UCD Engineers Among Winners of NovaUCD’s 2021 Innovation Awards

Dublin, Ireland, 29 March 2021, Equal1 Labs, an engineering spin-out company, and Dr Paul Cuffe, UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, are among the recipients of NovaUCD’s 2021 Innovation Awards which were announced today.

A total of 7 Awards, including the main 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Award, were revealed during a virtual event to highlight successes made in areas of knowledge transfer, consultancy, entrepreneurship and the promotion of an innovation culture, by members of the UCD research, innovation and start-up community.

Watch a short video which highlights successes and achievements of the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Awardees:

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said, “I would like to congratulate all those who have received 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Awards. These Awards were established to recognise and highlight the successes being made by members of our research and innovation community across the University. I wish them all continuing success in 2021 and the years ahead as they continue to shape the future and deliver impact for the economy and society through their commercialisation, consultancy, entrepreneurial and innovation activities.”

Equal1 Labs, a disruptive quantum computing hardware start-up, which is developing a new type of quantum computer based on the latest advances in semiconductor CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology, was awarded the 2021 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award.

The company, founded by Dr Dirk Leipold, Professor R. Bogdan Staszewski and Mike Asker, is a spin-out from the UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Professor R. Bogdan Staszewski said, “I am extremely delighted and honoured to receive the 2021 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award on behalf of the Equal1 team who are tirelessly working to realize our lofty goal of building the world's first practical quantum computer.”

He added, “Dirk Leipold, my colleague from our days working together at Texas Instruments many years ago, and who is now the CEO of Equal1, was so captivated with quantum dots and quantum bits that he got me so enthusiastic about the possibilities for quantum computing. I still cannot believe that now we are so close to finally being able to reach our goal."

Quantum computing is a potential industry game-changer as the field promises an exponential increase in computing power enabling the development of breakthrough applications in areas such as; drug and vaccine discovery, climate modelling, protein folding modelling, financial services and artificial intelligence.

Unlike current quantum computers which are extremely large form-factor and extremely expensive for developers to get access to, the Equal1 Quantum Processing Unit (QPU) can operate at higher temperatures which significantly reduces its size and cost by orders of magnitude.

During the last year the company, an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up, secured additional seed funding from current investor Atlantic Bridge, as well as from a new investor, 808 Ventures, a US and Australian VC, and achieved major advances in chip performance and optimisation of cooling systems to enable the minituraisation of the system hardware.

In addition the company grew to a team 14 full time employees, split between NovaUCD and offices in Silicon Valley, California.

Dr Paul Cuffe, UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, was awarded the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Champion of the Year Award for his dedication to working with UCD engineering programme students, to unlock the commercial trajectory of their final year dissertation projects.

In 2020 he supervised Philip Snell’s, ME Electronic and Computer Engineering thesis project to prototype a new MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controller.

The result of this project is the Joyst JV-1 MIDI controller which provides an array of gamer-style thumb joysticks to give more expressive possibilities for electronic musicians. In 2020 Philip Snell, with fellow ME engineering graduates, William Langrell and Edward Byrne and Dr Cuffe, established a UCD spin-out company, Joyst Instruments, to commercialise the JV-1 MIDI controller.

Dr Paul Cuffe said, “This is an absolute honour to receive the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Champion of the Year Award. There is a tremendous wellspring of talent amongst the engineering students of UCD and it is my absolute privilege to work with them on different inventive projects.”

He added, “In the last year with Joyst Instruments Ltd we've completed three accelerator programmes at NovaUCD, we've successfully run a Kickstarter campaign, and we recently shipped out our electronic musical instrument to our backers.”

He concluded, “It's been quite a journey so far and this Award is simply an amazing honour and motivates me to press on with other student and graduate led commercialisation activities that I have in the pipeline.”

During 2020 Joyst completed the NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition, the NovaUCD Customer Discovery Programme and the UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme. Joyst also launched a Kickstarter campaign with a target of €12,500 to help the company bring the Joyst JV-1 to market. The company exceeded this target within 40 hours and a raised a total of just under €23,000 from 107 backers.

To date, Dr Cuffe has filed eight invention disclosures with NovaUCD on ideas stemming from project work with students.