Knowledge Transfer Ireland announce shortlist for 2021 Impact Awards

30th September 2021

  • Awards showcase the best in research, innovation, and collaboration in public research
  • New category, Future Forward Impact Award, celebrates commercial potential

Knowledge Transfer Ireland (KTI) has today announced the shortlist for the 2021 Impact Awards, with the winners to be announced on November 25th, 2021, at a virtual ceremony from Croke Park. The Annual Impact Awards recognise significant achievements in knowledge transfer, the commercialisation of publicly funded research nationwide and engagement with research system across the third level and other similar State research institutions. In particular, these awards pay tribute to the work of those within Ireland’s Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs) around the country who provide a vital link between industry and academic research.

Awards will be presented across three categories in the 2021 Impact Awards. The first category, the Commercialisation Impact Award, recognises successful outcomes from licensing rights to technology or intellectual property or through the creation of a spinout company. The shortlisted entries for the Commercialisation Impact Award are:

  • Vetex and NUI Galway: Spun out from NUI Galway in 2015 to develop technology to addresses the needs identified in the management of venous clots, Vetex was acquired by Surmodics in a deal worth almost €40m this year. The company reached a major milestone in December 2020, gaining FDA regulatory approval for its clot removal product ‘ReVene’.
  • Locate Bio & Royal College of Surgeons: RCSI licensed three bone and cartilage regenerative technologies to Locate Bio, an innovative orthobiologics company. The technologies have subsequently been granted FDA breakthrough device designation, a key milestone for Locate Bio as it validates the technology, and which will simplify its regulatory pathway.
  • Inflazome Ltd and Trinity College Dublin: Inflazome, was a joint spinout from Trinity College Dublin and Australia’s University of Queensland in 2016. It develops orally available treatments for a range of inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases. Inflazome was acquired by pharma giant Roche in a €380m deal in 2020, which remains one of the largest biotech deals in Australian and Irish biotech history.

The second category, the Industry Engagement Award, recognises and celebrates knowledge transfer success when publicly funded research performing organisations and companies work together through collaborative research or consultancy. The shortlisted entries for the Industry Engagement Award are:

  • Inishowen River Trust & Trinity College Dublin: Following severe flooding around Inishowen, Donegal in 2017, Trinity College Dublin provided academic expertise to the Inishowen River Trust (IRT) on flood management measures including working with IRT and the local community to determine specific measures for implementation. This led to successful EU funding for the first Natural Flood management project in Ireland.
  • Rockley Photonics and University College Cork: Rockley Photonics, a leader in silicon photonics, has collaborated with the SFI IPIC centre in the Tyndall Institute at University College Cork since 2017 and is regarded as one of UCC’s most successful collaboration partnerships. On the back of this success, Rockley established Rockley Photonics Ireland in Cork in 2020 which grew to ten employees in 2021, 55% of which are female. Rockley continues to collaborate extensively with Tyndall researchers.
  • Revlar Labs and University College Dublin: Revlar Labs, Inc., a medical diagnostics company established in 2020, is developing a new diagnostics product for COVID-19 testing based on a novel UCD biosensor platform called BioSwitch™. With the promise of delivering fast, low-cost, accurate and easy-to-use tests, the team from UCD and Revlar Labs have collaborated on further R&D with the aim of bringing these game-changing diagnostic tests to the market.

The final category for the 2021 Impact Awards, the Future Forward Award, seeks to recognise activities which have strong potential for future impact, but may still be at the early stages of development or roll out. The shortlisted entries for the Future Forward Award are:

  • Inclusio and Dublin City University: Inclusio is a new spinout founded in 2020 from Dublin City University.  A Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company, Inclusio is focused on transforming workplace culture through an AI engine which enables companies to take a data driven approach to culture and diversity.  It drives personalised, bite-sized learning and engagement, empowering employees to influence workplace culture.
  • Ocumetra and TU Dublin: Ocumetra Ltd is a spin-out company from TU Dublin established in June 2020 to commercialise world leading research on myopia control undertaken within the Centre for Eye Research Ireland (CERI) at TU Dublin. The company has raised significant levels of investment and achieved Enterprise Ireland HPSU status. Ocumetra will, as part of its business model, deliver enhanced benefits to developing countries, where blindness due to myopia limits child development, access to education, employment and other means of societal inclusion.
  • Mirai Medical and University College Cork: Founded in 2015 as a spinout from UCC, Mirai Medical is developing a breakthrough electrochemotherapy (ECT) that can treat cancers in an outpatient setting. By 2021, Mirai had raised significant levels of funding, including an award of €4.78M in 2021 under the state’s Disruptive Technology Innovation Fund, and is active in 45 hospitals around Europe and Asia.

Alison Campbell, Knowledge Transfer Ireland Director, said:

“It is hugely encouraging to see the breadth of activity on show for this year’s Impact Awards. The enduring commitment we see from industry to work with Irish researchers sends a positive message about the engagement model we have here in Ireland and the impact from spinout companies emerging from the system is really impressive. That is testament to the strength of the Irish knowledge transfer offices and the unique system of supports that we have in the country.

I’ve been particularly pleased to see equity, diversity and inclusion reflected in so many of the submissions this year and I’m optimistic that this trend will continue. I wish all our shortlisted entries the best of luck and look forward to unveiling the winners in November.”