Innovation Impacts

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Photo by Steve O'Dea on Unsplash

3 years..... 14 new spin-outs || 27 patents || 42 licensed technologies || 110 projects with industry

The creation of spin-out companies to turn research into societal impact is one of the core activities of our university. In the last three years alone, we have spun out 14 new companies. In tandem the Innovation Office team works with the research community - using their knowledge transfer expertise - to support support the technology licensing and partnership with industry and other stakeholders. In the last three years we have gained In this same period, the University has also gained 27 patents, licensed 42 technologies, and launched 110 projects with industry.

Below are some examples of some of the impacts of our innovation system here in University of Galway. Click here for a full list of spin-out companies supported through our Business Innovation Centre.

Xtremedy Medical - treating diabetic foot conditions

Galway-based spinout Xtremedy Medical is currently raising seed funding to start clinical trials for its novel medical device that aims to treat diabetic foot infections. Lyn Markey and Camille O’Malley first met at the BioInnovate Ireland fellowship programme in 2018 as part of the orthopaedics team, before going on to found the spinout in 2020. During this time, the duo witnessed traumatic experiences among patients undergoing months of ineffective therapy to control post-surgical infections.  

Finishing the programme, Markey and O’Malley funnelled these concerns and learnings into Xtremedy Medical – a MedTech spinout aimed at developing a medical device and platform technology to treat infection wounds using the pulsed field ablation (PFA) method. They key to this technology’s effectiveness is the dual ability to reduce the bacterial burden (stimulating healing) and improve antibiotic uptake. A winner of  Enterprise Ireland’s Big Ideas 2021 showcase, Xtremedy now estimates a market opportunity of up to €5bn and regulatory approval by 2028. These successes will contribute to the support of thousands of patients across the US and Europe and the prevention of avoidable post-surgical disabilities. 

Treating patients with rhinitis

Neurent Medical is developing a new-to-world, medical device led procedure to treat patients with rhinitis, the fifth most common chronic disease in the US and the most common chronic disease in children. Rhinitis is an inflammatory disease of the nose leading to congestion and severe runny nose, which effects up to 40% of the population. Treatments until now have included long-term medication or surgery.

Neurent Medical was founded by CEO Brian Shields and CTO David Townley, culminating from their work at the BioInnovate Ireland program at University of Galway. Having identified an unmet clinical need in treating rhinitis, the team developed new technology with support of the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund. This, in turn, has led to the development of a single-use device that delivers targeted energy to impact the neural function, interrupting the inflammatory cascade , with the aim of delivering long term relief to patients. The procedure will be performed with local anesthetic only, removing huge unnecessary spend for the healthcare system.

The Innovation Office at University of Galway has supported the project through from idea conception, invention disclosure, funding application, project implementation, IP management and patent protection, and through company formation and licensing the technology from the university. Neurent Medical continues to work closely with University of Galway and has funded a research programme with the CÚRAM research centre at University of Galway.

VorTech Water Solutions - Sustainable solutions for water challenges

Founded in 2019 VorTech Water Solutions Ltd. is a spin-out from the University of Galway. Their core products which focus on aeration, mixing and hydropower (designed using the principles of fluid dynamics) with focus on sustainability have garnered international interest with a number of municipal, industrial and aquaculture players.

VorTech Water Solutions address the world’s leading water and wastewater challenges by developing and delivering innovative, cost-effective solutions that make a real difference towards improving the sustainability of the industry.

VorTech Water Solutions address the world’s leading water and wastewater challenges by developing and delivering innovative, cost effective solutions that make a real difference towards improving the sustainability of the industry.

A revolutionary artificial intelligence-based digital platform

One in four women suffer from pelvic and bladder health conditions. Amara Therapeutics is a digital therapeutics company determined to change the way pelvic healthcare is delivered globally. This dynamic team is committed to empowering patients to take control of their pelvic health through a Digital Therapeutic Platform that informs patients of evidence-based medicine and behavioural interventions. 

Amara Therapeutics’ artificial intelligence-based digital platform allows for more effective use of patient data and works to connects healthcare providers, payers, patients and peers in an instant. The DTIF will elevate the spinouts to the next level, allowing them to facilitate quick, accessible and personalised therapies to a larger patient base. 

One patient, Teresa says of the app, “This app has made me feel that I am not alone with my problem. OAB is my secret – No one in my family, except my husband, knows I suffer from this. I actually feel that there is someone there who totally understands what I am going through.”

Luminate - innovative products to control and prevent side effects in cancer treatment

While most of us have heard of cancer research, there is less awareness around the management of cancer symptoms and the everyday needs of patients undergoing chemotherapy. Research shows, for example, that 68% of all chemotherapy patients develop some form of peripheral nerve damage as a result of their treatment.  

