ‘ImmunoCell’ project, an implantable device to help immune cells fight ovarian cancer tumours. Professor Michael Madden and Dr Enda Barrett, Information Technology – Awarded €124,367 for the ‘ALIVE (Autonomous LIfeguard and Vision Environment)’ project, an autonomous lifeguard and search system using computer vision and machine learning techniques to accurately detect people in noisy aquatic environments. Dr Adrienne Gorman, Apoptosis Research Centre, School of Natural Sciences – Awarded €128,440 for the ‘RIPK2 inhibitor’ project, validating promising protein inhibitors, as a new therapeutic option in triple negative breast cancer. Professor Mark Johnson, Ryan Institute and School of Natural Sciences – Awarded €123,956 for the ‘Blooms2Feeds+2’ project to develop processed seaweeds for blending into fish feeds in salmon aquaculture. The aim is to generate health benefits in both fish (welfare) and humans (nutrition, through higher salmon quality). Dr Haroon Zafar, College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences – Awarded €91,205 for the ‘Smart Renal Denervation’ project to develop the feasibility of a novel device to provide real-time feedback to clinicians to verify the successful operation of Renal denervation to treat high blood pressure not controlled by medication. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President of Research at NUI Galway, said: “Our university has a great track record in knowledge transfer and research commercialisation. Our five new projects demonstrate this drive to maximize the impact of ideas and technology generated by our research. The depth and breadth of innovative technologies reflect the strengths of our region such as ICT, MedTech and marine.” Speaking of the awards, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, said: “I am delighted to announce the recipients of the SFI TIDA Awards and commercialisation support for 38 research projects. The programme is aligned with a number of key Government strategies including Innovation 2020, the National Policy Statement on Entrepreneurship in Ireland and Project Ireland 2040. It will develop important entrepreneurship skills and commercialisation capabilities, ensuring Ireland maintains its position as a leader in cutting-edge research.” Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “Science Foundation Ireland is committed to investing in the translation of world-class research from the laboratory to market. A key objective is to increase the number and quality of discoveries that have strong economic impact potential, that can secure follow-on public or private investment. The TIDA programme plays a key role in this process by providing funding to develop technologies, as well as fostering entrepreneurship skills among our research community.” Researchers funded through the TIDA programme will also participate in the new SFI Spark Pre-Accelerator, which is an intensive five-day programme delivered by the DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurs. This will support STEM researchers to develop skills in areas such as evidence-based entrepreneurship, innovation and design thinking and facilitates mentoring and networking.  

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

A new wave of Medtech companies supported by NUI Galway’s BioExel programme, Ireland’s first Medtech accelerator continues following the success of 2018 cohort Following on from the success of the inaugural 2018 NUI Galway BioExel programme, a second successful recruitment campaign was completed last December. A high calibre of applications were reviewed from across the globe and the final eight companies are now immersed in the 2019 BioExel accelerator programme.  BioExel offers €95,000 in seed funding to successful applicants along with six-months of intensive training, mentoring, lab space and supported interactions with potential investors. The programme allows participants to build and commercially validate their technologies by working with existing entrepreneurial networks, mentors and management team. BioExel is managed by MedTech Director, Dr Sandra Ganly, also a co-founder of BioInnovate Ireland and Senior Research Fellow in NUI Galway, and Fiona Neary, Commercial Director and co-founder of BioExel, and Innovation Operations Manager at NUI Galway. Fiona Neary at NUI Galway, said: “BioExel’s mission is to act as an honest broker between Medtech start-ups and the investment community bridging the gap between technology de-risking and raising investment. BioExel has positioned itself as an internationally recognised Medtech accelerator with the reputation of significantly enhancing indigenous Medtech start-ups by providing attractive seed investment funding and a pipeline of next generation Medtech start-up’s for Ireland.” Joe Healy, HPSU Divisional Manager, Enterprise Ireland, said: “Ireland has a growing reputation in MedTech start-ups and the west of Ireland is renowned globally as a top medical device cluster. The sector is an important contributor to our economic growth and BioExel is uniquely positioned to provide essential support for the new innovative start-ups in this sector. We are delighted to continue our support for the programme, and the companies who take part as they take their first steps towards building scale and expanding their reach.” Joined by the funding partners last month at NUI Galway, the programme officially launched the new cohort of BioExel 2019 and enabled a great working session where partners and participants came together to share experiences and business opportunities. BioExel 2019 Companies: Áine Behan and Fred Herrera, CortechsConnect Ltd, an Irish based company developing a non-pharmacological Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) intervention. Visit: Declan Trumble, Kudos Health, an Irish based company developing a Health and Wellness engagement platform. Visit: Idicula Mathew, Hera Health Solutions, a US based company developing a Biodegradable Female Contraceptive Implant. Visit: Chris Duke and Michael Newell, Lifestyle Medical, an Irish based company developing Knee kinematics performance and rehabilitation technology. Liam McMorrow, Adelie Health, a UK technology and new Irish start-up, developing an innovative Smart Insulin Pen. Visit: Blaine Doyle, Glow Dx, an Irish company with an export market in place developing an Infectious Disease Diagnostic Platform. Visit: Rory Clerkin and Morris Black, Holywood Medical, an Irish based company developing Migraine prediction assay (predicts the onset of migraine) for preventative medicine in this space. Visit: Damien Kilgannon, Sula Health, an Irish based company developing a solution in the area of Circadian Rhythm (Sleep) Disorder Treatment. Visit: This new cohort of companies will take part in the BioExel accelerator programme until June 2019, preparing them to be investor ready or to have investment in place. BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Western Development Commission, Galway University Foundation, Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, and hosted by NUI Galway. For additional information please contact the BioExel team at or phone 087 6226240 or visit: -Ends-

Monday, 28 January 2019

CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices based at NUI Galway will be involved in three key industry projects worth almost €5 million (€4.8 million) following the recent announcement of the Government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. CÚRAM teams, in collaboration with industry partners, will be driving disruptive innovation on the key areas of medtech and connected health. Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director at CÚRAM in NUI Galway, said: “This funding of €4.8 million to CÚRAM research labs is a strong recognition of our pivotal role in the development of the next generation of medical devices and implants that target chronic illnesses. This funding is also a reflection of the close collaborative relationship we have with key industry partners with whom we will continue to work closely with on the development of these disruptive technology projects.” Partnered with industry, the AURIGEN project will see €5.9 million being invested in a solution for persistent Atrial fibrillation of the heart. Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common heart rhythm disturbance in the US and Europe, significantly affecting the lives of those afflicted, causing symptoms that range from palpitations to fatigue, weakness and activity intolerance, and substantially increasing the risks of stroke, congestive heart failure, dementia and death. The consortium of AuriGen Medical (a BioInnovate Ireland spin out based at NUI Galway), the Translational Medical Device (TMD) Lab at NUI Galway and Tyndall, UCC have unique experience, expertise and proprietary technologies, which place this group in an unprecedented position to deliver a uniquely effective therapy capable of addressing both the stroke and arrhythmia risk associated with Atrial fibrillation.  The second project also sees the TMD-Lab partnering on the SMART CARDIO research project with AtriAN Medical who are also based at NUI Galway. The team will seek to develop and optimise ablation technologies for the minimally invasive treatment of particular cardiac disorders.   Dr Martin O’Halloran, Director of the TMD-Lab at NUI Galway, said: “These exciting research projects with a combined value to the TMD-Lab of almost €2 million are further evidence of NUI Galway establishing itself as a world-leader in ablation medical technology. The funding will bring an additional 10 senior post-doctoral ablation engineers to Galway, and in collaboration with our industry partners, will drive significant employment in the sector. The research will draw on expertise from both Engineering (Dr Adnan Elahi) and Medicine (Dr Atif Shahzad and Dr Leo Quinlan) from NUI Galway to deliver these disruptive technologies.” The third project, ARDENT II will create a new therapy for patients suffering from rhinitis, an inflammatory disease which presents as nasal congestion, rhinorrhoea, sneezing and nasal itching. Congestion and rhinorrhoea are the two most impactful symptoms on a patient’s quality of life, which are usually present lifelong. Affecting tens of millions of patients worldwide, an effective treatment does not exist for moderate or severe suffers, creating a multi-billion-euro opportunity for disruptive technologies. A consortium of Neurent Medical Ltd (a BioInnovate Ireland spin out) and the Biggs lab at CÚRAM will benefit from the €2.8 million in Disruptive Technologies Innovation Funding which will be invested in the development of a new medical device technology, to address this inflammatory nasal condition through an innovative neuromodulation approach. Dr Manus Biggs from CÚRAM at NUI Galway, said: “We are excited to work with Neurent Medical on the development of a novel approach to a significant global medical challenge. The commitment of the Irish government to the development of forward thinking disruptive technologies has the potential to place Ireland at the forefront of biomedical engineering research and development.” The Government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, setup as part of the Project Ireland 2040 capital investment plan, aims to provide finance to projects that tackle national and global challenges in a way that will create and secure jobs into the future. -Ends-

Thursday, 24 January 2019

NUI Galway has been awarded almost €420,000 in funding for developing new technology for faster clinical detection and diagnosis of bacterial infections such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a key cause of mortality in Cystic Fibrosis patients. Dr Joseph Byrne from NUI Galway received his award as part of a government investment of €10.8 million in Irish research funding through Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) Starting Investigator Research Grant (SIRG), announced by Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, Pat Breen TD. With awards ranging from €376,000 to €425,000 over four years, the projects funded will support 20 researchers and a further 20 PhD students in the research areas of health, energy, environment, materials and technology. Many disease-causing bacteria produce proteins, which are known to interact with sugar molecules. These interactions will allow the design of useful sensors. Dr Byrne’s research will develop novel devices that will indicate the presence of specific bacteria through colour changes, caused by the interactions of their proteins with laboratory-produced sugar-based chemical compounds on the surface of newly-designed materials. This will provide a convenient visual strategy to identify disease-causing bacteria. 3D-printing will be used to create these compact diagnostic devices, which will benefit patient outcomes and quality of life. This new technology could also be deployed in other scenarios such as detecting bacterial contamination of water supplies. Speaking about his funding award, Dr Joseph Byrne from NUI Galway, said: “Rapid diagnosis of bacteria is vital to inform appropriate medical treatment strategies and combat increasing antibiotic resistance globally. By providing a new methodology for rapid diagnosis of bacterial infection, my work will facilitate quicker decision-making on targeted medical treatment strategies for patients. In Ireland this would be particularly valuable for rapid diagnosis of Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections, a significant risk factor for cystic fibrosis patients (as well as others with compromised immune systems). More generally, helping clinicians avoid the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics would help combat the global challenge of increased antibiotic resistance.”    Speaking about the awards, Minister Breen said: “I am delighted to announce these SFI Starting Investigator Awards which allow researchers to advance their work and further develop their careers as the next research leaders in Ireland and internationally. These innovative projects demonstrate the impressive cutting-edge research taking place across Ireland, which has significant potential to positively advance Ireland’s economy and society, and further solidify its reputation as a world-leader in scientific advancements.” Welcoming the announcement, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “Science Foundation Ireland supports researchers at every stage of their careers. The SIRG awards help early-career researchers develop the essential skills and experience necessary to lead Ireland’s future research in areas such as health, energy, materials and technology. Having passed through a rigorous competitive international merit review process, these projects continue to advance Ireland’s international research. A native of Newbridge, Co. Kildare, Dr Joseph Byrne joins the School of Chemistry and CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, following a Marie Curie Research Fellowship at Universität Bern, Switzerland. His main research focus is developing new technology for faster clinical diagnosis of bacterial infections by exploiting interactions between biomolecules and the innovative sensor materials, which will be designed during the course of this SIRG project. The research will be multidisciplinary, building on fundamental chemistry and biochemical interactions to develop diagnostic devices using 3D-printing technology.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Study Finds Wearable Electronic Device May Reduce Mobility Issues in Parkinson’s Disease Wednesday, 23 January, 2018: Engineers and scientists at NUI Galway in collaboration with clinical professionals from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) have carried out a clinical study which has produced promising results for people with Parkinson’s disease with mobility issues. The research found that ‘fixed’ rhythmic sensory electrical stimulation (sES) designed to prevent Freezing of Gait (movement abnormality), significantly reduced the time taken for a person with Parkinson’s disease to complete a walking task and the number of ‘Freezing of Gait’ episodes which occurred, helping them to walk more effectively. The study involved a group of people with Parkinson’s testing how effective the sES electronic device was in helping them to manage this debilitating motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease. The findings of the study were published in the Journal of Healthcare Engineering. Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin and the research team from the Human Movement Laboratory in CÚRAM at NUI Galway have a programme of research developing a suite of unobtrusive, wearable electronic devices to help manage this debilitating motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease. As part of this work, the project team have developed a novel wearable electronic device worn around the waist, called ‘cueStim’, designed to prevent or relieve Freezing of Gait, commonly described by people with Parkinson’s, as a feeling as if their feet are stuck or glued to the floor preventing them from moving forward. The condition gained prominence recently when Billy Connolly spoke of his fear of being unable to move freely on stage in his documentary Made in Scotland. Speaking candidly about the abnormality, the much loved comedian said: “I didn’t know how standing there would feel...I discovered that I got kinda rooted to the spot and became afraid to move. Instead of going away to the front of the stage and prowling along the front the way I used to do I stood where I was.” NUI Galway Co-investigator, Dr. Leo Quinlan, from Physiology in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “These results are very encouraging as they show that cueStim reduced Freezing of Gait episodes and the time to complete a walking task in an independent clinical assessment with a pilot home-based study carried out by NHSGGC.” Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, said: “We are now seeking additional clinical partners to work with NUI Galway in carrying out a comprehensive long-term clinical evaluation of cueStim in enhancing the quality of life of people with Parkinson’s disease through a funded programme of research.” The clinical study was designed by Dr Anne-Louise Cunnington, Consultant Geriatrician and Ms Lois Rosenthal, Movement Disorder Specialist and Highly Specialised Physiotherapist, both from NHSGGC, and involved the participants completing a home based self-identified walking  Ms Lois Rosenthal, NHSGGC, said: “Freezing of gait is one of the most frustrating and difficult symptoms for patients to suffer and specialists to treat. This common feature of Parkinson’s is not improved by Parkinson’s medications, and is inconsistently responsive to cueing techniques trialled by physiotherapists. This collaboration between NUI Galway and NHSGGC explored a novel intervention and results were very encouraging. We now need a larger scale study to further evaluate effectiveness and real-life practicality.” The cueStim system was developed by Dean Sweeney as part of his PhD studies in the Discipline of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at NUI Galway. The results provide evidence that sensory electrical stimulation cueing delivered in a “fixed” rhythmic manner has the potential to be an effective cueing mechanism for Freezing of Gait prevention. The study was jointly funded by Science Foundation Ireland and the Framework 7 programme of the European Commission and was carried out in collaboration with Stobhill Hospital and Glasgow Royal Infirmary within NHSGGC. To read the full study in the Journal of Healthcare Engineering, visit:

Friday, 21 December 2018

In a very successful year for innovation during 2018, NUI Galway start-ups secured €35 million between private equity investment and research funding while the 36 companies based at the University’s Business Innovation Centre now employ 173 people, which represents an increase of 20% over 2017. The year also saw NUI Galway sign over 60 project agreements with industry (Irish SME’s and multinationals) contributing across a wide range of areas including: advanced healthcare diagnostics and device, additive manufacturing, food nutrition, energy optimisation, and Internet of Things enabled solutions. Over 2,200 staff and students were actively engaged through the University’s entrepreneurship experiential learning and mentorship programmes to produce projects ranging from storybook development and publishing to apps designed to aid people with disabilities find more accessible parking facilities close to their location. David Murphy, Director of NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre, commented: “We have a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem among our students and staff which we support through a range of commercialisation, experiential learning, and support programmes. There are significant benefits to society and the economy from the innovations that are seeded, researched, developed and implemented right here on campus. The number of start-ups and industry collaborations based on high-quality research is a very good indication of the level of entrepreneurism at the University and in the region.” Supporting Start-Ups and Industry The recent government announcement on the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF), part of Project Ireland 2040, saw NUI Galway participate on eight projects. Five NUI Galway start-ups were supported through DTIF with a total of €16 million in funding. These companies were AuriGen Medical, Neurent Medical, Onkimmune, Atrian Medical, and Signum Surgical. Three of the companies had come through the BioInnovate Ireland programme which is based at NUI Galway and is creating a wave of new companies finding solutions for unmet medical needs. NUI Galway won a special recognition award in the Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Awards in May 2018 for its work with BioInnovate Ireland. 2018 also saw the first cohort of six companies complete the BioExel MedTech Accelerator programme in June while a new cohort of eight companies started in December. BioExel is a partnership funded by Enterprise Ireland, Galway University Foundation, the Western Development Commission and Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, originated and delivered by an experienced MedTech team at NUI Galway.  The first cohort of companies in BioExel were: BioProbe Diagnostics, Bluedrop Medical, Giant Leap Biotechnology, Hidramed Solutions, Immunogrow and CompanionQMS.  Supporting Students and Staff Among NUI Galway staff, students and alumni, new ideas and entrepreneurship is encouraged and supported at every level. The EXPLORE programme is where staff and students collaborate on innovative ideas. In 2018 it supported 15 new projects, involving 61 staff and 42 students. Current projects focus on a variety of topics including Frankenstein, bat boxes, modernist studies and ‘fake news’ surrounding cancer and its risk factors. NUI Galway’s Blackstone LaunchPad supports entrepreneurship across campus. Last April, in partnership with BioInnovate Ireland, BioExel, Health Innovation Hub and the Translational Medical Device Lab, Blackstone LaunchPad held its annual MedTech start-up competition (MIDAS). This one-day multidisciplinary competition brought together undergraduate and postgraduate students to work on an unmet clinical need and present potential solutions to a panel of judges in the MedTech space. The day was hugely successful with a team of students mentored by Barry McCann, a BioInnovate Ireland Fellow, taking home first prize. In November, two NUI Galway start-up companies travelled to the US to take part in a TechStars Bootcamp programme. NUI Galway was represented by BioInnovate Ireland spin- out Nua Surgical with their project SteriCision and BladeComp, a spin-out project of the SFI MaREI centre based in the College of Engineering and Informatics. Jacinta Thornton, Associate Director of NUI Galway’s Innovation Office, added: “Our University puts a strong focus on knowledge transfer, entrepreneurship, and enterprise collaboration to maximise the impact of our research and our expertise for the region.” For more information about NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre, visit: -Ends-

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Farmeye turns the sod on a new era in sustainable agriculture Agri-Tech company Farmeye has launched their new Nutrient Management System, the NMP Portal. The online, map-based system, for sustainable soil nutrient management is a tool for Agri-consultants and Agronomists to manage and monitor sustainable fertiliser usage on farms. Farmeye, an NUI Galway spin out company, aim to create 10 new direct jobs and additional spin-out business with their growth over the next three years. Enterprise Ireland funded the company’s initial development work at NUI Galway through a Commercialisation Fund programme. The Commercialisation Fund programme is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund under Ireland’s European Union Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-2020. Company CEO, Dr Eoghan Finneran explained the Farmeye mission: “A huge amount of data is collected on farms and much of that is either lost or misused. For example, half a million soil tests have been taken over the past 10 years and the vast majority of those reports are buried in biscuit tins or lie forgotten in filing cabinets.” Roscommon native, Dr Finneran continued: “Farmeye provide digital solutions to capture that data and put it to work in a practical, usable manner for the soils, for the farmer and for the environment. We in Ireland have a good news story to tell the world about the sustainability of our grass-fed meat and dairy produce, but without efficient management of farm-level data that story gets lost.” Asked what the technology can do for the farmer, Dr Finneran responded: “The Farmeye NMP Portal provides the first digital step to demonstrate sustainable soil management and quantify carbon sequestration. The average Irish dairy farmer could lose €9,000 per year in lost productivity and extra fertiliser bills, solely due to sub-optimal soil fertility. Farmeye provide simple, easy-to-use tools that allow the farmer to make efficient, data-driven decisions on the hoof when it comes to efficient fertiliser and slurry management.” Joe Desbonnet, company CTO and Software Engineer explains how GPS and barcoding formed the basis of the Farmeye SoilMate app. This Android app allows the Agri-consultant to trace every soil test by GPS to the field of origin. It cuts out much of the manual data entry and human error involved in soil sampling and drawing up an NMP. Because we are employing various GIS map layers, including European Sentinel satellite and real-time weather data on our system, we can easily identify regions and periods of high risk for groundwater pollution.” The Farmeye NMP Portal has been approved by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine as an alternative to the Teagasc system for preparation of compliance based Nutrient Management Plans such as derogation plans. This means that Independent Agricultural Consultants can now use Farmeye to prepare 2019 NMPs and fertiliser plans for Nitrates derogation farms, of which there are over 7,000 in Ireland. Company Co-Founder and Business Manager, Brendan Allen added that while the soil management technology is core to the Farmeye business at present, that the Agri-Tech company has broader aims in the medium term. Mr Allen said: “Soil management is just the first step in this process. We have a development plan in Farmeye to become the foremost provider of IT for monitoring and managing sustainability metrics at farm level. And sustainability of our food production is about more than just environmental sustainability. Social and economic sustainability are the other two legs on the sustainability stool and without any of the three, the whole system falls down. For example, increasing farmer age and declining farm incomes across Europe are unsustainable. The key to ensuring a secure and sustainable food supply for the next generation is to put these tools on the farm, to measure these metrics and then take steps to address the weakness in the system, whether that be in nutrient management or food supply-chain management.” Farmeye is also co-funded by the National Digital Research Centre and the NUI Galway start-up phase was funded through the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund. Those involved during the NUI Galway phase included Dr Chaosheng Zhang, School of Geography and Archaeology, and Dr Michael Schukat and Dr Hugh Melvin from the Department of Information and Technology. For more information about Farmeye email or visit: -Ends-

