Continued Impact through Innovation and Start-ups for NUI Galway in 2019

Among the many highlights of the year was success in the Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) Impact Awards. Pictured l-r at the ceremony were Dr Alison Campbell of KTI, award-winner Fiona Neary, Innovation Operations Manager, NUI Galway and David Murphy, Director of NUI Galway’s Innovation Office.
Dec 20 2019 Posted: 09:10 GMT
  • 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


Marketing and Communications Office