With cancer rates in the US and EU predicted to rise by 49% and 21% by 2040 respectively, the challenges of cancer treatment will become an increasingly pressing issue for the healthcare sector. Luminate are developing a range of innovative products to control and prevent side effects in cancer treatment. The spinout is currently beginning pre-clinical trials to prevent hair loss and peripheral neuropathy. Luminate’s mission, put simply, is to empower 10 million people to take control of their cancer treatment. 

More info Luminate 

Transforming Sustainable Water Management

As global pressure on water and energy increases, the demand for the next generation of sustainable solutions at the water-energy nexus has shaped research in the Microbial Ecology Laboratory (MEL) at University of Galway. The elegant technological solutions patented by MEL, and commercialised by NVP Energy, a university spinout company, has led to 15 new specialist jobs created in Ireland and enabled climate-smart, and cost-effective actions for wastewater treatment. 

NVP Energy has installed five systems including at the Heineken Brewery in Hereford, UK and at Welsh Water in Builth Wells, UK. These new digesters provide a more sustainable solution to water treatment, using less energy to operate compared to traditional systems, equating to financial savings of 65-80% per year.

Read the full case study.

Impact in a Pandemic

A project that connects patients with their loved ones, against a backdrop of COVID-19 restrictions on visits to hospitals, has seen University of 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 2020. 

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 University of Galway, who in turn reached out to industry contacts in Galway and beyond. 

University of 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.

This initiative was delivered by Irial Conroy (IBM) and Dr Aoife Murray (University of 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).

Understanding the potential of seaweed

One University of Galway spinout is harnessing the potential of one of the region’s most culturally and environmentally valuable natural phenomena: seaweed. The research-led Pristine Coasts specialises in plant and seaweed biology, genetics and ecology.  

Using next-generation sequencing (NGS), this team of dedicated scientists retrieves genetic information of various different seaweed species contained within bulks of biomass or seaweed products. This allows the spinout to provide innovative solutions for the seaweed industry – be that the producer or retailer – to ensure appropriate identification, labelling, traceability and purity of products. 

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Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

Photo by Ben Wicks on Unsplash

Collaborative research to help athletes

Orreco works with coaching, performance and medical staff to make sense of player and athlete data. Using biomarkers and data science Orreco identifies an athlete's individual thresholds and provides personalized strategies to keep athletes in their peak performance zones.

Through their University of Galway Insight partnership, Professor John Newell leads Orreco’s Data Science division who develop and apply computationally intensive statistical and machine learning methods to model injury occurrence and identify optimal training loads.

"We have a great research partnership with the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at University of is this grounding in research and best practice that drives the development of our elite athlete products and services."
Úna Newell, Managing Editor, Orreco

Solutions for high-stakes evaluation-based exams.

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 University of 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. It is an Entrustable Professional Activity (EPA) management software tool across mobile and web-based platform and was created and rolled out in the College of Anaesthetists of Ireland (CAI). An EPA is a key task of a discipline that an individual can be trusted to perform in a given health care context, once sufficient competence has been demonstrated. Until the new software tool was launched, EPAs were paper-based and inaccessible to educationalists, registrars and consultants.

The product was nominated for three national awards in 2017. The product is now being developed for international markets and the team has grown to eight. The Innovation Office at University of Galway led the licence negotiation and has been pro-active in supporting from early days of technology development through to housing the company in the university incubator facility.

Treatment for thrombosis patients

Vetex spun out from University of Galway in 2015 to develop technology to address the needs identified in the management of venous clots. In December 2020, Vetex reached a major milestone in gaining FDA regulatory approval for its clot removal product ‘ReVene’.  The company was acquired by global company Surmodics Inc in a deal worth almost €40m in 2021 that is set to expand Vetex company operations in the Galway area.

The Innovation Office at University of Galway supported the company from the outset, managing the licensing process that originally spun out the company and supporting Vetex in protecting its intellectual property to help establish a strong patent portfolio.  The team also helped the company in applying for funding and investment and has provided practical support in helping to find the appropriate lab and office space at the University of Galway Business Innovation Centre.

Feeltect - wound care using connected-health

Getting their start through the University’s esteemed BioInnovate Ireland programme, Feeltect launched in 2019. The Galway-based spinout’s mission is to disrupt the field of wound care, developing connected-health solutions towards safety, efficacy and empowerment. 

Venous leg ulcers affect 11.5 million people globally each year. Compression therapy, the golden standard treatment for these chronic wounds, faces a vast number of challenges in meeting the individual factors of each patient’s healing process. Feeltect’s vision is to see every wound care patient receiving individualised, optimized treatment, specific to their clinical and user needs. 

The spinout’s pioneering technology, ‘Tightalright’ is the first of its kind, a pressure-sensing wearable device that has the potential to maximise the rate of healing with minimal disruption to quality of life, all the while alleviating healthcare systems of the burden of wound care challenges. Additionally, a digital platform monitors technologies to capture detailed data on wound healing, informing improvements in the future.

Feeltect’s innovative technology has been noted in publications including Silicon Republic, The Irish Times and Business Post (the latter of which named them one of the 100 Hot Startups of 2021).

More here Feeltect 

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