Monday, 17 December 2018

NUI Galway start-up NUA Surgical has been selected to take part in the inaugural LaunchPad Lift Powered by Techstars programme. LaunchPad Lift identifies top-performing university start-ups from across the LaunchPad global network of 20 universities, and pairs them with resources and opportunities to help their ventures succeed. LaunchPad Lift will help bridge the gap between the programming available on each University campus and the next big steps ventures need for their companies and is part of a suite of entrepreneurial programmes offered at NUI Galway. Whether the ventures are planning to apply to an accelerator program, raise capital, or make their first hire, LaunchPad Lift takes ventures through a personalised 10-week experience with an assigned Techstars mentor to help them succeed. NUA Surgical is the only Irish start-up and one of only seven ventures selected through a highly competitive process. As part of the LaunchPad Lift programme, NUA Surgical will receive a $10,000 prize from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation to support strategic efforts that grow and scale their ventures. The seven selected ventures for the 2019 cohort were chosen from across the LaunchPad global network, representing seven schools in four states and two countries. Additionally, over 50% of the start-ups in the 2019 LaunchPad Lift cohort have diverse founding teams. NUA Surgical are developing Stericision, a novel medical device in obstetrics to make caesarean delivery a safer and more superior surgery. The project has received significant support and funding from Enterprise Ireland through the Commercialisation Fund which will assist the team in taking the unmet need from idea through to concept and design development, in preparation for establishing a new MedTech start-up company. NUA Surgical’s founding story began when Barry McCann pursued an unmet clinical need identified during the clinical immersion stage of BioInnovate Ireland where Barry was completing a Fellowship in 2017/2018. Now joined by technical lead Padraig Maher and design control lead Marie Therese Maher, the team have over 50 years combined industry experience, bringing a wealth of knowledge to the project which is based in NUI Galway. Natalie Walsh, Executive Director of LaunchPad NUI Galway, said: “For NUI Galway to be chosen as one of only seven sites to take part in the LaunchPad Lift programme, it further endorses our campus commitment to positive impact in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship. It has been fantastic to work with Barry and his team, the Bioinnovate programme and our broader ecosystem to support entrepreneurship and enhance NUI Galway’s position as a catalyst for innovation regionally, nationally and globally.”   David Cohen, Co-CEO of Techstars, added: “Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars offers campus start-ups valuable on-campus support during a critical time in their entrepreneurial journey. LaunchPad Lift will take this a step further – dedicating additional targeted support to a cohort of the most promising ventures. Techstars wants to be a worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed from inspiration to IPO and we recognise the importance of early guidance.” Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, commented: “I am inspired by the diversity and potential of these entrepreneurs.  LaunchPad Lift, leveraging the expertise of Techstars and Blackstone, will provide an additional boost in their development as entrepreneurs.  Over the past decade of helping the next generation of entrepreneurs launch and grow businesses, we know that mentorship and targeted support is crucial at this stage of venture growth.  Through LaunchPad Lift, we will be able to supercharge campus ventures in a measurable way. ” LaunchPad Lift will run for 10 weeks, from January 28 through April 1, 2019. Upon completion of the program, each participating venture joins the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and Techstars team at a closing event in New York City. The programme at NUI Galway is funded by NUI Galway, Galway University Foundation and Blackstone Charitable Foundation. -Ends-

Tuesday, 4 December 2018

NUI Galway students and staff recently gathered to celebrate the achievements of the Galway Energy-Efficient Car (the Geec) and in particular to mark its Technical Innovation Award win at SEM Europe 2018. For five years running, the Geec has offered a vision of cleaner transport, and it is now established in the international top tier for energy-saving motoring. The car is designed, built and tested by NUI Galway students from Mechanical, Electrical and Electronic, Electronic and Computer, and Energy Systems Engineering. Engineering students develop the car as part of their engineering studies, and also devote considerable free time to their creation. Every year since 2015 they have competed in Shell Eco-marathon Europe, where cars race for efficiency rather than speed. The students have improved the design of the three-wheeled electric car year on year. In 2017, the Geec achieved an energy score of 354 kilometres per kilowatt-hour over a 10-lap, 16 kilometre circuit in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London. This is equivalent to around 10,500 miles per gallon of diesel, or driving from Galway to Dublin for 12 cents, and ranked the NUI Galway team 13th out of 41 competitors. The success didn’t stop there - at SEM Europe 2018, the Geec won the Technical Innovation Award for the unique design of a bodywork feature that covers the wheels, and moves as the car steers, streamlining the car and decreasing air resistance substantially. This year, the team hopes to progress even further. A new team is working on a lighter chassis, upgraded electronics, and fine-tuned drivetrain for the 2019 car, mentored by lecturers in the College of Engineering and Informatics, and supported by the engineering technical staff. President of NUI Galway, Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, congratulated all involved, past and present. “This is a great team of students! Our University is proud to have such motivated and dedicated students, whose accomplishments over the past five years have showcased NUI Galway’s internationally-competitive capacities in engineering and our impact in environmental technologies in the world and for the world.  Their talent and ingenuity has been reflected in their success this summer at Shell Eco-marathon Europe and we look forward to further success in the years ahead. With climate change now one of the most pressing challenges facing our planet, the work of finding new energy-efficient transport strategies becomes ever-more important. This is an example of how universities foster the knowledge and talent which can transform our world. Congratulations to our students, supported by the University’s academic, technical and support staff in the College of Engineering and Informatics and the Geec’s industry partners for their pioneering work with the Galway Energy-Efficient Car.” The Geec was sponsored in 2017 and 2018 by the Tony Ryan Trust through Galway University Foundation, Shell E&P Ireland, Jaguar Land Rover, ÉireComposites, MaREI, Blackstone Launchpad, MBW Bike Shop, CADFEM UK & Ireland, Mathworks,, Tocana Plastics, Molex, EasyComposites, and Irish Ferries. Check out for more details on one of Ireland’s greatest green innovations. -Ends-

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Two NUI Galway based start-ups are the main winners of 2018 InterTradeIreland competition  Loci Orthopaedics based at NUI Galway have been crowned the overall winner of the 2018 InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition, taking home a cash prize of €100,000 at the grand final held last weekend in Belfast. The team at Loci Orthopaedics, a BioInnovate Ireland spin out located in the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, has developed an implant for the treatment of thumb base joint arthritis. The implant, InDx, is the first of its kind that fully re-creates the natural motions of the joint post implantation. Commenting on their win, CEO and Co-Founder of Loci Orthopaedics, Brendan Boland, said: “It is an absolutely fantastic feeling to win the overall award at the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn 2018 final. The competition has been an incredibly challenging and rewarding experience, and we would like to thank the judges and organisers for the expert advice and constructive feedback provided along the way. The prize money will prove invaluable in supporting our orthopaedic joint implant ‘InDx’ at such a crucial stage in its development and will allow us to invest in securing additional personnel and provide further support for expansion.” The other main winner on the night was HidraMed Solutions also based at NUI Galway, who won the Best New Start Category award and a cash prize of €50,000. HidraMed Solutions was one of the cohorts who completed the 2017-2018 BioExel MedTech Accelerator programme delivered by NUI Galway. Hidramed Solutions has developed a unique wound care solution for people who suffer from Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS), an inflammatory skin disease that causes draining lesions and non-healing wounds. Business founder, Suzanne Moloney is a HS patient and has spent 5 years researching and developing the product. CEO and Founder of Hidramed Solutions, Suzanne Moloney, NUI Galway, said: “We are thrilled to win the Best New Start Category Award, it is a real honour. The €50,000 cash prize will help us take our proposition to the next level and the entire Seedcorn process has offered us a platform to refine our business plan and our company offering, which has been a hugely beneficial experience for us.” Now in its 16th year, Seedcorn is Ireland’s biggest business competition for innovative new start and early stage businesses in any sector, from any part of the island. As well as a substantial cash prize fund, participants benefit from promotional, business planning workshops and mentorship support throughout the competition.  Congratulating the winners, Ken Nelson MBE, InterTradeIreland Chairman, said: “Seedcorn recognises and nurtures entrepreneurship, innovation and new ventures, and provides young companies - who are at a critical stage of their development - the opportunity to really put their proposition to the test. The quality of the business plans throughout the competition has been of an extremely high standard, and this year’s participants are testament to the innovation and entrepreneurial excellence of small businesses, North and South. I would like to congratulate Loci Orthopaedics and Hidramed Solutions and wish them every success in the future. We look forward to watching our 2018 winners grow and will be following their development with a keen eye.” To date, InterTradeIreland has supported over 2,300 enterprising companies through the Seedcorn process. With €238 million in new equity being raised by the companies which have reached the regional finals stage of the Seedcorn competition over the past 16 years, the competition has a strong track record of supporting early business start-ups to become investor ready. For more information about Loci Orthopaedics, visit: and for more information on Hidramed Solutions, visit: -Ends-

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Winners of the Inaugural NUI Galway Explore Innovation Awards 2018 Announced   Creating life-like skin, helping disabled drivers and introducing philosophy to children among winning concepts   Thursday, 4 October, 2018: The winners of a new competition to uncover innovative ideas with significant potential to become a business or social enterprise have been announced by NUI Galway.   The inaugural ‘Explore Innovation Awards’ uncovered some of the most promising and innovative activity on campus. Winning ideas included: creating life-like skin for use by surgical trainees; helping disabled drivers locate parking spots; and introducing philosophy to primary school children.   NUI Galway staff and students attended a special prize-giving ceremony hosted by the University’s Innovation Office where the winners across the two separate categories for staff and students were announced.   In the student awards category: First prize was awarded to Bronwyn Reid McDermott a Masters student in the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway for her novel innovation “Sutureself’ a simulated skin for advanced surgical trainees. Second prize went to Eoghan Dunne, Eviasmar Almeida and Guilherme Vaz de Melo Trindade, PhD students in the Translational Medical Device Labs in NUI Galway for their project ‘I can see you now’ which seeks to use imaging technology to develop a medical device to improve patient diagnosis for prostate cancer. Third prize was awarded to Aidan Breen, a PhD student in the College of Engineering and Informatics whose social innovation ‘Blue Spots Parking’ aims to help disabled drivers locate accessible parking spots in Ireland. This social innovation project will launch later in 2018.   In the staff awards category: First prize was awarded to Dr Orla Richardson from the Philosophy Discipline at NUI Galway for ‘P4C’. The project works with schools, community groups and organisations that want to think more deeply and effectively, together. Second prize was awarded to researchers Dr Peadar Rooney of CÚRAM, a researcher with CÚRAM, Dr Diana Gaspar of REMODEL, and Joshua Chao of REMEDI. Their project ‘Three Blind Mice’ aims to create Podcasts to promote science communication to non-scientific audiences. Third prize went to Dr Ed Osagie from Insight whose project ‘CDN’ aims to utilise crowd discounts utilising network effect models. Speaking at the event David Murphy, Director of Innovation at NUI Galway said: “The depth and breadth of proposals in these our inaugural Explore Innovation awards shows the diversity and creativity that we have across our campus. These awards give both students and staff the opportunity to flourish and develop their innovative ideas in a supportive, enabling and results driven environment. Over 30 applications to the competition were received and we are delighted to invest close to €10,000 in supporting these early stage ideas. The team will support the students and staff involved through the next stage of their projects.”   NUI Galway has been actively fostering new ideas and supporting over 100 collaborative staff and student projects since 2012 through its EXPLORE programme. EXPLORE is part of a wider innovation ecosystem at NUI Galway, explains David Murphy: “Many of the outputs of NUI Galway’s extensive research portfolio are licensed to industry or leads to a new spin-out company. Our Business Innovation Centre and the wider campus is currently home to over 40 companies, where we provide business supports and excellent facilities including labs and co-working spaces to start-ups. This all feeds into and connects with the wider region, supporting innovation and enterprises here in the west of Ireland.”   For more information about Explore, visit:   -Ends-

Monday, 19 November 2018

Two NUI Galway start-up companies were in the US recently for the second annual Blackstone LaunchPad Powered by TechStars Bootcamp. The programme brought together entrepreneurial teams from across the US and Ireland to take part in an innovation bootcamp with access to world class mentors and content to further accelerate and develop their businesses.  LaunchPad, based on the NUI Galway campus, is a highly experiential entrepreneurship program open to students, alumni and staff offering coaching, ideation and start up creation support. The programme focuses on innovation and entrepreneurial education and training, entrepreneurship events and community building, and provides supports and funding for early stage student start-up companies. As LaunchPad at NUI Galway continues to globalise its programmes, offerings such as this bootcamp give early stage entrepreneurs access to one of the world’s most well-known and respected entrepreneurship accelerators across the world, Techstars. Techstars is a global leader in the startup ecosystem, providing a network with access to over 1.5 million founders, investors and mentors. Over the course of the New York programme NUI Galway start-ups engaged with a diverse mix of mentors, start-ups and potential investors at SAP Next Gen HQ at Hudson Yard in New York. The programme resulted in Bladecomp and Stericision start-ups benefitting from personalised mentoring, unique Techstars expertise and content and support from business leaders including Jean Case from the Case Foundation. SteriCision is a newly funded Enterprise Ireland project developed from the BioInnovate Ireland Fellowship programme based at NUI Galway. The team are developing an innovative medical device to reduce infection following surgery. Barry McCann, Commercial Lead for the project, commented: “Attending the Blackstone Launchpad powered by Techstars event was a tremendous opportunity for us to grow our mentor network and learn from some of the most successful entrepreneurs and investors in the US. We are extremely fortunate to have an entrepreneurship programme such as Launchpad on campus that can accelerate good ideas and bring them to a global platform.” BladeComp is a wind and tidal turbine blade design software. BladeComp provides a faster, easier and more reliable blade design process. The team includes Dr Jamie Goggins, Dr Edward Fagan, Dr Yadong Jiang and Dr William Finnegan from the MaREI Centre, Ryan Institute at NUI Galway. Needing a faster way of modelling blades and a framework for the novel analysis and design techniques developed at NUI Galway, the team built automated design software to meet this need. The team have recently used BladeComp to design next generation tidal turbine blades (among the largest in the world) for a leading tidal turbine manufacturer, Orbital Marine Power Ltd. Edward Fagan of the BladeComp team, commented: “The Techstars event was a fantastic opportunity to get feedback on what we’ve done so far, and advice on how to effectively take our venture forward. The experience, mentorship and guidance we received was more than we could have hoped for. LaunchPad at NUI Galway provide an invaluable service to the development of entrepreneurs at the University”. Speaking at the LaunchPad Global Bootcamp, Natalie Walsh Executive Director of LaunchPad at NUI Galway, said: “It is always inspiring to work alongside early stage entrepreneurships but to work with TechStars in New York City and watch our start up teams flourish and grow through the supports provided has been amazing. We will have unparalleled access to the TechStars network and content and we are very excited about the future of entrepreneurship at NUI Galway.” -Ends-

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Neurent Medical's RF-based Minimally Invasive Rhinitis Therapy Earns Acclaim from Frost & Sullivan  Frost & Sullivan has recognised Neurent Medical with the 2018 European New Product Innovation Award for developing a non-surgical, minimally invasive device that uses radio frequency (RF) to modulate a nerve group to offer relief from nasal obstruction and rhinorrhea. Neurent is an NUI Galway BioInnovate spin-out and earlier this year announced it had raised €9.3 million in a Series A funding round. The company was established by Brian Shields and David Townley who met through NUI Galway’s BioInnovate Ireland Programme with Enterprise Ireland funding the development work at the University through a Commercialisation Fund programme. 2018 European New Product Innovation AwardWith the total annual avoidable expenditure on the European allergy market, not limited to rhinitis, amounting between $50 billion and $150 billion, even back in 2014, Neurent Medical's out-patient device can help customers achieve significant savings by using RF in a highly targeted manner.  The current clinical gold standard approaches to treating chronic ear, nose, and throat infections range from avoiding various environmental triggers, which provides only temporary relief, to invasive surgery, which often requires lengthy recovery periods. Medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, and topical or systemic corticosteroids have limited patient and physician acceptance because of side effects, such as drowsiness, bleeding, drying, and crusting. In more severe cases, surface cautery of enlarged turbinates is performed as an out-patient procedure; however, side effects include edema and crusting in the nose that can last three weeks or longer. In such a scenario, Neurent Medical's single-use device presents exceptional value as it can be used in office settings, and patients can resume normal activity almost immediately after implantation.  "Neurent Medical has based its rhinitis device on its extensive research on neuronal activity in the nasal cavity and the cellular makeup of the nasal mucosa. These guiding principles have enabled the product to stand out as a low-powered RF treatment that targets the autonomic supply to the nasal turbinates, positively impacting both allergic and non-allergic rhinitis," said Arjunvasun, Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. "The device uses a microelectrode array that is designed to deliver targeted energy to interrupt the autonomic function within mucosal structures of the nasal cavities to reverse inflammatory cascade. The device incorporates an intelligent RF generator to maximize the energy delivery to the intended target, while minimizing collateral damage to the sub-mucosal tissues."  Additionally, the device offers substantial cost savings by eliminating patients' dependence on pharmacotherapies and by requiring only a single out-patient procedure.  "Although the application of RF to treat rhinitis has been evaluated through clinical studies, Neurent Medical has pioneered its application in treating inflammation caused by rhinitis," noted Arjunvasun. "Research conducted at the National University of Ireland, Galway supports the claim that Neurent Medical’s solution is truly a game-changing technology for allergy patients worldwide."  Each year, Frost & Sullivan presents this award to the company that has developed an innovative element in a product by leveraging leading-edge technologies. The award recognises the product’s value-added features/benefits and the increased return on investment (ROI) it provides to customers, which, in turn, raises customer acquisition and overall market penetration potential.  Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global markets for demonstrating outstanding achievement and superior performance in areas such as leadership, technological innovation, customer service, and strategic product development. Industry analysts compare market participants and measure performance through in-depth interviews, analysis, and extensive secondary research to identify best practices in the industry.   More information is available from the Frost & Sullivan website. 

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

A New Wave of MedTech companies to be supported by NUI Galway’s BioExel programme, Ireland’s first accelerator programme, following the success of initial cohorts Tuesday, 17 July, 2018: Following on from the success of the initial round of BioExel programme applicants at NUI Galway in 2017-2108, the MedTech Accelerator programme is now accepting applications for the second cohort 2018-2019, with recruitment starting from 20 July to 1 September 2018. Based at NUI Galway, BioExel offers €95,000 in seed funding to successful applicants along with six-months of intensive training, mentoring, lab space and supported interactions with potential investors. The programme allows participants to build and commercially validate their technologies by working with existing entrepreneurial networks, mentors and management team. BioExel is managed by MedTech Director, Dr Sandra Ganly, also a co-founder of BioInnovate Ireland and Senior Research Fellow in NUI Galway, and Fiona Neary, Commercial Director and co-founder of BioExel, and Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway. Fiona Neary at NUI Galway, said: “This first cohort of BioExel candidates have an array of innovations that have grown over the months at a rapid pace, de-risking their technologies and advancing in critical areas of MedTech challenges. BioExel is key to transforming these opportunities as we deliver the next generation of investor ready, first class medical technologies to the marketplace.” The first cohort of companies to complete the 2017-2018 BioExel programme joined a showcase and celebration of Ireland’s MedTech ecosystem in Galway recently, attended by Minister for State Seán Kyne.     The six cohort of companies who have completed the BioExel programme 2017-2018: Bioprobe Diagnostics Ltd. Developing diagnostic products in a new regulated generation of water quality testing. Having spun out of NUI Galway in 2017, Bioprobe Diagnostics has developed a ground-breaking technology to quickly detect Legionella bacteria in water. The water-borne bacteria can lead to the life threatening form of pneumonia known as Legionnaires Disease. Bioprobe Diagnostics’ one-step test is five times faster and 30% cheaper in direct costs than what is currently on the market. The company is currently raising funds and getting ready to launch their product in 2019. Bluedrop Medical Ltd. Predicting and preventing diabetic foot ulcers using computer vision, mapping associated complications and costs. Bluedrop Medical has developed a system for early Diabetic Foot Ulcers detection and patient compliance for health care systems. Daily temperature monitoring has been shown to prevent 70% of ulcers in three randomised controlled trials. Bluedrop Medical has incorporated this technology into a novel home based device, and linked it up with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) remote monitoring system to provide actionable alerts to clinicians, enabling early intervention to prevent diabetic foot ulcers. Diabetic foot ulcers result in over 150,000 amputations per year in Europe. Bluedrop Medical has developed a system that can prevent 70% of them. Giant Leap Biotechnology Ltd. Designing a neuro regenerative product using cellular therapies and biomaterials delivery for spinal cord injury. GiantLeap Biotechnology is an Irish company focused on developing a veterinary therapy for spinal cord injury in canines which is estimated to be a $225 million annual market in the US. The technology has been created over a seven year research period by the founder Martin Codyre. GiantLeap Biotechnology is developing a biomaterial implant that will have protected intellectual property that combines with cells taken from the animal and implanted into the injured spinal cord. Hidramed Solutions Ltd. A wound care kit for effective management of chronic wounds, addressing patients’ unmet needs, providing comfort and adhesive free, secure dressing retention. Hidramed Solutions has developed a patentable two-part wound care kit that dramatically improves the wound care routine for patients. Of specific focus are individuals with Hidradenitis Suppurativa, (HS), a chronic debilitating skin disease. The condition is thought to be underdiagnosed and misdiagnosed, with a prevalence rate of 1-4% of the general population. The locations of the lesions makes it difficult for standard dressings to be worn comfortably and the options available are currently ineffective. Hidramed Solutions aim to transform the day-to-day comfort and quality of lives of suffers of Hidradenitis Suppurativa. Immunogrow Ltd. ImmunoGrow’s New Personalised Cancer Therapy aims to simplify production, thereby reducing costs and enhancing patient safety. Adoptive cell transfer is an anti-cancer approach that enhances the natural cancer-fighting ability of the body’s cells by removing immune system cells, growing and/or making changes to them outside of the body, and then re-infusing them back into the patient. ImmunoGrow aim to simplify production, reduce costs and enhance patient safety. Today, complex manufacturing processes limit the potential of cell-based cancer immunotherapies from the bespoke, operator intensive setting of the academic research lab to a commercially viable, good manufacturing practice-compliant environment. Innunogrow has mimicked in vivo (in the body of a living organism) growth conditions for T Cells (a subtype for white blood cells) by replicating the body’s natural growth conditions. This process improves output, reduces significant risk of invalid cell product, simplifies manufacturing requirement for skilled operator input and is easily integrated into automatic cell processing platforms. CompanionQMS Ltd. CompanionQMS is a cloud-enabled, secure, and scalable solution, delivering superior document management, intelligent workflows and reporting tools in one single interface. Developing QMS bespoke quality management software exclusively for medical device companies. Research has proven the need for an easy to implement and use, competitively priced QMS software. CompanionQMS is quality management software designed for medical device companies that provides a solution to this problem. CompanionQMS will enable companies to streamline product development and compliance while setting new standards for ease of use and flexibility of design. The Western region already has a strong MedTech ecosystem and this is actively supported by the expertise and infrastructure at NUI Galway. The University is home to Ireland’s only centre for stem cell manufacturing, extensive translational and clinical facilities, biomedical sciences research laboratories, and the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices. This is further strengthened by NUI Galway’s expertise in funding grants, knowledge transfer, and programmes such as BioInnovate and BioExel. BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Western Development Commission, Galway University Foundation, Bank of Ireland seed and early stage equity fund, and hosted by NUI Galway. To apply please contact the BioExel team for an application form at or phone 091 493150. For more information, visit: -Ends-

