NUI 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 NUI 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 NUI Galway.
:: Start-up ecosystem: NUI 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, NUI 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 NUI 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 NUI Galway.”
NUI 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 NUI Galway, and we look forward to building on our expertise and commitment to generating new ventures in 2022.”
Some of the successes among the NUI 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. NUI Galway and Vetex Medical were nominated for a Knowledge Transfer Ireland Impact Award.
:: Eight NUI 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, NUI 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.
:: 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.