This year’s Big Ideas included an injectable gel treatment for knee osteoarthritis, an AI-powered video synopsis, a medical device to treat dry eyes and a tool to cut carbon emissions.
NanobOx has won this year’s Big Ideas competition for tech start-ups, run by Enterprise Ireland. It was one of 12 investor-ready start-ups that presented their business models at the pitch event today (November 24).
Nanobox was developed by Dr. Introduced to John Favier, a serial entrepreneur who runs the start-up as CEO. Favier founded NanobOx together with Dr. Mohammad Ghaani at Trinity College Dublin.
The duo have developed highly energy-efficient technology to oxygenate water using nanobubbles. In many commercial bioprocesses, the oxygen content in the process water must be kept constant. This can mean significant operational costs for a process that can be critical to productivity.
For example, in aquaculture or fish stock rearing, the energy cost of oxygenation can be the second highest expense after feeding. It can account for 60 to 70 percent of operating costs in biological wastewater treatment.
The production of nanobubbles is particularly energy-intensive, but with a new, patented technology, NanobOx has succeeded in reducing the energy required for this. Its nanobubble generators can be solar or battery powered and are easy to clean and maintain with no moving parts. The company claims its technology is highly scalable and capable of oxygenating water at high flow rates.
Fada Medical wins Viewer’s Choice
In its 14th year, Big Ideas hosted its 2022 pitch event to a live audience at Croke Park, as well as to a virtual audience online.
Big Ideas showcases deep tech start-up innovations emerging from higher education institutions. It offers founders direct access to investors and the opportunity to present their business ideas.
Big Ideas pitch teams competed for the One to Watch Award, which was judged by a panel of judges. Live and online audiences also voted for the winner of the Viewers’ Choice Award.
This year, that award went to Fada Medical, which aims to improve insulin delivery for people with type 1 diabetes. To this end, Fada Medical has developed a novel diffusion technology that can extend the wearing time of infusion set cannulas and support consistent long-term use of insulin pumps.
Deep tech support
All 12 start-ups attending the event were given three minutes to present their innovations and business propositions to the invited onsite and online audience composed of Ireland’s research and investment communities and the broader start-up ecosystem.
Dara Calleary, TD, Secretary of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Business Regulation at the Department for Business Trade and Employment, said Ireland has one of the “most vibrant and collaborative commercialization ecosystems in the world”.
He also stressed the importance of state support for innovative companies. “As these founders face a tougher start-up funding environment, it is important to sustain and support their growth, and tools like the Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund play a critical role in bridging potential funding gaps for deep tech start-ups. whoops.”
Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy echoed Calleary’s comments on funding support. “With the severe global headwinds facing Irish businesses, it has never been more important to champion the courage and ambition of Irish founders, as their spirit and drive are the cornerstones of our local and national economy.
“Enterprise Ireland is committed to further accelerating entrepreneurship in Ireland and today’s event is a prime example of that, as interaction between investors, academic institutions and our own support teams offers these 12 ambitious founders the opportunity to grow their businesses to to lead the next one.”
Read on to learn about the other 10 startups pitching their big ideas.
Darwin & Goliath
This Trinity College Dublin spin-off from the Adapt Research Center provides carbon calculators that categorize transaction data to identify carbon hotspots and provide recommendations to reduce carbon emissions. The technology enables companies to calculate and ultimately reduce emissions in procurement by comparing providers and showing emissions information to end customers.
Giyst, an emerging University College Dublin (UCD) start-up, uses AI and machine learning to create video summaries to address the problems of information overload and shortening attention spans. It targets the business, education and other markets with this service. The goal is to reuse content to drive better engagement and discovery.
Infraprint’s technology enables 3D printing of engineering plastics more powerful than any system on the market. This enables the cost- and time-efficient production of high-strength, lightweight and customer-specific components. This technology is particularly useful for the manufacture of low volume components, for the aerospace and pharmaceutical industries and beyond.
Following needs-based research conducted during the BioInnovate fellowship program at the University of Galway and a UCD commercialization fund, Lia Therapeutics has developed Nightleaf, a drug-free wearable medical device for the treatment of dry and inflamed eyes.
dr Conor Lynch, research associate and group leader at the Nimbus Research Center at the Technical University of Münster, has developed a tool for automating energy savings. His company OPEnS has a grid-connected intelligent network system that uses tariff prediction technologies to track the energy market with the ability to optimize based on energy costs, carbon emissions, or both at the same time.
Pumpinheart, a spin-out from the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI), has developed a prototype implantable transcatheter diastolic heart pump, PReduction, for the treatment of advanced heart failure. The management team has a mix of clinical, technical and start-up expertise. Before joining RCSI, CMO Dr. Aamir Hameed a cardiothoracic surgeon. CEO Donald Hickey is a seasoned edtech and medtech entrepreneur and CTO Dr. Andrew Malone is a medical physicist.
Having previously led projects for large multinational companies such as Roche, Boston Scientific and Cook Medical, Dr. Alison Liddy, co-founder of ReleviumBio, developed an injectable gel treatment that provides excellent relief and protection from knee osteoarthritis. The company is targeting the knee as the first clinical indication and plans to expand the treatment indications to other osteoarthritis-affected joints that share the same treatment challenges.
TiLT (Transformation in Learning and Training)
TiLT has developed a training solution to make different organizations more inclusive, as one doesn’t necessarily go hand in hand with the other. To achieve this, TiLT does not focus on individual unconscious bias training, but on shifting the norms around social interaction within an organization.
UniDoodle has developed a digital tool that addresses the problem of student withdrawal in classroom-based learning. Denise O’Grady, who hosted UniDoodle at Big Ideas, is a serial edtech entrepreneur who founded Way2Pay in 2013. This start-up was recently sold to Evo Payments, a US-based payment technology provider.
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a neurodegenerative retinal disease that affects up to 10 percent of adults over the age of 65. Vzarii has developed gene therapies targeting late-stage dry AMD. These gene therapy technologies are the result of pioneering research by the Farrar team at the School of Genetics and Microbiology at Trinity College Dublin.
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Additional reporting by Elaine Burke