Monday, 9 July 2018

NUI Galway-based medical device spin-out company, Loci Orthopaedics have announced today the closing of a €2.75 million seed round investment to commercialise a new orthopaedic joint implant for a common but crippling joint condition. Loci Orthopaedics is an independent leader in the development of a potentially life-changing, ergonomic, and clinically evidence-based solution to address the increasing unmet clinical need for thumb base joint arthritis. The company is developing the InDx Implant to meet this need and access a market estimated at over €550 million per annum. Arthritis of the thumb base joint causes significant functional impairment of the hand. Those with this condition are either restricted in, or often lose the ability to perform, everyday tasks such as using a mobile phone, turning keys in a door, and even writing due to increasingly severe pain. This unmet clinical need was identified by the co-founders of the company, Dr Brendan Boland a clinician, and Mr Gerry Clarke a medical device industry veteran with over 40 years medical device experience, while they were Fellows on the BioInnovate Ireland Programme, which is co-funded by Enterprise Ireland. During this programme, Brendan and Gerry were based in UCC and undertook several hundred hours of clinical monitoring in Cork University hospitals to identify hundreds of unmet clinical needs, from which the surgical management of thumb base joint arthritis stood out as a particularly significant unmet need with a large affected patient population. Enterprise Ireland funded the development work at NUI Galway through a Commercialisation Fund programme. The Commercialisation Fund programme is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under Ireland’s European Union Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-2020. 5% of the population suffer severe thumb base arthritis. This equates to over 40 million people in the US and EU with significant symptoms. This condition is most common in those aged over 65. As the population of the US and EU ages, the number affected by this debilitating condition is set to increase dramatically in the next 15 years. There are more than 200,000 surgical procedures carried out each year in the EU and the US combined for severe thumb base arthritis. Due to the lack of a reliable and clinically satisfactory solution, there is a wide gap between symptomatic patients and patients currently progressing to surgery, demonstrating the substantial growth potential for new therapy solutions. The total current total addressable surgical market for thumb base arthritis procedures in the US and EU is estimated at over $600 million per annum. This market size is set to increase further due to several concurrent market growth drivers, such as an aging population, an increase in those most affected, and a lack of tolerance of poor hand function. This funding will provide financing for 24 months and will be used to advance product development in preparation for clinical trials, initiation of US commercialisation, initiation of EU regulatory approval, clinical follow-up and regulatory approval by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr Brendan Boland, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Loci Orthopaedics, said: “Securing this seed round funding will put Loci Orthopaedics firmly on track to achieve the short and medium-term goals required towards getting this product to market to relieve the daily suffering of many patients.” Mr Gerry Clarke, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Loci Orthopaedics, said: “Thumb base arthritis has a huge impact on the quality of life, and on the independence of patients as they age. Can you imagine having pain on simple day to day tasks such as turning keys in a door, opening a jar, or using your phone? This is the prospect faced by millions of people who are restricted in their daily activities and enjoyment of life. It is these patients we want to help, by bringing the first evidence-based implant design to market for this common but disabling condition.” The Loci Orthopaedics team have been working with three of the world’s leading hand surgeons and have used their most cutting-edge research as the basis for the implant design. These surgeons based in Stanford University, Brown University and KU Leuven in Belgium are key-opinion leaders in this area of orthopaedic medicine. The InDx Implant is the only implant that can fully mimic the natural but complex motions of the thumb joint as it provides two points of rotation that can move both concurrently and independently of each other while enabling the joint to move in all six degrees of freedom. The device is also easier to insert and less invasive than any currently available surgical treatment option for this condition. As a result, the InDx Implant will provide excellent clinical outcomes and decrease the risk of surgical and clinical complications. The device offers an exciting new, patient-sensitive treatment option to patients and surgeons and has been designed in conjunction with three of the world’s leading hand surgeons ensuring all end-user requirements are met. Alan Hobbs, Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up Manager, commented: “Enterprise Ireland is delighted to support Loci Orthopaedics, a High Potential Start-Up driving innovation in medcare. Loci are a great example of a market led innovative company addressing unmet medical needs and a substantial market opportunity. We congratulate them and look forward to continue working with them to achieve their global ambitions.” David Murphy, Director of the Technology Transfer Office in NUI Galway, said: “The founders have strong Intellectual Property and have amassed a world class team around them. We are confident that this combination will enable them to progress quickly in this next phase of their journey. We congratulate Loci Orthopaedics on reaching this important milestone.”  Dr Faisal Sharif, Director of BioInnovate Ireland in NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to see Loci Orthopaedics close a €2.75 million seed round investment. This funding will enable them to commercialise their InDx Implant device that will considerably improve patients’ lives. This is a significant step in getting this device to those who need it. The mission of BioInnovate Ireland is to grow the indigenous Medtech sector through dedicated training in medical device innovation. BioInnovate Ireland supports fellows to identify unmet needs in different clinical areas through a dedicated fellowship programme which is co-funded by Enterprise Ireland. The success of Loci Orthopaedics signifies the importance of identifying such unmet clinical needs.” Preliminary research indicates that this device design may also have clinical indications in other small joints of the hands and feet, as well as other joints with complex biomechanics such as the shoulder and elbow. The €2.75 million funding is provided by a combination of institutions comprising of: the investment arm of KU Leuven University in Belgium, which was recently ranked by Forbes as Europe’s most innovative university, Enterprise Ireland and the Western Development Commission. These institutions are complemented by some MedTech industry veterans. For more information about Loci Orthopaedics, visit: -Ends-

Monday, 9 July 2018

MaREI secure €4.4 million to support Ireland’s indigenous biomass and bioenergy industry The Research Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) has secured an additional €4.4 million in funding from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and industry partners under the Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency (SEFE) SFI Spokes Programme, to be based at NUI Galway. Speaking at the launch Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development and the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Seán Kyne TD, said: “Climate Action has never been more important to the continued growth and prosperity of our nation as it is now. Ireland has an abundance of natural resources with enormous potential for sustainable energy output, but we need to continue to invest in more efficient technologies for harnessing this potential. I am delighted to see researchers from the SFI Research Centre, MaREI exploring new and innovative technologies to support Ireland’s ambition of meeting national environmental, energy and climate targets, as well as those set by the European Commission.” The Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency research programme led by Professor Henry Curran at NUI Galway and Professor Jerry D Murphy, UCC, leverages the scientific expertise of ten of Ireland’s top academics in bioenergy research across four Universities (NUI Galway, UCC, UL, TCD) and Teagasc. The programme of work will include the technical and commercial expertise of 10 national and international companies. This four-year collaborative programme aims to identify viable routes to increase the efficient utilisation and supply of sustainable energy, and to support Ireland’s ambition to meet National and EU environmental targets. The Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency Spoke, which is affiliated to the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, and run by MaREI funded researchers, has an ambition of developing new processes, technologies and markets through the co-operation of a number of scientists from various disciplines across a number of institutes and working with 10 innovative companies to support Ireland’s energy transition. Professor Henry Curran from the School of Chemistry and Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, said: “The granting of the Spoke award by SFI and the national and multi-national industry commitment endorses and strengthens the research being undertaken in sustainable energy systems by the participating universities and Teagasc.  I look forward to collaborating on world class research that will underpin the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future.” Professor Murphy, Director of MaREI and head of the bioenergy research group, stated: “The benefit of the SFI Research Centres has been immense for research and innovation; Ireland now has a one-stop-shop system for research expertise that includes the best researchers across the island, coupled with the most relevant industrial partners. This removes the previous competition between researchers and enhances research impact through multi-disciplinary, multi-institute input into industrially relevant cutting edge work. This partnership will bring together the top academics and industry in bioenergy and biofuels, with an overarching ambition of meeting the national objective of decarbonising energy and facilitating Ireland’s transition to a low carbon technology.” The Spoke research teams will collaborate in developing technologies capable of converting a wide variety of residues and by-products to homogenous energy carriers and optimising performance of internal combustion engines using advanced fuels including biofuel blends. The Spoke work programme will complement existing MaREI activities in the bioenergy sector as well as adding new competencies in the area of advanced thermal treatment, combustion modelling and design. The outputs of the Spoke work programme will contribute in a measurable way toward important EU and national environmental and economic objectives in the areas of energy decarbonisation, wastewater treatment, sustainable transport, resource recovery, clean air and water, rural development and diversification of agriculture. The technologies to be advanced by the SEFE Spoke will address some of the drawbacks associated with Ireland's reliance on imported biofuels and intermittent renewables by improving the efficiency and reducing the carbon intensity of power generation and transport from combustion and boosting the supply of renewable heat, which makes up 41% of Ireland’s energy consumption, as well as meeting sustainable waste management challenges. Professor Brian Ó Gallachóir, Co-Director of MaREI, commented: “I am particularly enthused by the industry support for this project. Our research in MaREI is greatly enriched through the partnership we have with our industry partners. In addition to deepening our collaboration with Gas Networks Ireland, this project enables us to benefit from collaborating with a wide range of new partners including ABP Food Group, Arigna Fuels, Shell and Biomass Heating Systems. This investment will in turn enable these industry partners to harness and benefit from the research and innovation capacity we have in MaREI.” Deputy Director General of Science Foundation Ireland, Dr Ciarán Seoighe welcomed the announcement, saying: “Science Foundation Ireland is delighted to support the Sustainable Energy and Fuel Efficiency Spokes project, which comes at a time when the need for new and innovative means to tackle climate change are sorely needed. The Spokes Programme offers a valuable means for research-active companies to align with any of the 17 SFI Research Centres and utilise the world-renowned expertise and state-of-the-art infrastructure therein. Partnerships such of this support Ireland’s drive towards an environmentally sustainable future and places us at the forefront of renewable energy research.” -Ends-

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Funding raised will create 25 new jobs Neurent Medical Limited, a Galway-based medical device company specialising in the treatment of rhinitis, an inflammatory disease of the nose, has raised €9.3 million in a Series A funding round. The company was previously established by Brian Shields and David Townley who met through NUI Galway’s BioInnovate Ireland Programme with Enterprise Ireland funding the development work at the University through a Commercialisation Fund programme. Neurent Medical Ltd is a medical device company specialising in the Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) market. The company designs and develops products for treating inflammatory diseases of the nasal cavities. The initial product offering reduces the primary symptoms of rhinitis, congestion and rhinorrhoea. This funding will be used to advance product development, carry out clinical trials and prepare for US commercialisation of the device. The investment will also create up to 25 new positions in the company. Neurent Medical Chief Executive, Brian Shields, commented: “We are delighted to announce this investment, which will help us to advance our product development and ultimately get our technology in the hands of Ear Nose and Throat surgeons. Fountain Healthcare Partners, along with other members of our investment syndicate, bring huge experience to Neurent Medical and have a proven track record in the industry. We would also like to take the opportunity to thank Enterprise Ireland for their continued support over the past number of years.” David Murphy, Director of the Technology Transfer Office in NUI Galway, said: “Having supported the development and management of this technology since the team came up with the original concept, we wholeheartedly congratulate Brian and David on securing this investment and wish them well in the next phase of their growth.” During the clinical immersion phase of the BioInnovate Ireland programme, Brian Shields and David Townley spent time with clinicians, nationally and internationally, including NUI Galway’s Professor Ivan Keogh in the Ear Nose and Throat clinics. During this time, they invented a novel device solution to address a large unmet clinical need they observed. In collaboration with Professor Keogh, Professor Peter Dockery, the University’s Chair of Anatomy and Dr Martin O’Halloran from the University’s Translational Medical Device Lab, they carried out early validation of their technology concepts with commercialisation funding from Enterprise Ireland. Dr Faisal Sharif, Director of BioInnovate Ireland in NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to see Neurent Medical funded for €9.3 million. This is a significant achievement which will enable them to commercialise their clinical device for rhinitis. BioInnovate Ireland supports fellows to identify unmet needs in different clinical areas through a dedicated fellowship programme which was co-funded by Enterprise Ireland. The success of Neurent Medical signifies the importance of identifying such unmet clinical needs.” Rhinitis is an inflammatory disease of the nose and is reported to affect up to 40% of the population, 25% suffering from allergic rhinitis and 15% from non-allergic rhinitis. It is the fifth most common chronic disease in the US and the most common chronic disease in children overall. Rhinitis is associated with direct healthcare costs of up to $15 billion per year in the US, and has a proven major impact on quality of life, cognitive function and decision-making. The illness is associated with decreased work productivity and absenteeism. The novel therapy being developed by Neurent Medical will offer allergic and non-allergic rhinitis patients an alternative, minimally invasive, and more readily accessible treatment to alleviate the two primary symptoms of rhinitis, rhinorrhoea and nasal obstruction. The therapy will enable Ear Nose and Throat surgeons to treat rhinitis patients in an Ear Nose and Throat office setting using only local anaesthesia, removing the complications and costs associated with existing surgical procedures. David Townley, Neurent Medical Chief Technology Officer commented: “We are excited that our latest investment provides an opportunity to expand our internal teams working across both primary and applied research. This is important to inform the company’s technology and product development and deepen our collaborations with leading experts to advance our treatment of rhinitis.” The funding round was led by Fountain Healthcare Partners with participation from Atlantic Bridge Capital, the Western Development Commission, Enterprise Ireland and a syndicate of Irish and US Medical Device veterans. For more information about Neurent Medical, visit:  -Ends-

Thursday, 28 June 2018

NUI Galway has published its latest figures on Ireland’s Ocean Economy that shows in 2017 the direct economic value of the ocean economy was €1.97 billion representing a 22% increase on 2015 NUI Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) has released its latest update on Ireland’s Ocean Economy as part of their ongoing process of collection and analysis of marine socio-economic data in Ireland. This work has involved revising the previous 2015 estimates with the latest released data for that year from the Central Statistics Office, fisheries and aquaculture data from Bord Iascaigh Mhara, shipping and cruise information from the Irish Maritime Development Office as well as SEMRU’s own survey data with 2017 estimates. The updated figures indicate that in 2017, the direct economic value of Ireland’s ocean economy was an estimated €1.97 billion or approximately 1% of gross domestic product (GDP), which represents a 21% increase on 2015 figures. The 2017 estimates also suggest that our ‘blue economy’ continues to grow at a faster pace than the general economy. Dr Stephen Hynes, Director of SEMRU from the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI Galway, says: “The latest figures indicate that Ireland’s ocean economy continues to see substantial growth across both established and emerging marine industries. While 2016 saw a large increase in activity in the oil and gas industry on the back of the Corrib gas project coming on line, more recent growth in 2017 is being driven by strong performances in the aquaculture, sea fisheries, shipping and marine tourism industries, as well as continued growth in the emerging ocean industries.” Summary for 2017 The ocean economy had a turnover of €5.49 billion in 2017. The indirect economic value in 2017 amounted to €1.75 billion, with a total direct and indirect gross value added (GVA) value of €3.71 billion, which represents 1.85% of GDP. The ocean economy provided employment to over 32,500 individuals, full-time equivalents in 2017.  Established Marine Industries had a turnover of €5.1 billion and provided employment to 30,000 full-time equivalents in 2017, representing 92% of the total turnover and 93% of total employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2017. Oil and gas exploration and production, marine aquaculture and tourism and leisure in marine and coastal areas, all experienced a significant increase in activity, with turnover, GVA and employment increasing across the sector in the 2015-2017 period. In line with an estimated increase in tourism activity generally in Ireland it is assumed that the tourism in marine and coastal areas increased by 6.7%. The shipping and maritime transport sector also exhibited increases, as seen by the 6% increase year on year in the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO)’s i-ship index in 2017. The i-ship index is used by the IMDO to gauge the health of the Irish maritime industry. Emerging Marine Industries had a turnover of €398 million and provided employment to over 2,000 full-time equivalents representing 8% of the turnover and 7% of employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2017. The emerging industries include advanced marine technology products and services, maritime commerce, marine biotechnology and bioproducts and marine renewable energy. Commenting on the latest figures, Professor Alan Ahearne, Director of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, said: “It’s clear from this latest evidence that the Ocean Economy has made a significant contribution to Ireland’s overall economic recovery. Marine industries have delivered new jobs and extra income to every corner of the country. With our vast ocean resources, technological knowledge and innovation talent, there is huge potential for further sustainable growth in Ireland’s Blue Economy.” Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland, published in July 2012, outlines a number of specific targets which seek to expand Ireland’s ocean economy. One of those targets aims to double its value to 2.4% of GDP by 2030. This 2.4% figure was based on a total estimate (both direct and indirect Gross Value Added) in 2007 for the Irish Ocean economy that amounted to 1.2% of GDP at that time. The latest marine industry statistics from SEMRU indicate that the total direct and indirect value of the Irish ocean economy is €3.71 billion which represents 1.85% of GDP in 2017. For more information on the latest figures please visit: For more information on SEMRU, please visit -Ends-

Monday, 18 June 2018

Funding will be used to advance product development in preparation for follow-up funding and US commercialisation of the device and to progress to first in human trials in 2020 NUI Galway-based medical device company, AuriGen Medical has received €2.5 million in the latest round of Horizon 2020 SME Instrument funding, which receives applications from all over Europe. Ranking number one out of 1,280 applications across all sectors, the company specialises in the treatment of persistent atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) patients and is developing the first cardiac implant to treat both the stroke and heart failure risk associated with this condition. The company was established by Tony O’Halloran and Dr John Thompson who met through NUI Galway’s BioInnovate Ireland Programme with Enterprise Ireland funding the development work at the University through a Commercialisation Fund programme. The Commercialisation Fund programme is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under Ireland’s European Union Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-2020. Dr Thompson, a former intensive care physician together with Mr O’Halloran, a highly experienced medical device engineer, formed AuriGen Medical after meeting in 2015 when both were selected by the BioInnovate Ireland Programme at NUI Galway. During this time, they invented the novel device solution to address a large unmet clinical need that they observed. Persistent atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, affects around 10 million patients across Europe and is associated with direct healthcare costs in the billions of euros each year with patients describing each palpitation as a constant reminder of their own mortality, fearing that the next heart beat could signal a catastrophic stroke. Over 70% of atrial fibrillation patients have persistent or longstanding disease however, the current treatment options including medications, cardioversion and ablation (a keyhole procedure carried out to scar or destroy tissue in the heart that is allowing incorrect electrical signals to cause an abnormal heart rhythm) only address the minority of patients with intermittent disease. AuriGen Medical believe that once approved their medical device could help the majority of patients become free from atrial fibrillation. This funding will be used to advance product development in preparation for first in human trials in 2020. The company will initially target the 200,000 persistent atrial fibrillation patients per year who are having repeat ablations due to reoccurrence after a first failed ablation procedure. With the costs of repeat ablations estimated at over $50,000 AuriGen’s device aims to deliver significant cost savings to healthcare providers.    The AuriGen device is a single shot left atrial appendage implant with additional ablation and sensor technology for fast, simple and permanent electro-mechanical isolation of the Left atrial appendage, a pouch located in the upper chamber of the heart. The AuriGen technology utilises single-use sensors and software algorithms to give doctors a real-time feedback on the quality of the ablation. By making it easier for doctors to tell if they have permanently electrically isolated, AuriGen believes it can increase success rates while shortening procedure times and open the procedure to even more physicians. The technology is based on significant clinical data underpinning the benefits of electrical isolation of the left atrial appendage in persistent atrial fibrillation. AuriGen Medical will compete in both the electrophysiology and structural heart markets, aiming to meet unmet clinical needs for both atrial fibrillation and stroke prevention. Dr John Thompson, Chief Executive Officer of AuriGen Medical, said: “Ranking first in the Horizon 2020 SME instrument is an incredible endorsement of AuriGen Medical’s technology, market opportunity and the company’s management team.” Tony O’Halloran, Chief Technology Officer of AuriGen Medical, said: “Our pre-clinical trials have been very encouraging and the feedback from cardiologists is extremely positive. We are delighted to announce this investment, which will help us make a number of key hire’s, further advance our product development and once approved make a positive impact on the lives of millions of atrial fibrillation patients across the world.” Sean Burke, Horizon 2020 National Contact Point, Enterprise Ireland, said: “The SME Instrument phase 2 funding is complementary to Enterprise Ireland’s supports which facilitate innovation as a driver of business growth and job creation. Our support of close-to-market projects gives companies a head start with fast access to funding and business innovation support. In the latest call results, 64 projects were funded within a budget of €110 million and AuriGen Medical was ranked first amongst these. Enterprise Ireland congratulates AuriGen on its success in acquiring this funding and will work with the company to support its introduction of this innovation to market.” David Murphy, Director of the Technology Transfer Office in NUI Galway, said: “Having supported the development and management of this technology since the team came up with the original concept, we wholeheartedly congratulate Tony and John on securing this investment and wish them well in the next phase of their growth.” Dr Faisal Sharif, Director of BioInnovate Ireland in NUI Galway, said: “We are delighted to see AuriGen Medical funded for €2.5 million through H2020 SME Instrument. The funding will allow Aurigen Medical to further develop the technology and plan clinical strategy with ‘First in Man’ clinical trials for patients with persisent atrial fibrillation. The mission of BioInnovate Ireland is to grow the indigenous Medtech sector through dedicated training in medical device innovation. The fellowship programme, co-funded by Enterprise Ireland is instrumental in identifying such patients with limited treatment options.” The Horizon 2020 National Support Network is led by Enterprise Ireland on behalf of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. For more information about AuriGen Medical, visit: -Ends-

Thursday, 3 May 2018

International conference at NUI Galway on 24 May to explore artificial intelligence and machine learning Festival season in Galway is well underway with the AtlanTec Festival 2018, which runs from April through to 25 May. Now in its fourth year, the IT festival is organised by the IT Association Galway (ITAG). At the heart of the festival will be the international conference on 24 May, co-hosted by NUI Galway. This year’s AtlanTec Conference at NUI Galway is themed on ‘The Art of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning’. Some 300 business leaders and expert software developers are expected to attend the day-long conference which will explore all aspects of the topic. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are among the drivers of a wave of innovation in IT. Machines and robots are being programmed to adapt some of the cognitive functions associated with humans, such as learning and problem solving. Many have cited this as revolutionary and life changing for society as we know it. The conference will feature innovators and future thinkers who will give insights into such possibilities, while also discussing related technological topics such as data analytics, deep learning, virtual assistants and chatbots. An array of speakers have been announced from as far afield as Vancouver, Denmark, India, New York, the UK, as well as Ireland. Among those will be Nell Watson, an engineer, entrepreneur, and futurist thinker affiliated with the Singularity University and The Future Society at Harvard; and Canadian inventor Ann Makosinski who has created a flashlight that runs off the heat of the human hand and a mug that uses heat from a drink to charge a phone. IT Association Galway and AtlanTec Festival CEO Caroline Cawley explains the purpose of the festival and conference: “AtlanTec Festival showcases Galway’s diverse technology culture. It’s an opportunity to encourage creativity, collaboration and innovation within the IT, business and educational communities in the West of Ireland. The ability to attract international speakers of the calibre of Nell Watson and Ann Makosinski is a testament to the innovative culture that exists in the west.” Other festival events take place across a range of venues and include: In-Company Events across Galway’s Tecnology Sector – April until end May Digital Women’s Forum ‘Pressing for Progress’ - Hotel Meyrick, 23 May Transition Year Gets Techie – GMIT, 10 May Tech Tag World Championships – Corinthians RFC, 25 May Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “Ireland is the second largest exporter of computer and IT services in the world. Some of the largest companies in the sector have bases in Galway. We are also home to some incredible innovative indigenous organisations, including 15 ICT start-ups based here on campus and many more in incubators across the city. Combine this with the research expertise at NUI Galway’s Insight Centre for Data Analytics and College of Engineering and IT, along with GMIT’s expertise and we have an ecosystem that goes from strength to strength.” The festival is supported by ITAG Skillnet, NUI Galway, Avaya, Cisco, Fidelity Investments, DXC, Fintrax, HPE, Storm Technology, Valeo, GMIT and Galway City Council. The Art of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning conference will take place in the Bailey Allen Hall, NUI Galway on Thursday, 24 May. For bookings and full details of AtlanTec Festival, email or visit: -Ends-

Friday, 27 April 2018

The KTI (Knowledge Transfer Ireland) Impact Awards recognise and showcase the success in knowledge transfer carried out in Irish Higher Education Institutions and publicly funded research organisations for the wider benefit of the economy and society at large. NUI Galway was nominated in two categories for the finals on 26 April and won a special recognition award for its work with BioInnovate. Spin-out Company Impact AwardNUI Galway has been shortlisted  for it's spin-out NVP Energy, which has changed wastewater treatment from a process which traditionally expends large amounts of energy, to a process which produces usable energy. Spin-out Company Impact AwardNUI Galway has been shortlisted  for it's spin-out NVP Energy, which has changed wastewater treatment from a process which traditionally expends large amounts of energy, to a process which produces usable energy. Through its ground-breaking technology, licensed from NUI Galway, NVP Energy drives down costs and reduces the carbon footprint of its customers. NVP Energy’s technology exploits the natural action of anaerobic bacteria which convert the organic pollutants present in wastewater to high-quality biogas. The technology’s ability to harness nature’s powerful natural processes means it can work at low temperatures and needs no external heat. Since its founding in 2013, the company have secured over €12 million in funding and investment. An outstanding 2017 has seen NVP Energy secure UK-based projects with Heineken and projects with a malting site and a municipal treatment utility in 2018. The company’s head office is in Galway with additional offices in Dublin and the UK. Licence2Market Impact Award NUI Galway was shortlisted for management information software and copyright licence to Qpercom. Qpercom has become a global leader in providing advanced assessment solutions and expertise to institutions worldwide. Its software solutions are used in high stakes evaluation-based exams, such those of medicine and law, and in other scenarios where assessing a person’s capabilities in a fair and accurate manner is paramount. Qpercom claims 70% reduction in administration time and elimination of human error by taking out the laborious paper trail. A 2008 spin-out from NUI Galway, Qpercom took a licence to copyright-protected material and know-how relating to Management Information Systems (MIS) technology and in 2017 launched a new product to market, Qpercom Entrust, based on this licence. -ENDS-  

Monday, 23 April 2018

  €486.2 million total direct sales of cultural and creative produce from the west of Ireland in 2016 5,000 companies employ 13,000 people in creative industries in the west of Ireland App, gaming, and new media industries reported double the sales to their craft and cultural counterparts The School of Geography and Archaeology and the Whitaker Institute in NUI Galway, was part of a recent conference that highlighted key outcomes from the a creative momentum project where analysis of, and supports for the creative sector in the Arts, Crafts, Design, Media and Technology industries, were discussed. The three year project, led by the Western Development Commission (WDC) sought to shine a light on the important role that culture and creativity can play in the development of some of Europe’s most rural regions. The project team presented resources and toolkits useful to creative entrepreneurs that will help internationalise and develop their business. A panel discussion debated ‘creativity on the periphery’ addressing both the challenges and opportunities linked to working in the creative industries sector in Europe’s Northern Edge. The NUI Galway team is one of the partner organisations of a creative momentum, where the project was implemented by the School of Geography and Archaeology and the Whitaker Institute. An economic and social impact analysis of the west of Ireland creative sector was carried out as part of the project. The team found total direct sales of craft, cultural and creative produce amounted to over €486 million in 2016, while average company sales differed across the sub-sectors. Close to 5,000 companies employ nearly 13,000 people in this sector in the west of Ireland. The creative industries (app development, gaming, and new media) reported average sales close to twice that of their craft (artistic/heritage laden goods) and cultural (theatre, music, film) counterparts. The report also identified a range of wider socio-economic contributions from the creative sector in the west of Ireland. Dr Patrick Collins, lead researcher of the project at NUI Galway, said: “These figures help prove how culture and creativity can be seen as vital resources. Encouragingly, they point to a bright future, but these are often one person operations and micro enterprises that need support and recognition. We also identified how a vibrant creative sector has many impacts beyond the economic, they help build communities and are vital to the identity of the place we live in.” NUI Galway also developed the ‘Creative Business Model Toolkit’ as part of the project. The Toolkit provides information resources and tools for creative entrepreneurs to better understand how to develop and refine their business model. It explores what a business model is and its importance to creative businesses and draws on real world examples of creative businesses to illustrate issues. The toolkit aims to help creative entrepreneurs build a business that is more sustainable and competitive. a creative momentum is a three year (2015-2018), €2 million transnational project co-funded by the EU Interreg Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme. The project has focused on the development of the creative industries sector in regions across Europe’s Northern Edge. To read the full Economic Impact report of the project, visit: To read the Creative Model Business Toolkit, visit: -Ends-

Friday, 6 April 2018

An NUI Galway study on blockchain has been presented at the Whitaker Ideas Forum workshop on campus entitled, ‘The adoption of Blockchain in Ireland: Examining the influence of organisational factors’. The study investigates the organisational factors that influenced Irish companies in their decisions to adopt blockchain. The study, which was conducted in conjunction with the Blockchain Association of Ireland, investigated the organisational factors that influenced Irish companies in their decisions to adopt blockchain. The emergence of blockchain as a trend in the information technology sector has attracted considerable attention from practitioners, academics, researchers and national development authorities. Blockchain in its simplest form is a shared database system which allows users in a peer-to-peer network to verify and store records. Blockchain represents a new way to access and trust data communicated over the internet. Lead author of the study, Dr Trevor Clohessy at NUI Galway, said: “Instead of keeping data centralised in a traditional ledger, these new digital systems use independent computers, often referred to as ‘nodes’, to record, synchronise and share individual transactions in their respective electronic ledgers. Blockchain is a digital ledger which allows for the brokering of trust on a decentralised peer-to-peer network. Blockchain transactions can include the exchange of data such as personal identification records, and assets such as tokens and digital currency.” The study, which was led by Dr Clohessy and Dr Thomas Acton from the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway, identified several patterns. It found that top management support and organisational readiness are enablers for blockchain, and that large companies are more likely to adopt blockchain than small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The research explains these findings by examining the nature of blockchain and the characteristics of Ireland as a developed technological country. Organisational readiness will require the availability of: Employees with the requisite blockchain IT knowledge and skills Financial resources within the IT budget for adopting blockchain Infrastructure on which blockchain applications can be built Dr Clohessy added: “We are excited to present the results of a seminal piece of research that we have conducted on blockchain organisational readiness here in Ireland. Blockchain is often portrayed as a black box technology which is mostly associated with cryptocurrencies and financial institutions. However, our research indicates that blockchain is a much more versatile beast that provides adopters with advantages such as anonymity, immutability (transactions that are permanent and cannot be altered), transparency, security and fast transactions. “We expect blockchain will significantly transform the traditional business operations of organisations across a multitude of industries such as health, food, financial and Government sectors in Ireland over the next five years. However, we have also identified a number of barriers which organisations will have to overcome such as the need for them to view blockchain as a separate entity to cryptocurrencies, a lack of technology workers who possess the requisite blockchain skills and competencies, and a lack of university level blockchain courses encompassing a number of core competencies identified in the study.” The J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics is currently exploring various possibilities to address the gap in the lack of university level blockchain courses such as creating executive blockchain workshops. Dr Clohessy has also introduced blockchain as a topic for students within the modules for MSc Business Analytics and MSc Information Systems Management. A more detailed industry report and several academic studies on blockchain are currently in progress. For more information about the Blockchain Association of Ireland, visit: -Ends-

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Project aims to promote STEM amongst student teachers The School of Education at NUI Galway, supported by Google Ireland, has announced an innovative project titled “Creative Coding for Maths Makers.” The new project integrates mathematical and computer programming concepts, with a specific focus on promoting STEM amongst student teachers. BA Mathematics and Education student teachers at NUI Galway will be working with primary and post-primary school children to promote mathematics and computer programming integration. Both student teachers and school children will develop an understanding and design of innovative mathematical concepts by a coding interface and will then render their virtual models physically in the MakerSpace. Unique, and the only facility of its kind in an Irish university, the MakerSpace in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway is a space purposefully designed to facilitate engaged teaching and learning. It's a space where students can be creative, collaborate, share, develop ideas, innovate, and generally just ‘make stuff’. The computers available in the MakerSpace have a higher specification than those available in most of the PC suites on campus. MakerSpace offers a 3D printing service*. Such exposure and experience is of value to students as it replicates life in a STEM industry. Claire Conneely, Computer Science Education Programme Manager at Google Ireland said: “We are excited to support the Creative Coding for Maths Makers programme at NUI Galway. Embedding Computer Science as a fundamental and rigorous subject throughout the entire school curriculum - including the introduction of Computer Science as a Leaving Certificate subject later this year - will ensure that students have a deeper understanding of how they can use technology to be creative and solve problems. Equally important is growing the confidence and skillset of the next generation of teachers, so that Computer Science will be accessible and available to all students across Ireland in the coming years.”  Professor Gerry MacRuairc, Professor of Education and Head of School, commented: “this Google funded programme reinforces the philosophy of the School that technology will not replace teachers but it is essential that teachers are introduced to many forms of technology in their teacher education programmes.” In order to be a catalyst for positive change in computer science education, Google has sponsored projects like the NUI Galway ‘Creative Coding for Maths Makers’ program in order to help address a key challenge for computing education in Ireland, in the preparation and up-skilling of teachers to deliver the new Computer Science curricula in primary and post-primary Irish schools. Leading the project is Dr Cornelia Connolly in the School of Education at NUI Galway: “The introduction of coding in schools and the new Computer Science Leaving Certificate present a landmark opportunity for STEM advancement in Ireland; however, there is the challenge now to prepare teachers properly to teach these key STEM areas in an engaging and effective way. Projects like ‘Creative Coding for Maths Makers’ enable us to start doing this in Galway, in partnership with schools in the city and region.” -Ends- 

Friday, 16 March 2018

NUI Galway has signed the Charter for the Galway and West of Ireland Region of Gastronomy which commits the University to a range of initiatives to support food culture in the region as part of its designation as European Region of Gastronomy 2018. These initiatives will include featuring local produce in campus food outlets; hosting high-profile food-related conferences and a series of public lectures on theme related to gastronomy and food culture. The 17 restaurants on the NUI Galway campus serve approximately 30,000 customers each week and under the Charter, campus caterers have committed to sourcing as much produce as possible from local producers and suppliers as well as supporting food waste minimisation actions within the home and workplace. Dr Philip Smyth, Head of Shannon College of Hotel Management, which is now a college of NUI Galway, said: “Our food culture is vitally important for our health and wellbeing, and signing the charter highlights the University’s commitment to supporting this important sector. We look forward to working with our campus community to highlight the richness of our region of gastronomy and to support sustainable development and innovation.” Over the coming months, the University will host a range of high-profile food conferences, including the Good Food Ireland Conference and Food on the Edge. As part of the programme of events on sustainability, the University in partnership with Teagasc will host an Agri-Food Seminar on Sustainability as well as a Beef and Sheep Workshop in June. Ann Duggan, Commercial Manager at NUI Galway, commented: “Local seasonal produce forms the key ingredient across menus on a daily basis and the five catering companies providing services on campus are enthusiastically working with growers/ producers and wholesalers to create nutritional, tasty dishes for our campus community of approximately 20,000. We also welcome over 10,000 conference delegates and visitors to campus annually. In recent years local, artisan and craft producers have exhibited at receptions for international delegates which has added enormously to the enjoyment of their experience in Galway.   Food is central to the delegates’ experience and having such a wealth of wonderful fresh produce on our doorstep differentiates Galway and gives us a strong competitive edge when competing for international events.” Throughout 2018 NUI Galway highlight areas where it is making a contribution to Gastronomy under the key focus areas, such as Sustainability, Health and Nutrition and Cultural Diversity already established as themes for Galway’s year as European Region of Gastronomy. These will feature in a Public Lecture Series on campus in autumn 2018 which will be which will be free and open to the public. Speaking on the announcement, Elaine Donohue, Programme Lead, Galway European Region of Gastronomy, said: “The European Region of Gastronomy is thrilled to have such committed support from NUI Galway for the year of our designation. They have gone above and beyond in their commitments to develop more local supply chains through our Galway & West of Ireland Food Charter and are looking to engage a large number of their schools in our themes for the year. Through their support, both TouRRoir, a Global Forum from Good Food Ireland, and Food on The Edge, an International Chef's Symposium will be hosted at NUI Galway.” ENDS

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Announces Medical Device Research Collaboration between Boston Scientific and the SFI Research Centre CÚRAM Medical device research in cardiovascular illnesses will allow surgeons to support minimally invasive procedures and improve outcomes for patients. An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, today announced a new research project between CÚRAM, the SFI Research Centre for Medical Devices based at NUI Galway, and Boston Scientific. The research will enhance medical devices that allow surgeons to support minimally invasive procedures when carrying out life-saving repairs for aneurysms and aortic valve repair. It is one of several new research projects emerging from the collaboration between CÚRAM and Boston Scientific. ‌Pictured at the United States Institute of Peace, Washington DC (left to right): Dr Carmel McGroarty Mitchell, CÚRAM Industry Programme Manager, Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of the SFI Research Centre CÚRAM, Prof Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, and Dr David Knapp, Vice President, Corporate Research, Boston Scientific. Speaking at a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) event in Washington DC to celebrate and build scientific collaboration between Ireland and the United States as part of the St Patrick’s Day Festival, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD said, “These new research projects are further evidence of the high calibre of our research talent and the continued growth of the medical devices sector in Ireland.” “Thanks to significant Government investment in R&D through Science Foundation Ireland, we have built a world-class research ecosystem, and Ireland is now recognised as a global leader in creative, innovative technologies. By collaborating with industry on innovative research, I hope we can look forward to the development of new and affordable solutions for chronic diseases, which can have a transformative effect on people's lives.” Boston Scientific products touch the lives of more than 25 million patients each year. Its Galway facility, which focuses on cardiovascular devices, is the company’s largest facility in Ireland. Key product lines include drug-eluting stents, biliary stents, and catheters. This new project, led by CÚRAM Principal Investigator (PI) Dr Niamh Hynes, NUI Galway offers the exciting potential to develop new devices by bringing together clinical and industry expertise and experience with biomedical and scientific research excellence. “This unique, multi-disciplinary, specialist environment is key to CÚRAM’s success in developing strong programmes of work with our industry partners; in this case bringing substantial investment from Boston Scientific,” said Prof Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of the SFI Research Centre CÚRAM based at NUI Galway. “This project is in addition to three other ongoing research projects with Boston Scientific.” Interventional cardiology is a branch of cardiology dealing specifically with catheter-based treatment of structural heart diseases. Minimally invasive transcatheter procedures for aortic valve repair, which involve inserting a replacement valve are being used more frequently, reducing the risk of surgery for patients. Research is now focusing on the development of novel interventional solutions, which allow blood to flow in the correct direction through the heart. CÚRAM Principle Investigator, Dr Faisal Sharif, in collaboration with Boston Scientific, is developing technology to further reduce risk and improve outcomes for patients undergoing these surgeries. Another research project, led by CÚRAM Investigator Prof Tim O’ Brien at NUI Galway, is carrying out a preclinical evaluation of a catheter device to support muscle and vascular regeneration in patients suffering from critical limb ischaemia; a severe obstruction of the arteries which reduces blood flow to the extremities. CÚRAM investigators Prof Gearoid Ó Laighin and Dr Leo Quinlan are also collaborating with Boston Scientific on the development of a novel implantable electrical stimulation device to improve cardiovascular circulation. Prof Mark Ferguson, Science Foundation Ireland Director General and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said “The significant work being carried out by the SFI Research Centre CÚRAM continues to position Ireland at the forefront of the world medical device industry. I am delighted with the announcement of this new research partnership, which highlights the world-class reputation of Ireland as an important centre for R&D. The deepening of CÚRAM’s industry research collaborations is a testament to the research talent and collaborative environment which companies can access in Ireland. I am also confident that the project outcomes have the potential to positively transform human health across the world.”  “CÚRAM’s goal is to establish long-term strategic relationships with our industry partners, to complete projects that advance medical device technologies and inventions and convert these into products and services that benefit the patient,” said Prof Pandit. “Our Industry Programme Team facilitates and supports collaborations such as the projects we are working on with Boston Scientific; from the initial enquiry right through to knowledge transfer and the identification of future projects.” CÚRAM is a world-leading SFI Research Centre that brings together researchers from NUI Galway, Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, University College Cork, University Limerick. Its overarching aim is to radically improve quality of life for patients suffering from chronic illness. CÚRAM’s clinical targets include cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, diabetes, neural disorders, musculoskeletal issues, soft tissue repair and renal and urological disease. -Ends-

Monday, 12 March 2018

New Blackstone LaunchPad Partnership to Benefit NUI Galway Staff, Students and Alumni Entrepreneurs working with the Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway will benefit from a new partnership between the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and TechStars, a global start-up accelerator and entrepreneurial network. The new effort was announced March 7 at SXSW EDU in Austin, Texas, USA. . The announcement comes as Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway celebrates its second year on campus at NUI Galway. As one of just 20 Blackstone LaunchPad sites across the globe, Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway boasts an entrepreneurial student community that has over 5,000 members.   It has provided over 1,800 coaching sessions since launching and holds 3-4 events each week across campus supporting entrepreneurship. The programme helps students, staff and alumni explore entrepreneurship as a viable career path. The programme is funded in partnership between the Galway University Foundation and the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Director of Innovation at NUI Galway, David Murphy said: “NUI Galway is ranked as one of the top 250 universities in the world so we must constantly innovate to ensure we deliver a world-class education and experience for our students. The TechStars partnership with the Blackstone Charitable Foundation will provide our entrepreneurs with very valuable access to international expertise, mentors and supports.” Natalie Walsh, Executive Director, Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway, commented: “The announcement this week by Blackstone LaunchPad and TechStars will give NUI Galway staff, students and alumni access to world-class resources and expertise. This is a tremendous opportunity to set NUI Galway apart from other universities across the globe. We are confident that the partnership will complement our fantastic entrepreneurial eco-system on campus and further enhances our position as a place where entrepreneurship and innovation happen.” This year the NUI Galway programme will run its first student accelerator summer programme, in addition it will run a female only InnovatHER programme showcasing some of the Ireland’s leading female entrepreneurs. While in April 2018 a med-tech competition for students focussing on solving unmet clinical needs will take place. Blackstone LaunchPad is one of a portfolio of innovative programme supported by the Galway University Foundation at NUI Galway other programmes include, BioInnovate, BioExel, EXPLORE, and TechInnovate. The future of entrepreneurship at NUI Galway looks bright and promising.  ENDS

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Lero Researchers at NUI Galway and Valeo Announce Partnership on Autonomous Vehicles Development Signal processing technology to help vehicles see and adapt better to complex environments NUI Galway campus to serve as testbed ‌‌Researchers from the Lero SFI Research Centre at NUI Galway have signed an autonomous vehicles Research and Development partnership with Valeo, the major automotive supplier headquartered in Paris, France. Funding for the programme comes from Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and Valeo. The research will focus on helping autonomous vehicles to better navigate in complex, real world conditions using sensor signal processing technology.Pictured l-r: Dr Martin Glavin, NUI Galway, Dr Ciarán Hughes, Valeo and Dr Edward Jones, NUI Galway. Photo Andrew Downes A team of up to 30 Lero NUI Galway and Valeo engineers based in Tuam, Ireland, will work on the project. In support of the programme, Lero NUI Galway is hiring ten PhD and two post-doctoral researchers. Valeo, which employs 1,100 people in Tuam, operates the largest Research and Development team in the West of Ireland with over 400 engineers. The project team at Lero, the Irish Software Research Centre, supported by Science Foundation Ireland, will be headed by Dr Martin Glavin and Dr Edward Jones of the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway. Dr Ciarán Hughes, Senior Expert in Computer Vision, leads the Valeo research team. Dr Edward Jones from NUI Galway, said: “In many ways perception of the current state of autonomous vehicle technology is more advanced than reality. While autonomous vehicles are currently operating successfully in several locations, particularly in the US, this is often under road landscape and weather conditions very different to the more complex city and rural environments that would commonly be found in locations such as Ireland or elsewhere in Europe.” As part of the research programme a semi-autonomous car will be equipped to navigate every day hazards on the NUI Galway campus, although the test vehicle will be under human control at all times. Critical use cases will be examined at Valeo’s secured test facility in Tuam. Dr Martin Glavin from NUI Galway, said: “Working with the Valeo Research and Development team, our research aims to develop sensor technology that can see further and adapt to difficult driving conditions such as fog, heavy rain and darkness. It will also be designed to better deal with real life road situations such as cyclists, pedestrians or animals wandering on to the road.” Dr Ciarán Hughes, Senior Expert, Valeo added: “This collaboration brings an 18-year relationship with NUI Galway to a new level, a step that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Lero. At a broad level, the project will look at how to extract the most information possible from automotive sensors, which is critical for highly complex autonomous driving systems.” Speaking about the partnership, Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General of Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland, said: “It is a tribute to researchers in Ireland that Valeo has chosen to work with Lero, the SFI Research Centre for Software Research, and establish this Research and Development partnership here. SFI Research Centres such as Lero continue to make important scientific advances which support enterprise and industry, develop critical skills, support regional development and enhance Ireland’s international reputation. We look forward to seeing the results of the partnership and the sharing of knowledge and expertise it will facilitate.” Joe Gibbs, Business Development Manager at Lero, the SFI-funded Irish Software Research Centre, added: “This is an exciting project at the cutting edge of advanced autonomous vehicle technology. It is significant that this research is taking place in Ireland.” For more information about the research contact Dr Edward Jones at or 091 492720 and Dr Martin Glavin at or 091 492035. -Ends-

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

NUI Galway is calling all wanna-be-engineers to participate in a free full day family event ‘Engineering Our Future: Family Fun Day’, which will take place on Saturday, 24 February from 10am–4pm in the Alice Perry Engineering Building at NUI Galway.  The Family Fun Day is part of the Engineers Week 2018 which celebrates engineering across Ireland. The Family Fun Day will provide plenty of science and engineering shows, movie screening, workshops and hands-on activities that will inspire young (and older) people. Families can watch ‘Dream Big: Engineering Our World’ narrated by Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges which celebrates the human creativity behind engineering marvels big and small from the Great Wall of China and the world’s tallest buildings to underwater robots, solar cars and smart, sustainable cities, and show how engineers push the limits of innovation in unexpected and amazing ways. Young and older attendees can engage with the ‘Spectacular Science of Water Show’ and see how the water cycle works; learn about the impact water has on our weather and other amazing properties of water. See clouds before your eyes, watch what can be done with the power of water and see water being poured straight into ice. Spectacular magic tricks can be experienced with quirky illusions and stunts in the show ‘It’s all done with mirrors’. Is it trapped doors, mirrors, or camera effects? Whatever you discover, more may be revealed! Families are encouraged to come and build your own wind turbine, check if you are stronger than a superhero, learn where water comes from and where it goes, explore the GEEC: Galway Energy Efficient Car, build robots, engage in a LEGO mindstorm or learn about our rich engineering heritage. These and many other activities showing the world of civil, environmental, mechanical, biomedical and electronic engineering, and information technology will be available on the day. Speaking about the Family Fun Day, Professor Peter Mc Hugh, Dean of College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “Engineering is in every aspect of our lives; it allows us to live, communicate, travel, work, play, stay safe and healthy. By taking maths and science from the lab engineers dream of, invent, design and build things that change the reality and future of all human beings. Join us for the Family Fun Day and explore Engineering through exciting, fun and quirky demonstrations, meet with practicing engineers and IT specialists to better understand the role of Engineering in our lives and its impact on our future.” All details about the Family Fun Day are available at  and bookings of free tickets can also be made through the website. Tickets can be booked in advanced for some shows, but it will also be possible to attend shows without pre-booking on a first-come-first-served basis on the day. For further information on ‘Engineering Our Future: Family Fun Day’ contact Jamie Goggins or Magdalena Hajdukiewicz -Ends-

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

NUI Galway launch the European SEAFUEL project for sustainable integration of renewable fuels in local transportation across three remote Atlantic regions NUI Galway has officially launched the SEAFUEL project, which aims to use hydrogen as a renewable resource across the Atlantic area to power the local transport fleet of cars and support the shift towards a low-carbon economy. The project will be piloted in the Canary Islands, Madeira in Portugal and the Aran Islands. Led by NUI Galway, the €3.5 million three year SEAFUEL project will use the expertise and infrastructure of a group of transnational partners in renewable energy, namely solar and wind, to demonstrate the viability of hydrogen as a fuel to be used by the local transport authorities. SEAFUEL aims to demonstrate the feasibility to power local transportation networks using fuels produced by renewable energies and seawater, with no net carbon footprint as promoted by the resource-efficient flagship initiative COM(2010)2020, an EU policy document on ‘a strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth’ within the Europe 2020 strategy. SEAFUEL will cover technical innovation by way of a demonstration plant, a framework for policy implementation and a sustainability analysis of production, and distribution and usage of hydrogen as an alternative fuel in remote Atlantic regions. Dr Pau Farràs from the School of Chemistry at NUI Galway, said: “SEAFUEL proposes a sustainable way to power local transportation in isolated regions using renewable resources such as sun, wind and seawater, considering the inherent intermittency of such solar and wind energy.” SEAFUEL will focus on enhancing the green growth and blue economy and paving the way for common renewable energy policies to promote clean and sustainable transport systems. Isolated areas such as islands face the specific challenge of the high cost of electricity and fuel and their dependency on mainland infrastructures. SEAFUEL will target these regions where 30% of fuel consumption comes from local transportation. The project aims to drastically reduce greenhouse emissions, particle matter (PM) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), in line with the Clean Air Programme for Europe 2008/50/EC, and provide a pathway for isolated regions to become energetically independent, leading to future installations in other Atlantic regions. An alternative fuels model for islands will be developed to fulfil the requirements that each of the partner regions propose for their ‘Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS3), aimed at low carbon economy and efficient use of marine resources. The SEAFUEL project is co-financed by the 2014-2020 INTERREG Atlantic Area programme that supports transnational cooperation projects in 36 Atlantic regions in five countries; France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom, contributing to the achievement of economic, social and territorial cohesion. Led by NUI Galway, the SEAFUEL partners include; Comharchumann Fuinnimh Oileáin Árann Teoranta, University of Liverpool, Action Renewables, HyEnergy Consultancy Limited, Logan Energy, the Institute of Technology and Renewable Energies of Tenerife and the Tenerife Energy Agency, The Regional Agency for Energy and Environment of the Autonomous Region of Madeira in Portugal and the European Hydrogen Association in Belgium. For more contact Dr Pau Farràs Costa, SEAFUEL Project Lead, School of Chemistry, NUI Galway at or 091 492765. Visit SEAFUEL at: -Ends-  

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Six companies will gain €95,000 in seed funding along with intensive training for the next six months on this mentor centric, expert lead, practical, Medtech Accelerator, the first of its kind in Ireland. Investment opportunities range from cutting edge spinal injury technologies to disruptive wound care products, new wave manufacturing techniques to cell therapies to revolutionise oncology treatments, and environmental and clinical diagnostics to preventative patient devices for chronic disease.  Innovative new solutions to medical challenges will be developed by six new companies announced today (8 February 2018) as participants in the BioExel Accelerator Medtech programme. The NUI Galway initiative, supported by Enterprise Ireland, will support the companies who were shortlisted from over 50 applicants. BioExel Medtech Accelerator is the first of its kind in Ireland to focus solely on the medical technology sector. The six companies, which are all in the scale-up phase, will be based at NUI Galway for a period of six months, to build and commercially validate their technologies by working with existing entrepreneurial networks, mentors and management team. BioExel is delighted to announce the first cohort of companies: Bioprobe Diagnostics Ltd – Ciaran Geoghegan Bluedrop Medical Ltd – Chris Murphy GiantLeap Biotechnology Ltd – Martin Codyre Hidramed Solutions Ltd – Suzanne Moloney Grey Matter Technologies Ltd – Rory Dunne Q-Pathway Ltd – Niamh Frehill The successful participants met their first challenge of many, in a three-day clinic on campus with global experts, mentors, and entrepreneur in residence as their market strategy is validated and substantiated. The first month’s clinic has seen many experts on site including: BioVisability, Kate Gunning; HMC Marketing Consultancy, Helen McCormack; Bob Rosenberg, Entrepreneur in Residence; Viadymanics; Ormond Coaching; BioTechspert; Cresco Innovation and many more to work with the BioExel companies and share true market knowledge and experience. BioExel is managed by Dr Sandra Ganly the accelerator Director, also co-founder of BioInnovate and Senior Research Fellow with vast experience in the Medtech environment. Another member of the management team is Fiona Neary, Commercial Director and co-founder of BioExel, as well as Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, with many years’ experience working with the start-up community. Fiona Neary, Commercial Director and co-founder of BioExel at NUI Galway, said: “For these companies being immersed in a Medtech hub, the environment that BioExel is aligned to is critical, as the innovation and transformation in this ecosystem is recognised globally. From over 50 applications the vast array of discovery and technology in the medtech sector is growing at a rapid rate with some amazing opportunities. BioExel is key to this transformation as we deliver the next generation of investor ready, first class medical technologies to the marketplace.” The Western region already has a strong Medtech ecosystem and this is actively supported by the expertise and infrastructure at NUI Galway. The University is home to Ireland’s only centre for stem cell manufacturing, extensive translational and clinical facilities, biomedical sciences research laboratories, and the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices. This is further strengthened by NUI Galway’s expertise in funding grants, knowledge transfer, and programmes such as BioInnovate and BioExel. BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Galway Foundation Office, Bank of Ireland seed and early stage equity fund, Western Development Commission and hosted by NUI Galway. The Medtech Accelerator programme is part of Enterprise Ireland’s overall strategy to increase the number and quality of start-ups that have the potential to employ more than ten people and achieve €1 million in export sales within three years. BioExel has the potential to support up to 14 Small to Medium Enterprises (SME’s) based in the western region from 2017 to 2019. Bank of Ireland Seed and early stage equity fund have committed €300,000 to this programme. A call for further participants will be made this summer 2018. For more information about the programme, visit: -Ends- 

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

First year students from Coláiste Iognáid in Galway win two BT Young Scientist awards for their project, ‘Think Before You Drink: Microplastics’  Three young Scientists Aoibhe Briscoe, Ellie Concannon, and Kate Owens, first year students at Coláiste Iognáid in Galway, competed for this year’s BT Young Scientist and Technology Awards in the Category Biological and Ecological Sciences with their project ‘Think Before You Drink: Microplastics’. Mentored by NUI Galway, the students won first place in their category and a special award issued by the Environmental Protection Agency for Best Environmental Project presented at the BT Young Scientist 2018. For their project they investigated over 40 tap water samples from 23 primary schools in County Galway for microplastic contamination. They found that 96.9% of all tested samples were contaminated with microplastics and that the level of contamination for drinking water from Galway classrooms (2.7 per 500ml) exceeded the European average of 1.9 per 500ml. The analysis of the samples took place in the lab facilities of the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway under the guidance and supervision of Dr Audrey Morley a lecturer in Physical Geography and member of the Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy research. Dr Morley advised and trained the young scientists on sample collection and analysis and ensured that all procedures followed previously published protocols for microplastic extraction from tap water samples from a global study commissioned by  the journal Orb in 2017*. In addition to the analysis of the tap water samples, contamination controls were measured at regular intervals throughout the experiment to assess and assure the validity of the results. Speaking about the young scientists work on the project, Dr Audrey Morley at NUI Galway, said: “The identification of microplastic using a microscope can be tedious and time consuming, requiring focus and concentration by the analyst. I was very impressed with the level of dedication and persistence that Aoibhe, Ellie, and Kate brought to the project. It is great to see young women so excited about science and determined to bring about change.” BT Young Scientist winner, Kate Owens, said: “The BT Young Scientist experience has inspired me to be part of solving the problems of the future. President Michael D. Higgins spoke to us about Africa being the largest populated continent in the world and the need for young people to be part of developing solutions for the challenges this presents.” “It was a revelation to us that our love of fast fashion is polluting our drink water, simply by washing the clothes we wear. 77.8% of the contamination we detected in the schools water supply were microfibres. Synthetic fabric fibres that are so small that they could not be filtered by the public water works. Plastic bags and bottles, you can actually see and remove, but you cannot see these tiny, almost invisible microfibres that are bio-accumulating in our bodies, now that is truly scary.” Kate added: “Aoibhe, Ellie and I are a great team and we work well together. Audrey’s guidance and patience gave us a solid, scientific method to undertake our testing and that was the key to our credibility. We were total beginners and she was so incredibly generous with her time. We learned so much from her! We felt that our findings were important and that with our presentation ‘sizzle’, we could get politicians to listen, so we practiced our pitch, over and over until we could say it in our sleep and fine-tuned it over the four days at the RDS. Dressed in our lab coats, no-one was safe and we cornered many politicians including Richard Bruton, Micheál Martin and Heather Humphreys. Leo Varadkar got away but we will be looking for him at the Mansion House in May 2018.” Fellow BT Young Scientist winner, Aoibhe Briscoe, said: “I think the BT Young Scientist competition was an amazing experience, we got to meet so many new people and had the chance to learn so many new things. Working in the lab with Audrey was really fun and I enjoyed it so much, it was very time consuming and tiring but every second put into our project was worth it in the end. It has definitely made me more interested in science and I will definitely do it again next year.” BT Young Scientist winner, Ellie Concannon, added: “I would like to do something that makes a change, I would like to speak out for the people who don’t have a voice. I want to have fun, face challenges, and realise my potential in life. The BT Young Scientist competition was an amazing experience, we were able to share our project with lots of people and educate people about our project who had never heard about microplastics, and we were also able to influence people’s choices for the better. We had such a good time we met loads of new people and got to meet people who could really help us with our project. I absolutely loved it.” -Ends-  

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

A research project led by NUI Galway has established that companion robots can have a positive impact on older people living with dementia. Such is the impact of this research, it has been featured in a new European Commission study analysing the impact on society of EU-funded research and innovation in technology for active and healthy ageing. The MARIO project is among 25 projects credited, and the only one in Ireland, with having had the most influence in Europe over the last 11 years. The project is also being featured across Europe this week on the EuroNews TV channel’s Futuris science programme. Welcoming the listing among the top 25 projects, Professor Dympna Casey from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at NUI Galway, and MARIO project coordinator, explained: “Loneliness is a key public health concern across many age groups and especially for older people with dementia. We know that social health and social connectedness are important to the quality of life of people with dementia. Human companionship is the best way of promoting social health but the reality is that our health care services do not have the resources to provide this service. So we devised MARIO to be there for people living with dementia.” To develop the companion robot for people with dementia, NUI Galway put together a consortium of experts from the health care sector, robotics industry and dementia groups. This led to the three year EU Horizon 2020 MARIO project (Managing Active and Healthy Aging with the use of Caring Service Robots), funded by the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. The project involved five EU countries and a team of up to 40 people, and has just reached completion.   A key feature of the project was the user-led design in that the robot was developed with and for people with dementia. The result was MARIO, a 4.5 foot white robot with large animated eyes who can be activated by voice or by a touchscreen which he carries. This allows people with dementia to access the newspapers, listen to their favourite songs, provide reminders of upcoming events, store family photos and connect with their friends and families. Pilot testing of the MARIO robot was carried out with people with dementia and caregivers at three sites in Ireland, the UK and Italy for a period of over 12 months. Professor Casey added: “MARIO was an ambitious project from the beginning. We managed to combine an array of expertise through pan-European partnerships. We brought together expertise in robotics, semantic data analytics, artificial intelligence and interactive touchscreen technology, as well as healthcare and nursing knowledge. However, the most critical element were the older people with dementia and their caregivers, who welcomed MARIO into their lives and allowed us, through their insights and knowledge, to make MARIO into the success he has become.” According to a European Commission review of MARIO: “Providing adequate care to the elderly is essential to ensure that Europe’s senior citizens are able to spend their later years living a healthy, happy and independent life. But without support, many face loneliness, a lack of mobility and exercise, and forgetfulness on a daily basis. However, with the use of modern technology and particularly the development of robotic solutions, Europe’s elderly population can feel young again and lead a much safer and richer life.” The European Commission study considered the key achievements from ICT for Health research projects funded under FP7, the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme (CIP) and Horizon 2020. In doing so it provides a useful consolidated insight across the ‘technology for active and healthy ageing’ portfolio. Ageing poses one of the biggest economic and social challenges for this century. It is estimated that by 2025, more than 20% of Europeans will be 65 or over, and by 2060, one in three Europeans will be aged 65 or over. Furthermore, the ratio of working people to the ‘inactive’ others will shift from 4 to 1 today to 2 to 1 by 2060. To read the European Commission study, Top 25 influential ICT for Active and Healthy Ageing projects, logon to: To watch MARIO on EuroNews, visit: -Ends-

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway will host its Annual Research Day on Thursday, 19 April in the Hardiman Research Building. Professor Edgar Morgenroth from DCU Business School will give a keynote address at 12pm on ‘The Economics of Spatial Planning’. The population of Ireland is projected to increase by one million in 2040 and the Whitaker Research Day will address issues on: How best should government encourage growth in second-tier cities such as Galway to rebalance the country’s economic activity and reduce the pressure on the greater Dublin area? What can be done about the challenges of urban sprawl, congestion and long commutes into our cities? How should we address depopulation in areas of the West of Ireland? Speaking in advance of the Research Day, Professor Alan Ahearne, Director of the Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway, said: “The Irish economy has experienced a remarkable recovery over recent years, but current trends in patterns of regional growth are not sustainable. Greater, smarter investment is needed in smaller cities such as Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford to narrow the gap between Dublin and the rest of the country. We need to invest in infrastructure, in new technologies, and, above all, in the skills and talent of our people.” In his former role at the Economic and Social Research Institute, Professor Edgar Morgenroth helped advise on the framework for Project Ireland 2040, the government’s recently launched strategy for Ireland’s development up to 2040, which includes €116 billion in investment spending over the next decade. The Whitaker Institute at NUI Galway is named after the late Dr T.K. Whitaker, widely recognised for setting Ireland’s economy on a path of internationalisation and modernisation. Throughout his illustrious career, Dr Whitaker demonstrated and implemented innovative ideas and approaches to challenges and issues facing our economy and society. The Whitaker Institute has adopted a similarly innovative, multidisciplinary and transformative approach in its research on challenges facing business and society in Ireland today and internationally.   The event will take place in Seminar Rooms G010 and G011, Ground Floor, Hardiman Research Building, NUI Galway on Thursday 19 April.   Attendance is free. For registration and to download the full schedule, visit:  -Ends-

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Bill Schmarzo, Chief Technology Officer, Internet of Things and Analytics at Hitachi Vantara, has been appointed Honorary Professor at the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics at NUI Galway. Bill is the author of Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business and Big Data MBA: Driving Business Strategies with Data Science. Speaking frequently on the business value of big data and data science, he is considered the ‘Dean of Big Data’. Bill is an avid blogger and frequent speaker on the application of big data and advanced analytics to drive an organisation’s key business initiatives. Bill visited NUI Galway in March of this year, teaching on the MSc in Business Analytics programme. He also teaches at the University of San Francisco School of Management, where he is their first Executive Fellow. Commenting on the new appointment, Dr Denis Dennehy, Programme Director of the MSc Business Analytics, said: “We are delighted to have Bill join the academic team at J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics. Bill’s industry experience in business analytics and passion for teaching is a natural fit for the MSc in Business Analytics programme as our data savvy students develop the technical and business skills that are critical for creating business value from big data.” Bill’s developments include creating the Vision Workshop methodology that links an organisation’s strategic business initiatives with supporting data and analytic requirements. He recently completed a research project at the University of San Francisco titled ‘Determining the Economic Value of Your Data’. Bill’s background includes Chief Technical Officer at Dell EMC and Vice-President of Analytics at Yahoo. He was recently named the #4 Big Data influencer, #4 Data Science and #6 Digital Transformation influencer worldwide by Onalytica. For more information on the MSc in Business Analytics programme, visit: -Ends-

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can now apply online to receive up to €60,000 in financial support to develop innovative ideas, products, and technology within the field of personal nutrition for older adults. NUI Galway is leading the market strategy on the H2020 ‘INCluSilver’ project which aims to support collaboration between SMEs from different sectors to create better nutritional solutions for older adults and improve their quality of life. A €3 million Innovation Voucher Scheme to develop new products and services in this area is currently open for applications with the closing date on Saturday, 15 September 2018. The projects must represent one of INCluSilver’s five collaborative sectors in: agro-food, health, packaging, ICT and creative industries. The INCluSilver project offers three types of innovation vouchers that range in value from €3,000 to €60,000. SMEs from the Republic of Ireland, Denmark, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Spain, Sweden, and the UK can apply. The three types of innovation vouchers include: The Ideas Innovation Voucher, which seeks to support the maturation of relevant ideas and project needs. The Proposal Innovation Vouchers, which seek to support: scalability and internationalisation, demonstration of technology readiness, transferability potential, and economic feasibility analysis. The Intellectual Property Rights Innovation Voucher, which seeks to support SMEs in protecting foreground and results of projects with appropriate tools. Dr Jane Walsh from the School of Psychology at NUI Galway and market strategy lead of INCluSilver, said: “This project provides an excellent opportunity for SMEs working in the nutrition field to avail of much needed support to develop their products.” Irish SMEs interested in applying for the voucher scheme can contact  or further information. -Ends-

Friday, 20 April 2018

NUI Galway spin-out Westway Health has been awarded Best Agri Business in the Business All-Stars competition. Westway Health is developing and commercialising a range of non-antibiotic antimicrobial technologies, to kill all bacteria without allowing the emergence of resistant superbugs. The Business All-Stars competition final was one of the key elements of the Fourth Annual All-Ireland Business Summit powered by Audi, and held in Croke Park on Thursday 19 April. Westway Health is based at the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, and has range of active development programmes in animal and human health. Its lead product in development is for the treatment of bovine mastitis. The Business All-Stars is an annual competition designed to identify, recognise and accredit Irish companies and individuals that have distinguished themselves in the conduct of their business over the last 12 months. Speaking at the event, Kieran F. Ring, CEO Global Institute of Logistics, Deputy Chairperson Adjudication Panel said: “The decision to award Westway Health with Best Agri Business 2018-19 is based on the score achieved in four rounds of intense competition.  The application, supported by references, interviews and independent ratings from the ‘mystery shopper’ process left the adjudication panel in no doubt that Westway Health is richly deserving of this award. We would like to extend our sincere congratulations to all concerned and we wish you every success for the future.” In response to the announcement Dr Ruairi Friel, CEO Westway Health which is based on the NUI Galway campus, said:  “On behalf of Westway Health I would like to express our sincere thanks to the judging panel for awarding us this prize. This is a great source of pride for us and recognition to the great team here at Westway Health who are developing our innovative novel non-antibiotic antimicrobial technologies. The process which led to this award truly stretched us, the structure of the competition required us to put our brand story on paper and gave us the opportunity to reflect on who we are, our growth strategy and above all the value we create for our target audience. The opportunity to hear first-hand feedback from our Judge-Mentor, our existing customers, partners and suppliers through the reference module combined with the results from the mystery shopper round was invaluable. We would like to thank all at the competition for making the effort to listen to our story, understand and accredit our business and above all help us to promote it.” Speaking at the summit, Dr. Briga Hynes, Kemmy Business School, University of Limerick, Chairperson Adjudication Panel summed up the entire process by reminding the enterprises honoured with All-Star that: “Westway Health has demonstrated an ability to innovate and has impressive growth plans which no-doubt reflects the resilience and optimism that are the hallmarks of Irish entrepreneurs. Westway Health bring a real inspiration for what is possible in business in Ireland and provide important role models for the many aspiring entrepreneurs and existing small firms.” In further success at Croke Park, OnePageCRM was awarded Business All-Star CRM at the All Ireland Business All Star Awards 2018.  In response to the announcement OnePageCRM CEO Michael FitzGerald said, “This was our first year taking part in the Business All-Star awards. It enabled us the opportunity to spread our story and encouraged us to put our best foot forward! So to be named an All-Star CRM is a superb achievement for the team.”  Based at NUI Galway's Business Innovation Centre, OnePageCRM launched in 2010  has grown from strength to strength with over 10,000 paying customers and 25 employees today. The competition finals benefited enormously from the atmosphere created at the All-Ireland Summit which was driven by the three key pillars of knowledge sharing, facilitating new business relationships and the continued improvement of business standards in Ireland, the All-Ireland Summit improves year-on-year – like so many of the great teams to have graced the hallowed turf of Croke Park. Both companies are now included in the 2018-19 All-Stars Role of Honour, the list is published annually to coincide with the All-Ireland Business Summit at Croke Park.  Applications for 2018-19's competition open on 1st June 2018. -ENDS-  

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Campus competition in medtech demonstration design Blackstone LaunchPad recently partnered with on-campus medtech titans, BioInnovate Ireland, Translational Medical Device (TMD) Lab, Health Innovation Hub and BioExel at NUI Galway, to challenge its undergraduate and postgraduate students to add their expertise and creativity to a growing innovation ecosystem across campus. The Medtech Innovation Design and Startup (MIDAS) competition is a one-day event where multidisciplinary student teams from across the NUI Galway campus worked together to tackle a major challenge in the medtech space. Teams were comprised of students from various disciplines – ranging from business to engineering to medicine to the life sciences – and attended interactive sessions and workshops delivered by domain experts. Six teams worked together to identify a potential solution to an unmet medical need using the Stanford Biodesign innovation process, and designed a prototype and created a business model for their device.  Based on their observations from a real clinical procedure, teams were asked to identify a needs statement related to this procedure and then brainstorm potential solutions. With their solution in mind, teams then developed a business model using the lean startup canvas and ultimately, pitched their venture to a panel of experts including: Mike Wiebolt, Blackstone, New York; Helen Ryan, Medtech angel investor; Dr Liz McGloughlin, BioInnovate Alumna; and Brian Carey, Bank of Ireland. Winning the competition and the recipients of the €2,000 prize fund were students Kemi Awoponle, Katie Gilligan, Cillian Thompson, Brian O’Reilly, and Manmaya Panda. The team presented a novel way to increase the shelf-life of blood bags in order to reduce the number of expired units that are binned each year. Natalie Walsh, Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway, said: “This event showcased the high calibre of students that we have at NUI Galway. Seeing individuals come together to form high-performing teams within the day has been incredible. The ideas presented were well-researched and have potential within the medtech space. We are delighted to have such high calibre mentors, partners and judges spend time with our students today. It is a real endorsement for our programme and exemplifies how students can form part of this critical ecosystem in the West of Ireland.  This event was designed and led by one of our fantastic students Joshua Chao who works as a venture coach with the LaunchPad programme. He is an amazing ambassador for our programme and a real champion for student-led innovation and entrepreneurship at the University.” The success of the MIDAS competition has come on the back of a very productive few months for Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway. The programme now supports over 5,000 students on-campus and in March 2018, the Blackstone LaunchPad global network announced a partnership with Techstars. Techstars will provide current Blackstone LaunchPad participants with access to their network of over 10,000 mentors, founders and investors; signature events; and world-renowned content and startup services. In the last 10 years, more than 1,000 Techstars portfolio companies have collectively raised over $4.4 billion in total funding, and are now valued at $11.4 billion. Blackstone LaunchPad is part of a portfolio of innovative programmes at NUI Galway supported by the Galway University Foundation; other programmes include BioInnovate, BioExel, EXPLORE, and TechInnovate. -Ends-

Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) has been awarded Best Contribution to Data Science from an Academic Research Body at the 2017 DataSci Awards NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for High-End Computing (ICHEC) received the Best Contribution to Data Science award at the 2017 DataSci Awards for work in producing two high-resolution Numerical Weather Prediction simulations, which will enable ground-breaking climate research for Ireland. The data from these simulations has the potential to inform public policy, the Irish energy sector and a wide range of research in fields such as climate change trends, agriculture, disaster prevention, renewable energy, and socio-economic planning. ICHEC Climate Change lead Dr Paul Nolan said: “This work was made possible through Ireland’s national supercomputer Fionn and ICHEC’s expertise. Weather and climate shape economies and infrastructures that touch upon nearly every aspect of our daily lives, from food supply to recreational activities to energy resources.” Dr Nolan added, “We would hope that this recognition will showcase the importance of homogeneous, long-term, gridded datasets to be utilised within industry, research and public sectors.” The simulations were run on the ICHEC supercomputing systems with the research funded by an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) climate research project. The datasets were analysed in detail for energy applications. This energy research component was funded by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The aim of this work is to promote and make the data publicly available for researchers, policy makers, the general public and Irish industry. The provision of these datasets support Ireland's renewable energy commitments. For example, under the EU Directive on the Promotion of the Use of Renewable Energy (2009/28/EC, NREAP), Ireland is committed to ensuring that 16% of the total energy consumed in heating, electricity and transport is generated from renewable resources by 2020. -Ends-

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Galway City Council and NUI Galway have signed an agreement to formalise joint plans for collaboration and development in Galway city. The signing of the “Poitiers Declaration” means NUI Galway is the latest of the Coimbra Group of long-established, multidisciplinary research European universities to agree cooperation initiatives within their local socio-economic environment.   Galway joins cities from Barcelona to Vilnius in setting a programme of collaboration in areas as diverse as economic development, public transport and sport. Over the coming years, joint initiatives will include: Sharing the benefits and impact of research and education locally, nationally and internationally. Development of policies to attract companies as well as medical, social and cultural services and activities. Internationalisation of the activities of the University and the city. Support for the expansion of youth entrepreneurship directly linked to research. Rethinking of public transport and urban mobility, with attention to the needs of the student population. Promotion of sport among students and all citizens. Speaking at the signing, The Mayor of the City of Galway, Councillor Pearce Flannery said, “This is a unique occasion for Galway City Council to hold its meeting in the Aula Maxima and to sign and endorse the Potiers declaration to enhance collaboration between the University and Galway City Council.” The University has made it a strategic priority to serve and engage with its diverse communities through enhanced relationships on campus, in the region and around the world. As a hub for start-ups, and through extensive research collaboration with industry and public bodies, the University places a strong focus on supporting regional economies. Through community engagement and partnerships, particularly in the arts and sport, the University supports social and cultural development as part of a holistic approach to regional development. Speaking today, Dr Jim Browne, NUI Galway President added: “NUI Galway has a strong tradition of collaboration within our region, and we are delighted to formalise these commitments with Galway City Council. For our communities to flourish, we need an environment which cultivates talent. The West is renowned for this, and we look forward to working with Galway City Council to develop supports that encourage social prosperity and economic growth.”  -Ends-

Thursday, 28 September 2017

NUI Galway has this week announced the appointment of Natalie Walsh as Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad. Blackstone LaunchPad is a campus-based experiential entrepreneurship program open to students, alumni, staff and faculty; offering coaching, ideation and venture creation support. Blackstone LaunchPad is modelled on a successful program that originated at the University of Miami and was further expanded by the Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “Blackstone LaunchPad is an integral part of the vibrant innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem here at NUI Galway. Natalie has been instrumental in its success to date, which has seen the LaunchPad work with over 3,500 individual members of the NUI Galway community.  In her new role as Executive Director, Natalie will undoubtedly increase the positive impact the Launchpad has on entrepreneurial activities and ideation on campus.” Amy Stursberg, Executive Director of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation, said: “We are thrilled to have Natalie assume this leadership role with Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway. We are grateful for her contributions to our growing global network to date and look forward to seeing Blackstone LaunchPad’s continued success at the University as Natalie takes the helm.” Prior to taking up the role of Executive Director of Blackstone LaunchPad, Natalie has worked as the Programme Manager of this initiative in addition to being the administrative lead on the original proposal which saw Blackstone LaunchPad choose NUI Galway as its first international site outside of the US. Natalie brings a decade of experience working in the technology and software space in addition to over 10 years’ experience working in senior roles at NUI Galway including leading the EU Horizon 2020 funding team which was announced as the highest performing Higher Education Institute in Ireland for the programme in 2015. She has worked across the public and private sectors as a mentor, program developer and lecturer. In 2016, Natalie was a finalist in the WMB Boots Empowering Women Awards.  Last week saw the announcement of the 2017 finalists and her work within the Blackstone LaunchPad programme has again been acknowledged for empowering female students on campus through a variety of supports and initiatives. The award ceremony will take place in the Shelbourne Hotel on the 2 October. A graduate of NUI Galway, with a Masters in Strategy, Innovation and People Management and a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours Degree), Natalie is also studying for a PhD in Entrepreneurship at Trinity College Dublin. Blackstone LaunchPad is co-funded by the Galway University Foundation and Blackstone Charitable Foundation. Blackstone LaunchPad at NUI Galway: -Ends-

Thursday, 21 September 2017

NUI Galway, WestBIC and GMIT recently welcomed InBIA to Galway to share knowledge and explore opportunities for collaboration. InBIA is among the world’s largest member-based entrepreneurial support network and a leader in building thriving, sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystems, and supporting programs across a wide range of industrial sectors. In over 62 countries it represents 2,200 businesses, co-working spaces and entrepreneurship support organisations who are dedicated to encourage unique start-ups in their communities. InBIA is interested in integrating Galway’s dynamic start-up ecosystem with its international network of entrepreneurial supports. The meeting in Galway identified reciprocal opportunities for ‘soft-landing’ supports by facilitating west of Ireland early-stage companies to enter the US and other international markets, and for InBIA’s global network of companies to enter the EU through Galway’s start-up ecosystem. Fiona Neary, Innovation Manager at NUI Galway’s Business and Innovation Centre, said: “The region already has a strong brand globally in Research Development and Industry support, so we must continue to put the structures in place to ensure we are the go-to location for start-up supports, accelerator programmes, co-working spaces and other entrepreneurial supports committed to nurturing start-ups in the community.” InBIA’s visit was a timely follow-up to a recent report by WestBIC and Galway City Council on Enterprise and Incubation supports in Galway. An inadequate pipeline of suitable enterprise development space was identified as a key deficiency. The report also identified a key opportunity for greater co-operation between the key institutions supporting the region’s enterprise development ecosystem. As long-established key innovation enablers within this ecosystem, NUI Galway, GMIT and WestBIC deliver a closely aligned and complimentary portfolio of support measures for the start-up community. The meeting with InBIA explored further opportunities to combine these resources to enhance the participation of the west region in growing knowledge-based jobs, and accelerate regional enterprise creation. These supports are delivered from four Business Innovation Centers (covering over 120,000 square feet) including co-working space, company offices, labs, training, and innovation space. Collectively these facilities house over 160 innovative start-up companies, employ hundreds of staff, and offer enterprise supports and many regional initiatives such as; BioInnovate, Halo Business Angel programme, Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers programme, Blackstone LaunchPad, TechInnovate, Accelerator programmes, and the Empower Women’s Entrepreneurship programme. Chris Coughlan, Chair of WestBIC, says: “This opportunity could facilitate Galway to compete globally with the east coast not to mention other countries also trying to attract such start-ups to their market. By the reciprocal nature of such an arrangement, West of Ireland companies looking to enter the US market could avail of low cost support partners on the ground brokering more accurate targeting of relevant supports, plus supply of services as well as networking opportunity this brings to everyone.” “The opportunities for new business development in Galway and the West of Ireland are really exciting”, said Rick Officer, GMIT Vice President for Research and Innovation. “We look forward to working collaboratively with InBIA and our regional partners to resource and deliver even better enterprise supports. Together we can make Galway an internationally recognised hub for enterprise creation and incubation.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Research excellence was celebrated at NUI Galway this week with the announcement of a series of high-profile awards at the annual Research and Innovation Symposium. The awards were made to members of the NUI Galway research community by the University’s President. Accolades included the annual President’s Awards for Research Excellence and the Ryan Innovation Award. Announcing the awards, which are now in their fourth year, NUI Galway President, Dr Jim Browne said: “These awards are made to members of our research community in recognition of their outstanding and innovative research. Today’s event is an important event in the University’s calendar. It is about recognising and rewarding the very significant research contributions made by our staff and the importance of this in enhancing the reputation of our University internationally. Research affects daily life in many ways and ultimately the goal of most research is to understand and enhance the world around us.” The 2017 Ryan Award for Innovation went to a team led by Dr Michel Dugon at the School of Natural Sciences, whose lab is exploring the venom of Irish spiders as a potential source of antimicrobial compounds. Dr Dugon’s team also included NUI Galway’s Dr Ronan Sulpice, Professor Olivier Thomas, Professor Vincent O’Flaherty and Professor Afshin Samali. The €25,000 Ryan Award for Innovation is aimed at recognising and facilitating the development and translation of innovative ideas in the area of environment, marine and energy, into outputs with societal and economic impact. This initiative has been supported by the Tony Ryan Trust and builds upon past generous support from the Ryan Family. In addition, the winners of the 2017 President’s Awards for Research Excellence were announced as: Early Stage Researcher Dr John Cullinan (School of Business and Economics) Dr Anne O’Connor (School of Languages, Literatures and Cultures) Dr Derek Morris (School of Natural Sciences) Established Researcher Professor Brian McGuire (School of Psychology) Dr Frances Fahy (School of Geography and Archaeology) Dr Paul Buitelaar (School of Engineering and Informatics) Research Supervisor  Professor Kieran Conboy (School of Business and Economics) Dr Conor O’Byrne (School of Natural Sciences) At the event, Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President of Research at NUI Galway, spoke about the focus of the University’s research: “The purpose of our research is to benefit humanity, society and the economy. In pursuit of this, our talented and ambitious research community collaborate with other universities, companies and non-governmental organisations around the world. This capacity to collaborate means that our research reputation takes us from the west of Ireland, to the heart of Europe and into the top 1% of universities in the world.” The Research and Innovation Symposium also included an interactive panel session with a focus on early career researchers, as well on talks on Horizon 2020 by Dr Sean McCarthy of Hyperion, and Research Integrity by Dr Maura Hiney of the Health Research Board. -Ends-

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Pioneering project to determine the potential of a synthetic product to advance the study and treatment of respiratory disease CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, based at NUI Galway, has recently signed a collaborative research agreement with Factor Bioscience, a US based biotechnology SME that is pioneering nucleic-acid and cell-based technologies to advance the study and treatment of disease, including respiratory disease. This is the US company’s first collaboration in Ireland. The project goal is to determine the translational potential of a synthetic product from Factor Bioscience for use in Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS). ARDS often affects the elderly and occurs when fluid builds up in the air sacs in the lungs and prevents them from filling with enough air. This means less oxygen is available to reach the bloodstream which deprives the organs of the oxygen they need to function properly. ARDS typically occurs in people who are already critically ill or who have significant injuries, and many people who develop ARDS don’t survive. Those who do can experience lasting damage to their lungs. “Factor engages in research collaborations to advance and deploy our technologies as quickly and broadly as possible”, says Matt Angel, Co-founder of Factor Bioscience. “We are an early-stage biotechnology company based in the Boston area with an Irish subsidiary, and we are looking to grow our operations in Ireland. By partnering with CÚRAM on this project we can access leading experts and resources in the medical device field, which will hopefully allow us to progress much faster in finding a better solution for patients suffering from ARDS. Currently we are developing synthetic protein-encoding RNA therapeutics using our patented and patent-pending chemistries and sequences. In the near term, we are interested in expanding our technology in the area of delivering these therapeutics to various tissues and organs in the body.” Dr Daniel O'Toole, a CÚRAM collaborator in the School of Medicine will coordinate the collaborative laboratory research at NUI Galway, said: “Factor Bioscience has an exciting panel of innovative and highly promising therapeutics that we feel have real potential to address unmet clinical needs. We’re looking forward to developing and testing these for treatment of a range of inflammatory and infectious diseases.” CÚRAM is working to develop a positive, long lasting impact on the MedTech sector as well as for patients suffering from chronic illness. The global financial cost of managing chronic illnesses are ever increasing and both clinical and economic needs have to be met. CÚRAM’s goal is to come up with affordable solutions to meet these needs. The project was developed following an introduction to both partners, facilitated by IDA Ireland in Boston. “I am delighted to have been able to make the introduction between CÚRAM and Factor Bioscience and to hear it has resulted in an exciting new research partnership”, said Ivan Houlihan, Vice President of IDA Ireland, Boston. “Making connections and facilitating introductions between companies and third-level institutions and research centres is a key function of IDA Ireland, we try to ensure the necessary skills, experience and research capabilities exist to drive their business forward.” Professor Abhay Pandit, Scientific Director of CÚRAM, said: “Key to our success is our collaboration with industry partners to continue to enhance medical device technologies and their clinical application. Through collaborations such as these we can strengthen the R&D capability in Ireland to support the growth of a vibrant start up community within the MedTech ecosystem.” -Ends-

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

The EU has given funding of €2.5 million, to an NUI Galway spin-out which is taking on the global challenge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Westway Health was set up in 2012 to commercialise a breakthrough antimicrobial technology developed in NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences. Since its inception, the company has won multiple awards and is bringing to market a product for use in the dairy sector, based on its patented technology. Its novel antimicrobial technologies have a range of applications beyond animal health, including human health and environmental sterilisation, and the funding will be used to advance the development of the company's lead product in development for the treatment of bovine mastitis. The World Health Organisation has said antibiotic resistance is putting the achievements of modern medicine at risk. It has pointed out that organ transplantations, chemotherapy and surgeries such as caesarean sections become much more dangerous without effective antibiotics for the prevention and treatment of infections. Dr Ruairi Friel, CEO of Westway Health, explains further: “The growing emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is now described as a ‘ticking time bomb’. This could return healthcare to a pre-antibiotic era, where common infections can become fatal. Our solutions are proving effective against all microorganisms we have tested, including antibiotic-resistant bacteria such as MRSA.” Westway Health’s innovative approach has been to find an alternative to antibiotics. “The genesis of the idea was knowing that there are other ways to kill bacteria like MRSA. This is done every day around the world using disinfectants for example, or through steam cleaning. What we have been able to develop is a new method of killing bacteria which does not harm living tissue. Our solution is based on a combination of compounds inspired by nature, and if we can develop and scale our solution we believe we can help tackle this global challenge of antibiotic-resistance. Based in NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre, Westway Health’s lead product in development is PanaMast™ LC, a disruptive product for the treatment of mastitis in lactating cows, with a further product, PanaMast™ DC, for treatment of dry cows in the company product pipeline, collectively a billion-euro market. Speaking about Westway Health’s prospects, Dr Ruairi Friel added: “Our trials have been very encouraging and the feedback from farmers is positive.” The company has specifically focused on the treatment and prevention of bovine mastitis (infection of the udder) which is a major health and economic issue, costing the dairy industry in the EU and US over €3 billion a year. Conventional antibiotics are currently used to treat mastitis. However, this solution has poor treatment outcomes, leading to culling of cows and lost milk revenues, as milk from cows treated with antibiotics must be withdrawn from sale for a period of time during and after treatment. Westway Health’s product, PanaMast, is the first non-antibiotic solution meaning farmers can continue to sell milk during and following treatment.  As up to 80% of dairy cows exhibit some signs of infections at some stage each year, this will have a major impact on the bottom line of farmers and milk producers. In 2013, the company won the IntertradeIreland Seedcorn Competition and secured a Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Award in 2016. -Ends-

Friday, 14 July 2017

NUI Galway will test leading international concepts for the next generation of tidal and hydrokinetic turbine blades to power the world The MaRINET2 project has awarded €1.3 million to 34 technology development teams through a competitive call for proposals. This support will accelerate the next generation of offshore renewable energy technologies towards the marketplace by providing technology testing at MaRINET2’s network of world-leading testing facilities. Coordinated by MaREI (Marine and Renewable Energy Ireland), MaRINET2 is a €10.5 million project, funded by the European Commissions’ Horizon 2020 programme. The project provides support to technology developers of offshore wind, wave and tidal technologies to test their devices in research facilities and in real sea conditions. It is a continuation of the highly successful MaRINET project which ran from 2011-2015. MaRINET2 project gives free access to testing facilities to companies and researchers all over the world with NUI Galway offering its state-of-the-art ‘Large Structures Test Cell’ at the large structures laboratory, located at the University’s Alice Perry Engineering Building, to test full scale tidal blades (up to 9 metres). As a result of the first call for proposals in MaRINET2, two technology development teams have been awarded funding to facilitate 50 days of testing in the state-of-the-art tidal turbine blade testing facility at NUI Galway. These teams are led by Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd in Scotland, a world leader in the development of floating tidal stream and run-of-river turbines, and Verdant Power based in the US, a world leader in developing marine and hydrokinetic technologies and projects, generating clean renewable energy from tidal and river currents. Dr Jamie Goggins, lead Principal Investigator of the Structures and Materials research area in the MaREI Centre, and who is responsible for the large structures test facility located at the Alice Perry Engineering Building at NUI Galway, said: “It is great that there was such great interest from tidal stream and river turbine developers to access our large structures test cell for free through the MaRINET2 programme. We look forward to working with Verdant Power and Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd to assist them in de-risking their technologies through rigorous testing in our laboratory.” Dr Jimmy Murphy, co-ordinator of MaRINET2 said the announcement would be a significant boost to the development of offshore renewable energy technology in Europe: “In order to bring their product to market, it is essential for technology developers to de-risk their technologies through rigorous and staged testing programmes. With today’s announcement, the MaRINET2 project is supporting 34 technology developers to do just that. “What’s more, by helping technology developers test at facilities across the EU, and encouraging knowledge sharing and collaboration, MaRINET2 is strengthening Europe’s position as a centre of excellence for offshore renewable energy research.” -Ends- 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

The north and west of Ireland is to benefit from an investment of over €3 million in research initiatives. The support has been granted to NUI Galway by an EU programme which supports innovative projects addressing regional challenges. NUI Galway will coordinate four projects and partner in an additional six as part of the Atlantic Area InterReg Programme. The national representative body for the Programme, the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, was at the University today (6 July) for the announcement. The NUI Galway-led projects are in the areas of sustainable fishing, biomedical devices, sustainable fuels and the marine economy. Speaking at the announcement today, NUI Galway’s President, Dr Jim Browne said: “Our University’s stated aim in research is to anticipate and serve the needs of society and economy. This becomes even more pertinent when we consider the needs of the region here in the west of Ireland, and our commitment to supporting those who live and work along the Atlantic seaboard. What these projects have in common, is that they seek to drive innovation to support the long term sustainability of our region - in a range of ways from the fishing industry to the biomedical industry, seeking to safeguard our environment by developing new energy sources and to support the marine economy as a whole.” The Atlantic Area InterReg Programme’s objective is to implement solutions to answer the regional challenges in the fields of innovation, resource efficiency, environment and cultural assets, supporting regional development and sustainable growth. Countries who are part of the programme include France, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom. David Minton, Director of the representative body for the Programme, the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, said: “The Northern Western Regional Assembly is striving to connect the strengths of our region and drive convergence to regional collaboration. NUI Galway is a world leader in the application of innovation and research to regional and national challenges. The University itself is an established cultural and learning asset. This funding will deliver a four-fold return on investment.” The four NUI Galway-led projects are: Cephalopods, Sustainable Fisheries and Chefs – ‘CephsandChefs’ Dr Anne Marie Power, Lecturer in Zoology and a member of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, is leading a project called CephsandChefs. The project will analyse ‘from sea to table’, the fishing and consumption of squid, octopus and cuttlefish (cephalopods). CephsandChefs will collect biological and socioeconomic data from different Atlantic area cephalopod fisheries to improve knowledge of the value chain and the factors affecting sustainability in the short and long term. Researchers will also investigate consumer eating habits in North and South Europe, and look at people’s willingness to adopt new products from this seafood class. This information will pave the way for the development and promotion of new products and new markets for the fishing and production sector, while ensuring the sustainability of fishing activity. Establishing a transnational advanced pilot manufacturing ecosystem for future biomedical products - ATLANTIC-KET-MED Dr Ger O’Connor, Senior Lecturer in Physics, and funded investigator in CÚRAM at NUI Galway, is leading a project called ATLANTIC-KET-MED, which aims to create new innovation capacity by establishing an inter-regional pilot manufacturing ecosystem by developing both human and infrastructural resources. The project will apply key enabling technologies such as photonics, nanotechnology, printed electronics, bioprinting, additive manufacturing and advanced materials to make a new generation of medical devices. In the longer term, the project will help establish regional productive systems for extracting greater value from the marine based biomaterials along the Atlantic area. Sustainable integration of renewable fuels in local transportation – SEAFUEL Dr Pau Farras, Lecturer in Chemistry at NUI Galway, will lead a project called SEAFUEL. SEAFUEL aims to demonstrate the feasibility to power local transportation networks using fuels produced by renewable energies and seawater, with no net carbon footprint. It will cover technical innovation by a demonstration plant in the Canary Islands. The project will then develop a framework for policy implementation and a sustainability analysis of production, distribution and usage of hydrogen as an alternative fuel in remote Atlantic regions including the Aran Islands. Maritime, Ocean Sector and Ecosystem Sustainability: fostering blue growth in Atlantic industries – MOSES Dr Stephen Hynes, Director of the Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) at NUI Galway’s Whitaker Institute, will examine the size and growth of key strategic marine industries across the Atlantic Arc and will propose the ‘blue’ growth path for the sustainable development of the major sectors operating in the Atlantic space as envisaged in the Atlantic Action Plan and the EU Blue Growth Strategy. To achieve these aims, the project participants will build on the expertise gained in the EU INTERREG Atlantic IV project, Marine Atlantic Regions Network (MARNET). For more information about the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, visit: -Ends-

Friday, 30 June 2017

NUI Galway publishes report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy that shows in 2016 the direct economic value of the ocean economy was €1.8 billion representing a 20% increase on 2014 NUI Galway’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) has published its fourth report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy as part of their ongoing process of collection and analysis of marine socio-economic data in Ireland. Results from the report show that in 2016, the direct economic value of Ireland’s ocean economy was €1.8 billion or approximately 0.9% of gross domestic product (GDP), which represents a 20% increase on 2014 levels. Latest figures suggest that our ‘blue economy’ is performing better than the general economy. “This report shows Ireland’s ocean economy is experiencing sustained levels of economic growth both across established and emerging marine industries”, reports Dr Amaya Vega of SEMRU, based at the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI Galway. Summary The ocean economy had a turnover of €5.7 billion in 2016. The indirect economic value in 2016 amounted to €1.57 billion, with a total direct and indirect value of €3.37 billion, which represents 1.7% of GDP. The ocean economy provided employment to over 30,000 individuals, full-time equivalents (FTEs) in 2016. Established Marine Industries had a turnover of €5.3 billion and provided employment to 28,231 FTEs in 2016, representing 93% of the total turnover and 94% of total employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2016. Oil and gas exploration and production, marine aquaculture and tourism and leisure in marine and coastal areas, all experienced a significant increase in activity, with turnover, GVA and employment increasing across the sector in the 2014-2016 period. The shipping and maritime transport sector also exhibited increases, albeit of a smaller scale, across all three variables. Emerging Marine Industries had a turnover of €383 million and provided employment to close to 2,000 FTEs representing 7% of the turnover and 6% of employment in Ireland’s ocean economy in 2016. Advanced marine technology products and services and marine renewable energy experienced the largest increases in turnover and gross value add (GVA), while employment rose in all emerging sectors in the 2014-2016 period. Dr Stephen Hynes, co-author of the report and director of SEMRU at NUI Galway, points out: “Our latest ocean economy figures demonstrate that Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth is moving steadily towards its 2030 targets. The latest data demonstrates the growing influence of ocean related economic activity in our economy but it should also be kept in mind that the influence of the ocean on Irish society is even more pervasive than indicated by these figures. The ocean also provides key ecosystem services that underpin many of the identified marine industries and is integral not just to the economy, but also to our culture. SEMRU is currently also examining the value of some of these non-market benefits of the ocean.” The Marine Institute also welcomed publication of the report on Ireland’s Ocean Economy with Dr Peter Heffernan, CEO commenting: “The very latest figures on Ireland’s Ocean Economy from SEMRU at NUI Galway show that Ireland’s ‘blue economy’ continues to outperform the general economy. These very timely marine economic statistics are a key action of the Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth Strategy and are essential for evidence-based policy making and decision making. It’s really encouraging to see that established sectors are performing so well, and that emerging sectors such as advanced marine technology products and services and renewable energy are experiencing rapid growth in Ireland’s ocean economy.” ‘Harnessing our Ocean Wealth’ Targets: Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth (HOOW) – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland, published in July 2012, outlines a number of specific targets which seek to expand Ireland’s ocean economy. One of those targets aims to double its value to 2.4% of GDP by 2030. This 2.4% figure was based on a total estimate (both direct and indirect Gross Value Added) in 2007 for the Irish Ocean economy that amounted to 1.2% of GDP at that time. The total direct and indirect value of the Irish ocean economy is estimated in the new report to be €3.37 billion which represents 1.7% of total GDP in 2016. Based in the Whitaker Institute for Innovation and Societal Change at NUI Galway, SEMRU conducts research on a variety of marine related issues. The main research focus of the unit is on the economic importance of coastal and off-shore marine environments. This involves examining the economic utility of the marine environment (transportation, recreation) and ecological value (fisheries, aquaculture) derived from the productivity of associated ecosystems. The coastal and contiguous marine environment surrounding Ireland and the EU in general provides the geographical focus for the research carried out in the unit. Consideration of the human dimension in the management of marine ecosystems is also a critical component of all research projects undertaken. Since its establishment in 2009, SEMRU has been successful in attracting research funding to support the expansion of its marine socio-economic research programme. The unit is now a partner in a number of European-funded projects in the area of the socio-economics of the marine environment. Ireland’s Ocean Economy Report Series is carried out with the support of the Marine Institute and is funded by the Irish Government’s Marine Research Programme (Grant-Aid Agreement No. PBA/SE/16/01). The full report is available to download online at: For more information on SEMRU, please visit -Ends-

Thursday, 29 June 2017

As part of SeaFest 2017, which opens this weekend in Galway, NUI Galway will host several events to celebrate and highlight the importance of business development and research in the marine industry. A two-day Marine Trade Show will take place this week 29-30 June, in a purpose-built marquee on the grounds of NUI Galway, to coincide with the Digital Ocean Conference and Our Ocean Wealth Summit as part of SeaFest 2017. The Marine Trade Show will showcase some of the highly innovative products and services emerging from companies across all sectors of the marine economy. Over 60 organisations will display their products and services in the Trade Show marquee on the College Lawn and in the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway where exhibitors will showcase their cutting-edge research and products that contribute to the marine industry. Participating industry exhibitors include; Microsoft Ireland, Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Sea Fisheries Protection Authority, Circular Ocean, The Whitaker Institute, NUI Galway, Planet Ocean, Marine Institute – Ireland’s Digital Ocean, Diatec, InnaLabs, JFC Marine, RealSim Marine, Éire Composites Teoranta, Wood Group Kenny, Planet Ocean, Marine Institute – Ireland’s Digital Ocean and many more. On Friday, 30 June the Bailey Allen Hall at NUI Galway will host ‘Our Ocean Wealth Summit’. Now in its fourth year, the Summit forms a key part of the Government’s integrated plan for Ireland’s marine sector, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth, and will bring together world renowned speakers, industry experts, business development agencies and the Irish business and marine research community for focused discussions on this year’s theme of ‘Rethinking Boundaries and Innovation for a Sustainable Marine Economy’. The Summit is sponsored by PwC Ireland. Speakers include Tom Kelley of award-winning global design and development firm, IDEO, who will inspire business leaders to engage in creative thinking and challenge perspectives to encourage new ideas and approaches on how Ireland can continue to transform its marine industry. Tom Kelley will be joined by a host of national and international thought leaders and industry experts including Dan O’Brien, Chief Economist of the Institute of International and European Affairs; Miguel Marques, Partner and Economist of the Sea, PwC Portugal; Terry Garcia, former VP National Geographic and CEO of Exploration Ventures; Andrew McDowell, VP, European Investment Bank; Wendy-Watson Wright, CEO of Ocean Frontier Institute Canada, and many more. The Digital Ocean – Ireland’s Marine Engineering and Technology Conference, will also be held as part of SeaFest 2017 and will take place on Thursday, 29 June. This event will build on the success of the inaugural Digital Ocean Conference in 2016 and will highlight how technology companies are driving new forms of innovation in Ireland’s blue economy. Ireland is internationally recognised as a leading hub for marine technology innovation due to its significant marine resource, its leading technology expertise and its world-class test-bed infrastructures. The conference will feature a selection of international marine technology companies; innovative Irish Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs); and Ireland's world-class technology and research centres. The programme will focus on specific opportunities for technology innovations to drive the global blue economy. A unique exhibition on Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole, Cold Recall – Roald Amundsen’s Reflections from the South Pole will continue to run in the main foyer of the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance. The exhibition is based on images from the original lantern slides that Norwegian Polar Explorer Roald Amundsen used in public lectures about his expeditions through the Northwest Passage and to the South Pole. Amundsen was the first in the world to navigate the Northwest Passage and the first to reach the South Pole on 14 December 1911. Norwegian Polar history is closely connected to defining Norway as an independent state in 1905, and to Norway’s position as a state closely connected to the oceans and to polar regions. The exhibition runs until 8 July 2017. University President, Dr Jim Browne said: “NUI is delighted to partner with the Marine Institute in bringing SeaFest to Galway. We’re particularly pleased to be able to host the important marine conferences - Our Ocean Wealth Summit and Digital Ocean - here on our campus. These events, along with the Trade Show, bring together leading policy-makers, industry leaders, entrepreneurs and academics to discuss the opportunities which Ireland’s marine economy offers.” President Browne, added: “NUI Galway is an international research leader in this field through the work of the Ryan Institute for Environment Energy and Marine research and the Whitaker Institute, where researchers at the Institute’s Socio-Economic Marine Research Unit (SEMRU) analyse the economic importance of the marine environment for a range of national and international bodies. In addition to the two conferences, we’re especially pleased to host the Framm Museum’s month-long exhibition Cold Recall – Roald Amundsen’s Reflections from the South Pole in partnership with the Norwegian Embassy and the Marine Institute. I look forward to welcoming visitors to NUI Galway to enjoy the range of wonderful events on campus associated with SeaFest and I congratulate the Marine Institute on their efforts in bringing such a wonderful event to Galway this year.” SeaFest will take place from 30 June to 2 July with events for all the family throughout Galway Harbour. For full details about Our Ocean Wealth Summit, visit: and Digital Ocean Conference, visit: . For full event details visit, follow @Seafest_ie, SeaFest 2017 on Facebook or download the SeaFest App for free. -Ends-

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Researchers complete project with Longford company BMS to remove floating debris from storm water sewer systems bringing new products to international water treatment markets Researchers in civil engineering at the College of Engineering and Informatics in NUI Galway have recently completed a technology development project with Irish company Butler Manufacturing Services Ltd. The group at NUI Galway have evaluated one of the company’s products, the BMS Stormbreaker Defender, which is a unique device capable of removing floating debris, grit/sand and oils/hydrocarbons from storm water sewer systems. Due to the projected increase in extreme storm and weather events, such as the recently experienced Hurricane Ophelia, existing storm sewers are being put under severe stress due to blockages caused by a flush of materials (such as bottles, plastics, oils, sand) from the urban environment. The Stormbreaker Defender aims to tackle such issues by effectively intercepting and capturing the material before it clogs sewers or makes its way into watercourses, relieving stresses on water infrastructure resulting in significant savings in maintenance costs. The project, led by Dr Sean Mulligan and Dr Eoghan Clifford from NUI Galway, involved a comprehensive investigation of a full-scale model of the Stormbreaker Defender at the Hydraulic and Aerodynamics Laboratory at the University’s Alice Perry Engineering Building. Following the experimental testing and analysis, using in-house cutting edge equipment and instrumentation, the team generated substantial data sets representing the complex flow processes in the device which were used to validate its performance and develop new design tools for the Stormbreaker Defender. Dr Sean Mulligan, Research Associate at the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “It’s great to work with industry, and especially with indigenous Irish companies who are bringing innovative products to the world stage. We have a lot of expertise in fluid dynamics, wastewater treatment and commercialisation which allows us to bridge the gap between the laboratory and the field for companies like BMS.” Dr Eoghan Clifford, lecturer at the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “The project is part of ongoing research undertaken at the department of civil engineering in collaboration with industry and highlights the significance of academic-industrial partnerships in pushing innovative ideas and theories developed by both universities and industry to solve real-world problems in the field.” Based in Longford, Butler Manufacturing Services is a specialist designer and manufacturer of products for the water treatment sector. The company employs 20 people and has products in over 40 countries worldwide. “The opportunity to collaborate with NUI Galway and to access their expertise and facilities, allows us to optimise and evaluate the performance of our BMS Stormbreaker Defender”, said Seamus Butler, Managing Director of Butler Manufacturing Services. “We believe this successful project is the start of a strong partnership between both the NUI Galway research team and our company over the coming years. We are already in discussions with the University on an expanded exploration of this product into wastewater treatment.” To support the expansion of this technology to export markets, Butler Manufacturing Services engaged with the civil engineering research team at NUI Galway. Through an Enterprise Ireland Co-Funded Innovation Voucher, the University was able to undertake a hydraulic evaluation of the technology. -Ends- 

Monday, 13 November 2017

Recent measurements in homes in the West of Ireland have found radon levels equivalent to receiving in excess of 20 chest x-rays per day Researchers at the School of Physics in NUI Galway have found that radon gas levels in houses and buildings in certain parts of Ireland are in excess of levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The National Radon Control Strategy for Ireland has identified knowledge gaps, including the optimum specifications for passive soil depressurisation systems that take account of Irish building practices. The NUI Galway research project, OptiSDS is investigating several of these knowledge gaps. The World Health Organisation has categorised radon as a carcinogen, in the same group as asbestos and tobacco smoke. In Ireland, up to 250 cases of lung cancer each year are linked to exposure to radon. There is a synergistic effect between radon and tobacco smoke. This means that smokers are at much greater risk of developing radon related lung cancer than non-smokers. There is no scientific evidence linking radon with any other types of respiratory illnesses or other cancers. Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas. It has no taste, colour or smell. It is formed in the ground by the radioactive decay of uranium which is present in all rocks and soils. You cannot see it, smell it or taste it. It can only be measured with special detectors. Outside radon is diluted to very low levels. Radon can enter a home from the ground through small cracks in floors and through gaps around pipes or cables. Indoor radon levels can vary across the country from low levels to tens of times in excess of the reference level set by the Environmental Protection Agency. Recent measurements in homes in the West of Ireland have found radon levels equivalent to receiving in excess of 20 chest x-rays per day. Dr Mark Foley Academic Director of the Masters in Medical Physics at NUI Galway, said: “This Environmental Protection Agency funded OptiSDS project is a good example of collaborations between engineers and scientists in NUI Galway and also with collaborators across Europe to address knowledge gaps in radon research. Through outreach events we are also promoting public awareness of radon risk, radon measurement, radon mitigation and radon preventative techniques.” Dr Jamie Goggins, Principal Investigator in the Centre for Marine Renewable Energy Ireland (MaREI) at NUI Galway, said: “One of the main aims of the project is to determine the effectiveness of soil depressurisation systems at extracting radon from under buildings. We are doing this through controlled laboratory tests at NUI Galway, in the development of robust numerical simulations and using a specially designed pilot house in a high radon area in Spain, in collaboration with Professor Luis Quindos in the University of Cantabria. It is imperative that we design and construct safe, healthy, comfortable and energy efficient buildings.” The OptiSDS research project will feature on the RTÉ One show, ‘10 Things to Know About’ series opener today, Monday 13 November at 8.30pm, a week after European Radon Day. This research project is funded by the Environmental Protection Agency. For more information about the OptiSDS project, visit: / -Ends-

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

An innovative multidisciplinary aquaculture project led by NUI Galway and Athlone Institute of Technology is set to improve production efficiencies and management of farmed fish at several inland freshwater sites. The project ‘ECOAQUA’ has received €348,781 in funding under the European Maritime Fisheries Fund (EMFF), administered by Bord Iascaigh Mhara, through the Knowledge Gateway Scheme, on behalf of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine. The output of this project will include new information, new methods, and increased awareness. It has built on capacity for, and developed new partnerships focused on, research and innovation in environment and health. The project aims to test and optimise innovative technologies and processes developed through the linked MOREFISH* project. Led by Dr Eoghan Clifford from NUI Galway and Professor Neil Rowan from Athlone Institute of Technology, with support from Bord Iascaigh Mhara’s technical aquaculture team, ECOAQUA will address critically important needs identified by industry and aquaculture stakeholders including: Analysing the environmental and energy performance of three freshwater aquaculture sites by extensive sampling and remote online monitoring of water parameters. Facilitating the re-use of the treated water, thereby reducing both the volumes of extracted and discharged waters. Enabling the industry to meet stringent environmental regulation while increasing production in a sustainable and cost-effective manner. Piloting technological innovations with industry to ensure the research is easily and rapidly transferrable to the aquaculture sector. Ensuring technological innovations and research results can be leveraged to enable the sustainable growth of this high-potential sector. Enable the industry to leverage the scientific outputs from the project to communicate with government, policymakers and regulators and the public. Dr Eoghan Clifford from the College of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, said: “Aquaculture is recognised to have the potential to address food security concerns in many countries and offer significant economic benefits. Ireland currently ranks as fifth in value and seventh in volume in terms of high value fish species with exports supporting approximately 2,000 jobs. However, the sector in Ireland has remained relatively stagnant and has significant potential to grow, develop export markets and create employment in rural areas. These developments are strongly aligned with Ireland’s FoodWise2025 policy that seeks to grow food exports by 85% to €19 billion by 2025. This research has the potential to introduce innovative monitoring practices, technologies that can enhance the value and sustainability of Irish and European fish stock densities while ensuring the environmental sustainability of the sector.” Professor Neil Rowan from Athlone Institute of Technology, said: “This exciting cross-cutting project leverages on a critical mass of engineering and scientific expertise, industry stakeholders, policy-makers, commercial operators and international experts established through the MOREFISH platform to respond directly to pressing environmental issues that were informed by industry. ECOAQUA will model and profile the global performance (focusing on algal, microbial and energy) of pilot freshwater aquaculture farms, which will ensure that high potential interventions are easily transferable to the industry sector ensuring the intensive sustainability and viability of this industry.” Mr Alan Kennedy, ECOAQUA project manager at NUI Galway, said: “This timely project will improve the water quality of freshwater farms through the incorporation of water treatment technologies and energy reduction interventions into existing flow through farms that will also enable seamless transitions to next-generation production formats.” Damien Toner, Aquaculture Technical Specialist with Bord Iascaigh Mhara, said: “Bord Iascaigh Mhara is delighted to support this innovative and collaborative project. ECOAQUA will provide valuable research into developing improved efficiencies in fish farming that will inform the wider industry on best practice and new technologies to improve sustainability. We are looking forward to working with the teams in NUI Galway and Athlone Institute of Technology on this exciting project.” For further information about the project contact Mr Alan Kennedy, Project Manager, ECOAQUA on 086 8093078 or -Ends-

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

The latest data from NUI Galway’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem shows a strong performance for 2017. The year saw significant high-quality collaborative research and license agreements with industry, and a number of new spin-outs created on campus. A programme was established on campus to provide new business innovators with the supports needed to accelerate their medical technology inventions to the market. Over 1,500 staff and students were actively engaged in entrepreneurship through the University’s education and mentorship programmes, Blackstone Launchpad and Explore. David Murphy, Director of NUI Galway’s Technology Transfer and Innovation Office, said: “To maximise the impact of our research and expertise, NUI Galway puts a strong focus on knowledge transfer, innovation and enterprise collaboration. Galway and the west of Ireland is a thriving and dynamic place for enterprise and entrepreneurs. With a student body of over 18,000, immense research outputs, and an annual research income of over €50 million, our University plays a crucial role in underpinning this ecosystem.” This year’s new spin-outs bring the number of campus-based companies to 34, including other spin-outs and local companies who are based on campus. Two of the new enterprises created on campus this year have the potential to benefit society through novel medical devices and diagnostics technologies: Loci Orthopaedics Ltd, which originates from the BioInnovate Programme and is set to commercialise an innovative orthopaedic thumb implant; and Bioprobe Diagnostics Ltd, emanates from the research of Drs Tom Barry and Kate Reddington from NUI Galway’s Discipline of Microbiology, and has been established to commercialise novel nucleic acid diagnostics technologies for the detection and identification of microbial contaminants associated with the environmental and industrial sectors. NUI Galway provides business supports and excellent facilities including laboratories and co-working spaces to support research and collaborative innovation. Fiona Neary, Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, said: “This community of entrepreneurs is creating jobs and attracting investment, and the calibre of spin out’s from NUI Galway is testament to the high level of research taking place on campus, which is good for the region.” The Business Innovation Centre is very active in applying for the Horizon 2020 Small to Medium Enterprise instrument grants with four client companies already being successful in 2017 with many more progressing in 2018. Two successful companies in 2017 include: NUI Galway spin-out Westway Health, which is taking on the global challenge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, was given funding of €2.5 million by the EU in 2017; and DiaNia Technologies, a start-up who received over €2.5 million in Horizon 2020 funding. Cresco, who specialise in securing international grants and funding for technology-based clients have also established a presence on campus to support these activities. NUI Galway-based entrepreneurs attracting significant attention this year with a number of them receiving accolades include: Dr Brendan Boland, BioInnovate fellow and CEO of NUI Galway spin-out, Loci Orthopaedics, who was the recipient of Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur in the ‘Best New Idea’ category. The company was also the winner of the start-up contest at this year’s Medtech Ireland conference in Galway in October. AuriGen Medical and Loci Orthopaedics were winners in the EIT Health: UK-Ireland HeadStart/Proof-of-Concept Awards. Sarah Loughney, CEO and Founder of Kite Medical was selected by The HealthTech Venture Network as their 2017’s ELEVATE pitch competition winner in Boston. Orreco and Channel Mechanics scooped the IT Association of Galway awards in 2017. NUI Galway Research centres and programmes are also gaining recognition for their contribution to innovation with CÚRAM, the Centre for Research in Medical Devices winning the top award for Academic Contribution to Medtech at the recent Irish Medtech Associations Medtech Rising: The Irish Medtech CEO Conference and Awards ceremony. In recent years, the University has put a particular focus on innovation. In 2017, it saw the launch of Ireland’s first medtech accelerator, BioExel, which will significantly accelerate medtech opportunities which have a specific technical, commercial and/or clinical question to answer in an intensive six-month period. January 2018 will see the first cohort of companies based on campus working with BioExel. BioExel is a partnership programme funded by Enterprise Ireland, Galway University Foundation, the Western Development Commission and Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund, originated and delivered by an experienced Medtech team at NUI Galway. 2017 also marked the seventh year of BioInnovate, the medtech fellowship programme on campus which has resulted in three high-potential spin-outs, with two more in the final negotiation stages and a healthy pipeline of further companies expected. In total, the companies have attracted almost €14 million in a first round of investments. Among NUI Galway staff and students, entrepreneurship is also encouraged and supported at every level. The University’s Blackstone Launchpad is a multi-award winning entrepreneurship programme for staff, students, and alumni at NUI Galway. Since 2016, LaunchPad has supported over 4,500 students, coached over 1,500 sessions, and awarded over €40,000 in funding to support student ventures. In 2017, Coachbook, a student enterprise created, won the Enterprise Ireland Student Entrepreneur of the Year award. -Ends-

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

NUI Galway and Gas Networks Ireland are leading a new transport revolution as they introduce compressed natural gas (CNG) and renewable gas for trucks, vans and buses. The ‘Causeway’ project also marks a first for NUI Galway, as this is the first time that the University has been successful in securing a funding application from the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility. The Causeway project received approval for €6.5 million co-funding from the European Commission. Causeway will see the development of a natural gas transport re-fuelling network in Ireland.  The project will support an overall nationwide roll-out of 70 compressed natural gas filling stations. In addition to this, a renewable gas injection facility will be built in 2018. This will introduce renewable gas into the natural gas network for the first time. The work which is undertaken in Ireland will be monitored and documented by NUI Galway. This research will then be fed back to gas operators all over Europe and will assist in the development of similar projects across the continent. Commenting on the project, President of NUI Galway, Dr Jim Browne, said: “This is a major project for NUI Galway to be involved in, as it will form the basis of the first use of an alternative, sustainable transport fuel in Ireland. Within our Ryan Institute for Environment, Marine and Energy Research, in particular, we have built up a track record in sustainability research and innovation. This includes decades of scientific and engineering expertise built up in the area of renewable gas. We look forward to NUI Galway playing a key role in distilling and disseminating the results and impacts of the Causeway Project, not only for the benefit of Ireland, but to provide learnings to other EU member states too.” Denis O’Sullivan, Head of Commercial at Gas Networks Ireland, explained the importance of the project to Ireland: “Transport accounts for over one third of all energy used in Ireland. The development of a natural gas transport network will significantly de-carbonise Ireland’s commercial fleet. CNG, and the soon to be introduced renewable gas, will play a major role in making transport in Ireland cleaner. Gas Networks Ireland is determined to play an important role in facilitating the development of this new, cleaner transport network. It is particularly important that the advances we are making through this project, and through the work of NUI Galway, will play a role in changing the transport landscape throughout Europe.”  The Causeway project, which is funded under the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), will deliver a clean energy project for Ireland’s transport sector, and in doing so, provide a template for the rest of Europe. NUI Galway is leading the dissemination element of the €25 million project. Its work will facilitate new green energy developments across Europe. Professor Charles Spillane, Director of the Ryan Institute at NUI Galway, praised the application teams: “I congratulate both the Gas Networks Ireland and Ryan Institute teams that worked together diligently, over a couple of years, to bring about the success of the Causeway application to the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility – Transport. I thank current staff Pádraic Ó hUiginn, Dr Rory Monaghan and Suzanne Nolan, amongst others, for enabling the University’s involvement in this successful application. I look forward to the infrastructural roll-out by Gas Networks Ireland and to its impacts, which will be studied and disseminated by a Ryan Institute team at NUI Galway.” -Ends-

Thursday, 21 December 2017

NUI Galway is developing a suite of unobtrusive, wearable electronic devices to help manage the debilitating motor symptom of Parkinson’s disease, referred to as Freezing of Gait. The first generation of the system resulted from NUI Galway’s involvement in the €4.7 million European FP7 project, REMPARK, which had 11 partners across Europe including NUI Galway. As part of this project the University has developed a novel wearable electronic device, called ‘cueStim’, designed to prevent or relieve Freezing of Gait, which is commonly described by people with Parkinson’s, as a feeling as if their feet are stuck or glued to the floor preventing them from moving forward. Dr Leo Quinlan, lecturer in Physiology at the School of Medicine in NUI Galway, and the project’s Co-Principal Investigator, said: “The severity of Freezing of Gait depends on the stage of the disease and it can have a very severe impact on quality of life, affecting people with Parkinson’s ability to walk for extended periods of time and is a common cause of falls in Parkinson’s disease.” The Human Movement Laboratory at the CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices at NUI Galway, is currently working to further enhance the technology, particularly in the area of usability and human factors through the project ‘EScapeFOG’. To achieve this goal, NUI Galway is partnering with Parkinson’s support groups to test and evaluate the usability and human factors of the system. Professor Gearóid Ó Laighin, Professor of Electronic Engineering in the School of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway, and project Co-Principal Investigator, commented: “We are using what is referred to as a User Centred Design methodology, to ensure that the developed technology meets the needs of the intended users. This involves testing all aspects of the system with the Parkinson’s community and seeking their feedback on its usability throughout the design process.” The Human Movement Laboratory at NUI Galway is currently involved in a very effective collaboration with the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group on enhancing the design of the cueStim system, to more effectively meet the needs of people with Parkinson’s using this technology. A recent usability and human factors workshop held at the University was attended by 16 members of the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group. T.J. Waters, PRO for the Clare Parkinson’s Support Group, said: “The opportunity to view at first hand the research being undertaken to improve the quality of life for people with Parkinson’s was an experience not to be missed. Clare Parkinson’s Support Group members are delighted to have an active role in this exciting project, which will be of benefit ultimately to people with Parkinson’s throughout the world.” Any person wishing to participate in future studies involving this device can contact Dean Sweeney, the system’s lead designer at: and 089-2576449. The research was part-funded by the European Commission under the FP7 prgramme and Science Foundation Ireland. -Ends-

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Sean Kyne TD, Minister of State at the Department of Rural and Community Development has launched a new publication, Creative Economies in Peripheral Regions written by Dr Patrick Collins at NUI Galway and Professor James Cunningham at the University of Northumbria. Dr Collins and Professor Cunningham make their policy recommendations for supporting the growth of creative economies in peripheral areas. As a sustainable model for development, one that relies on the infinite resource of human creativity, it has the potential to act as a vital agent in the future growth of peripheral regions in Ireland. NUI Galway has long been recognised as a leading international centre for the creative arts, with strong specialisms in Drama, Theatre, Performance, Visual Arts, Creative Writing, Film, Digital Media and emerging areas in creative production and arts entrepreneurship. The University has formed strong partnerships with the creative arts sector, notably with such institutions as Druid Theatre, the Abbey Theatre and Galway International Arts Festival. In the book the authors make the case for vibrant, creative and cultural economies existing beyond large urban settlements in peripheral regions in Ireland. It is the first publication to map the existence of the creative economy beyond city boundaries. This work takes place within the context of an evolving consumer society where there is increasing recognition of a change in consumer patterns as the modern consumption era matures. Commenting about the new publication, Dr Patrick Collins from the School of Geography and Archaeology at NUI Galway, said: “This book is about putting a positive spin on the term ‘peripheral’. We provide evidence of people, inspired by their place, competing in international markets where the authenticity and creative nature of their produce is in high demand.” Dr Collins added: “As more and more people buy goods that they feel reflect their own individual identity, more of us are expressing ourselves by how we dress, what we eat, what we listen to and where we go on holiday. In doing this we are turning our back on mass produced goods and services. As the market for these kinds of goods laden with expressive values increases, the products from our peripheral regions become more desirable. We argue in the book that it is the connectedness to place; the use of more traditional production techniques; and the imbued sense of authenticity in the produce of the peripheral regions that makes them more and more marketable in a maturing consumer society.” Creative industries mentioned in the book include Telegael in Spiddal, County Galway, a leading feature film, TV drama and animation company with major global partners, which employs over 70 people in high value jobs and is co-producing projects with companies located all across the world, operating from a small village in the West of Ireland. And Druid Theatre, an organisation that produces critically acclaimed theatre productions inspired by the stories of the periphery and bringing them to audiences across Ireland and right around the world. By looking at how these products in more remote areas are produced, the productive practices seen in the case study regions within the book are reflecting those of leading innovative industries. The book shows how creatives in remote regions, collaborate, co-produce, switch codes (writers and visual artists become theatre makers and game designers) that demonstrates an agility that is seen by many as key to productive success. By shining a light on the array of business models adopted by these industries the book highlights a sector that is more connected to its place, and its society in a way that is unique in the modern context. This book will be of value to those from a social science and business background and it will also be of interest to those within this growing sector and those that support it. -Ends-

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Cresco, a leading innovation company based in the UK, specialising in securing international grants and funding for technology based clients, has announced the opening of its first Irish office at NUI Galway’s Business Innovation Centre. NUI Galway is renowned for being a hotbed of innovation, particularly in the Medtech and Biotech industries with its ecosystem growing from strength to strength. The University’s Business Innovation Centre has supported numerous companies, both spin-ins and spin-outs from initial commercial road mapping to scaling up the business opportunity. They support the success of these companies by providing facilities on campus and the ability to carry out research, which is supported by funding bodies such as Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, the European Union and Horizon 2020. To date NUI Galway has been extremely successful in achieving Horizon 2020 grants in a number of funding applications. In 2017, a total of 22 Horizon 2020 proposals were awarded funding, securing almost €9 million in research funds. The Business Innovation Centre is also very active in applying for the Horizon 2020 Small to Medium Enterprise instrument grant with four client companies already being successful in 2017. To continue these funding success’ the arrival of Cresco to the Business Innovation Centre,  the experts in securing international and European grant funding to support academic research is a significant partnership for the University. With its headquarters in the UK, the Cresco team have been working with many Irish companies and have enjoyed unprecedented success winning funding applications through the Horizon 2020 programme. Particularly in phase two stage of applications where Cresco has won over €5.1 million for Irish clients in the last 12 months. Fiona Neary, Manager of the Business Innovation Centre at NUI Galway, said: “This is an exciting partnership with Cresco as NUI Galway continues to transform healthcare and the Medtech ecosystem. Our vision is to create innovative medical technologies which are affordable and transformative for patients with both acute and chronic conditions. This will bring us closer to the patient need, while also stimulating innovation and job creation through high-potential start-ups.” Jo Derbyshire, CEO of Cresco, said: “We are very excited to formally establish our Irish operations. We have been working with Irish clients for some time, and the opportunity of an office at the NUI Galway Business Innovation Centre is the ideal opportunity for us to build on the success we have enjoyed so far, Cresco Ireland is a key pillar of our ‘Brexit’ strategy.” This activity is supported on campus by the office of the Vice-President for Research, CÚRAM, the Science Foundation Ireland Centre for Research in Medical Devices, BioInnovate Medical Technology innovation programme and the first Medtech Accelerator in Ireland, BioExel, all operating from NUI Galway. The partnership with Cresco will lead to further grant potential with commercial impacts for Galway and the wider region, with many discussions already underway with potential University spin out’s and early stage start-up’s. The aim of the Business Innovation Centre is to create an environment which promotes entrepreneurialism and innovation, enhances spin out formation and new business growth. The centre gives companies a prime opportunity to benefit from the first class facilities available at NUI Galway. -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Flag - A new taxi app designed for students will launch in Dublin City this December. The unique app is the only service in the world that allows a passenger to travel and pay for taxis with no phone, cash or bank card while ensuring the driver still gets paid. Flag originally started out as a college project called Dash while inventor Richie Commins was a final year Business Information Systems student at NUI Galway. Since graduating, Richie has combined business graduates and experienced engineers with taxi industry experience from the US and Romania, to upgrade the software into the version the App is today. The latest member recruited to the Flag team is the original founder of, Michael Newham. The app is available in app stores as ‘Flag – The Taxi App’. This is similar to other taxi apps that allow you to get a taxi, however a feature unique to Flag is what is called “The wallet-less feature” where users are required to upload a photo ID and create a personal digit pin code to secure an account. If a situation arises such as a user's phone is dead, the user simply flags a taxi off the street, gives the driver their name and enters the four digit pin on the driver app. The user’s photo appears on the driver’s phone to confirm identity before the fare begins. Payment is processed from the user’s pre-registered card as normal upon arrival at the user’s destination. The creative and innovative app boasts pin point location, tracking and accurate ‘estimated time of arrival’ as well as extra safety features such as the wallet-less payment (the only taxi app in the world to provide this service). Richie has gained support from Enterprise Ireland, Nissan, AIB and many other organisations. Richie said: “I was lucky to eventually get a Chief Technology Officer who manages our large team of engineers to get the app ready for drivers and passengers in both iOS and android. When I started this in college we didn’t even have an app for the students.” An Garda Síochana also supported the project from the early days through their Campus Watch Programme at NUI Galway. Sergeant Pat Flanagan, Officer for Crime Prevention said: “The taxis that have integrated this app have really shown they care about passengers, and hopefully all taxis will soon be branded with the safety it brings.” The project has gathered an incredible momentum since the team were students. The team has decided to focus efforts on launching the upgraded app, Flag, in Dublin only. To show their gratitude for driver support and to encourage more drivers to see how good the app is, Flag will not be charging drivers any commission this Christmas. Flag plans to roll out across the country later in 2018. -Ends-

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

MaREI Researchers help win €9.39 million funding for GENCOMM project  An energy sustainability project in which NUI Galway is a key partner has been given the green light after winning an Interreg North-West Europe funding bid for the €9.39 million GENCOMM Project. GENCOMM aims to answer the energy sustainability challenges facing remote communities across North-West Europe through production and storage of renewable hydrogen. The project will build three pilot facilities fuelled by solar, wind and biomass energy sources to measure their ability to produce and store hydrogen. GENCOMM will assess hydrogen’s viability as a sustainable energy solution for heat, power and fuel for communities across North-West Europe. The NUI Galway research, led by MaREI (Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy) funded Investigator Dr Rory Monaghan, are charged with ensuring the long-term impact of GENCOMM by developing H2GO, an online tool to support investment decisions in hydrogen storage, and establishing CH2F, a community hydrogen energy forum, to drive the adoption of the technology. The project is led by Belfast Metropolitan College, and is one of the largest EU projects ever secured by a lead partner from Northern Ireland. On being awarded the Interreg North-West Europe Programme funding, Dr Monaghan, said: “With its exposure to the power of the Atlantic Ocean, NUI Galway and MaREI are at the centre of North-West Europe’s richest concentration of renewable energy potential. Storing that energy, converting it to a useful form, and transporting it to where it is needed are some of the biggest barriers to a sustainable future. By building pilot plants and applying the knowledge we gain through NUI Galway’s activities, GENCOMM aims to make a major impact on the viability of renewable energy.” Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, said: “The scope of the project and the size of the award are testament to the strength and innovative nature of the project and the high calibre of partner organisations, as we seek to work together to deliver hydrogen-based solutions that will help address energy sustainability challenges to communities across North-West Europe.” NUI Galway is working in conjunction with nine universities and companies across Europe to deliver the GENCOMM Project, including: Belfast Metropolitan College, University Institut National des Sciences Appliquées Rouen Normandie, IZES gGmbH, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, ENSICAEN – CNRS, Pure Energy Centre Scotland, and three further companies in Northern Ireland; Viridian, TK Renewables, and Williams Industrial Services. The NUI Galway GENCOMM team from the College of Engineering and Informatics comprises of Dr Rory Monaghan (Leader), Dr Padraig Molloy and Dr Ed Curry (Co-Leads), Mr Arya Gunawan (PhD Researcher), and Ms Rjaa Ashraf and Mr Wells Tang (Masters researchers). For more information on Project GENCOMM, visit: -Ends-  

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Novel approach to help breast cancer patients’ post-mastectomy wins award An innovative approach to help breast cancer patients post-mastectomy has been awarded the Inaugural Allergan Innovation Award at NUI Galway. Dr Niamh O’Halloran, a researcher with the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, received the award for her project which seeks to use the body’s own cells to avoid complications with implants. The Allergan Award for Innovation, valued at €6,000 provides funding to accomplished scholars who wish to advance their innovative research studies in the field of Life Sciences. The winner was chosen from a competitive field of applicants among the postgraduate and PhD student community at NUI Galway. Allergan, headquartered in Dublin, is a global pharmaceutical company and a leader in a new industry model, Growth Pharma. The company with commercial operations in 100 countries worldwide, is focused on developing, manufacturing and commercialising branded pharmaceuticals, devices and biologic products for patients around the world. Allergan operates four facilities in Ireland, employing 1,800 people, two manufacturing operations, one in Westport, Co. Mayo and one in Clonshaugh, Co. Dublin, a medical technology company ZELTIQ Aesthetics in Galway, and an international supply chain office in Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin. Speaking about the award Paul Coffey, Vice President and Plant Manager of Allergan, Ireland, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with NUI Galway for this year’s Allergan Innovation Award and congratulations to Dr Niamh O’Halloran. To mark 40 successful years of business in Ireland, we wanted to build on our longstanding relationships with communities through providing educational support to universities and colleges around the country, by reaffirming our commitment to the future of Life Sciences.  We wanted to recognise and support scholars who have excelled through innovation research in this field. We hope that this Innovation Award will inspire more students who wish to establish themselves within the field. Collaborating with a prestigious university, such as NUI Galway is an exciting initiative for all involved, and we look forward to the positive results and experiences it will bring for students and for our industry.” Breast cancer is a global pandemic, with the National Cancer Registry predicting that by 2020 there will be approximately 5,000 new cases in Ireland per annum. Despite advances in oncology and the dawn of the molecular era in cancer diagnosis and treatment, an estimated forty per cent of breast cancer patients require mastectomy. Immediate breast reconstruction has become an integral part of breast cancer care, affording psychosocial and aesthetic benefits. However, implants are not without their limitations and the response of the immune system to foreign materials in the human body can lead to complications. Dr Niamh O’Halloran from the School of Medicine at NUI Galway, said: “We want to develop a method of coating implants with a gel biomaterial which incorporates elements of the patient’s own fat tissue. The hydrogel is based on hyaluronic acid, most commonly seen these days in skin creams and beauty products. The patient’s own cells will grow on the gel, thus reducing scar tissue formation which leads to implant related complications.” “The aim is to develop biocompatible prosthetic implants preventing complications such as capsular contracture, implant extrusion and implant rupture and will negate the requirement of regular implant exchange. We hope this will reduce patient morbidity and operation costs significantly over time. A biocompatible implant coated with cellular tissue will also result in improved cosmetic outcomes for the patient, giving the patient a better quality of life”, added Dr O’Halloran. Professor Lokesh Joshi, Vice-President for Research at NUI Galway, commented: “Allergan are supporting a truly innovative concept here, which although at early stages of development, holds out real hope for patients. The calibre of applications for this award was very high, and I congratulate Dr O’Halloran on her success.” Dr Niamh O’ Halloran graduated from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences at NUI Galway in 2014 and took up a research post with the University’s School of Medicine in 2015. She has also been awarded the Future Projects Prize at the 2017 Society of Academic and Research Surgery Annual Meeting for her work on the use of tissue engineering strategies in breast reconstruction post-mastectomy. -Ends-  

Thursday, 23 November 2017

EY announced its sponsorship of TechInnovate, an entrepreneurship development fellowship at NUI Galway. During the 10-month programme, teams of three entrepreneurs will identify real customer issues and develop innovative solutions to address these issues. As well as helping employees drive innovation and change inside established technology companies on the western seaboard, TechInnovate aims to produce more entrepreneurs who will enable innovations in local start-ups. The full-time stipend supported programme combines teams of high-calibre Fellows from either an engineering, business or design graduate background. Team members are chosen to contribute their skills, knowledge and expertise as part of a multidisciplinary Fellowship team. Dr John Breslin, Director of TechInnovate, and lecturer at NUI Galway, said: “TechInnovate’s entrepreneurship development process starts with a multidisciplinary team of professionals, the engineer, businessperson and designer, who select a market for their initial idea or innovation, and then identify customer needs through extensive market research. The value created for the customer is defined, along with customer acquisition strategies and product/company economics. This is followed by a plan for product design, development and scaling. Our Fellows will be able to apply the skills they learn over and over again.” Commenting on the sponsorship, Paraic Waters, Tax Director, EY Galway, said: “EY is delighted to sponsor TechInnovate. Having established our Galway office in June 2016, we have seen the valuable work NUI Galway is doing to promote entrepreneurship up close. There are some incredibly exciting and successful entrepreneurs operating on the western seaboard. We are very proud to have two winners in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 from Connaught with Galway’s Evelyn O’Toole, founder of CLS winning the industry category and Mayo’s Harry Hughes from Portwest winning the international category and the overall prize.” “We have seen a surge in the number of start-ups and large multinationals locating in Galway in recent years. With a strong network of third level institutions, relatively low costs and the quality of life on offer for employees, the West of Ireland is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities to attract investment arising from events such as Brexit. Programmes like TechInnovate also help to foster a friendlier ecosystem for entrepreneurs”, Mr Waters added. As part of the sponsorship of TechInnovate and EY’s ongoing commitment to developing entrepreneurship, EY will deliver a number of knowledge-sharing workshops during the programme. This will include sessions on developing entrepreneurial expertise and crucial business skills from a number of EY experts. EY staff will also be trained in the TechInnovate process and bring the skills they learn back to the business to help drive innovation. Galway has long been recognised as a hub for business and innovation, with the county ranked as one of the top incubator locations for medical devices worldwide, and the home to some of the world’s leading ICT and Life Science companies. The talent developed in programmes like TechInnovate will add to this. TechInnovate is a joint initiative from the College of Engineering and Informatics and the College of Business, Public Policy and Law at NUI Galway. The programme is supported by EY, the Galway University Foundation, NUI Galway, and the Western Development Commission. -Ends-

Monday, 4 November 2019

Irish Technology start-up, Joulica, based at NUI Galway’s Innovation Centre has today (4 November 2019) announced that it is launching its revolutionary realtime Customer Experience analytics solution at the Websummit in Lisbon from 4-7 November. The solution is pre-integrated with the Amazon Connect contact center and CRM solutions, and uniquely provides realtime customer experience analytics across a broad array of contact center technologies and enterprise data sources. Joulica’s solution allows its global customers, that include Banks, Insurance providers and Mobile operators, to understand the experience their customers have when interacting with them over the phone, web, mobile, social media and video. By utilising predictive analytics across contact center platforms and other data sources, it is able to break out insights and actions by customer segment, location and demographic, and allows their customers to deliver improvements in realtime. The launch comes after Joulica announced significant jobs growth earlier in the year, reinforcing Galway’s position as the driving force of Ireland’s Information and Communication Technology industry. The development is supported by the Government through Enterprise Ireland’s Research, Development and Innovation Fund. Founded in 2016, Joulica has grown rapidly and enjoyed strong commercial success based on its expertise in the Customer Experience domain, realtime analytics and cloud-native software development. The launch coincides with Joulica establishing a presence in the US with a new office location in New York. Speaking at today’s announcement, Tony McCormack, CEO of Joulica, said: “Joulica has deep expertise in the Contact Center industry and we have combined this with world-class data analytics and cloud-native software skills to bring this unique solution to market. We are launching first on Amazon, given the innovation Amazon Connect and the entire Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform brings to the Contact Center domain. Amazon has given excellent support to Joulica, including access to their Technology partner program and AWS Activate. “From its inception, Joulica has been fortunate to work with global customers who are at the forefront of the digital transformation revolution. This opportunity combined with a deep understanding of the requirements that Enterprise customers place on high-scale, resilient software solutions gives Joulica a unique edge when it comes to accelerating innovation in large-scale Enterprises.” Joulica was the winner of the TechExcellence and ITAG Awards in 2019 and were highlighted as the exemplar technology start-up by the Irish Government in their 2019 regional development plan. The company will be exhibiting at the Websummit in Lisbon and can be found beside the Growth Lounge in the partners’ area. For more information about Joulica, visit: -Ends-