Winners of NovaUCD’s 2021 Innovation Awards Revealed
- Crop scientist Professor Fiona Doohan receives the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Award
Equal1 Labs, a disruptive quantum computing hardware spin-out from University College Dublin (UCD), and Charlie Gleeson, the founder of Zipp Mobility, the micromobility start-up, 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.
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.”
Watch a short video which highlights successes and achievements of the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Awardees
The 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Award, which recognises excellence in innovation or of successes achieved in the commercialisation of UCD research or other intellectual activity over a number of years, was awarded to Professor Fiona Doohan, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science.
As a crop scientist Professor Doohan’s research is focused on improving the sustainability of crop production systems in Ireland and globally, and enhancing the diversification, safety and transparency of Irish food systems and she has secured over €30 million in research funding to date.
Professor Fiona Doohan
She has filed a total of 14 invention disclosures with NovaUCD in areas such as novel endophytes and their use in improving yield and suppressing diseases in crops; genes conferring resistance to fungal diseases that attack cereals; a novel enzyme used to break down lignocellulose to produce bioethanol along with a method of transforming cells to improve crop traits.
A number of these inventions have been co-developed with collaborators in Teagasc and Trinity College Dublin. Seven of these inventions have been patented and three licence agreements have been signed with industry.
Professor Fiona Doohan is also a co-founder of e-Seed Crop Technology Solutions, a joint UCD-TCD spin-out company, which is focused on developing novel endophytes that can increase crop yields.
Professor Fiona Doohan said, “I am honoured to receive the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Award. The enhanced global consumption of crop-based foods and the move within the EU and globally towards more sustainable agricultural practices mean that now, more than ever, we need innovation in crop science to ensure that the Irish agri-food sector continues to lead in the development of sustainable, traceable, quality foodstuffs."
Professor Doohan is also a Principal Investigator on several major national and international research initiatives, including CONSUS, Food Shield and Healthy Oats and the EU project INNOVAR.
The recipients of the 2021 NovaUCD Invention of the Year Award are; Professor Patricia Maguire, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, Professor Fionnuala Ní Aínle, UCD School of Medicine and Dr Paulina Szklanna, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, for their discovery of biomarkers which can be used to diagnose preeclampsia risk.
Professor Fionnuala Ní Aínle, Professor Patricia Maguire and Dr Paulina Szklanna
Preeclampsia, a dangerous pregnancy complication, is difficult to diagnose and kills 50,000 mothers and 500,000 babies each year worldwide.
Based on their discovery the UCD team is now developing a new diagnostic test called AI_PREMie, an AI-powered risk stratification platform, to identify women with preeclampsia and predict preeclampsia severity thus helping to save the lives of mothers and babies. (See further information below).
The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award is Equal1 Labs which is developing a new type of quantum computer based on the latest advances in semiconductor CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology. 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
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. (See further information below).
The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Consultancy of the Year Award is Professor Michael Wallace, UCD School Agriculture and Food Science, for a consultancy study entitled 'Economic Impact Assessment of the Tillage Sector in Ireland' commissioned by Tillage Industry Ireland through ConsultUCD.
Professor Michael Wallace
This study, which revealed that the Irish tillage sector generates economic outputs of €1.3 billion per annum and supports 11,000 jobs, provides an evidence base to support future development planning for the Irish tillage sector, identifying the sector's integral economic contribution to the agri-food industry specifically and the national economy more generally. (See further information below).
The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Founder of the Year Award is Charlie Gleeson, founder and CEO of Zipp Mobility, the micromobility start-up. During 2020 Zipp Mobility secured over €1.1 million in seed funding, including €250,000 from Enterprise Ireland and launched e-scooter operations in multiple UK locations. (See further information below).
On receiving the 2021 NovaUCD Founder of the Year Award, Charlie Gleeson, said, “It has been a great year for the Zipp team scaling across the UK. However, it was very much a team effort. I’m extremely proud of the team we’ve built and what we’ve achieved in 2020. And of course, we couldn’t have done it without the support of NovaUCD.”
The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Champion of the Year Award is Dr Paul Cuffe, UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, 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.
Dr Paul Cuffe
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. (See further information below).
The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Licence of the Year Award is Dr Donal MacKernan, UCD School of Physics, who has developed a disruptive molecular switch platform technology. During 2020 this technology was licensed by NovaUCD to a US-based company Fionnachtain Inc with an initial application as a point-of-care medical diagnostic for COVID-19 and influenza. (See further information below).
Dr Donal MacKernan
29 March 2021
For more information contact Micéal Whelan, Communications and Media Relations Manager, UCD Research and Innovation, t: + 353 1 716 3712 or e: email@example.com.
Additional Information About Award Winners
2021 NovaUCD Invention of the Year Award, Professor Patricia Maguire, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, UCD Conway SPHERE and UCD Institute for Discovery, Professor Fionnuala Ní Aínle, UCD School of Medicine, UCD Conway SPHERE, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and Dr Paulina Szklanna, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, UCD Conway SPHERE. Using a novel non-invasive blood-based diagnostics platform (PALADIN), developed by Professor Maguire, she and her co-inventors discovered biomarkers which can be used to diagnose preeclampsia risk. A patent has been filed in the European Patent Office for this invention and the technology will be the basis of a planned new UCD spin-out company.
2021 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award, Equal1 Labs. 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.
Through ConsultUCD Professor Michael Wallace, UCD School Agriculture and Food Science, the recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Consultancy of the Year Award was commissioned by Tillage Industry Ireland to carry out a consultancy study entitled 'Economic Impact Assessment of the Tillage Sector in Ireland'. The study revealed that tillage farms have the second highest family farm income (€34,000 average) behind dairy and twice the income of cattle and sheep farms. It quantified that tillage activities have the highest carbon efficiency of all the main agricultural enterprises and emit substantially less CO2e per hectare than either beef or dairying and showed how Ireland's usage of cereals has outpaced domestic production, with net imports increasing at a rate of 64,000 tonnes per annum over the period 2000-2018.
2021 NovaUCD Founder of the Year Award, Charlie Gleeson, founder, Zipp Mobility. In 2020 following a pivot to the UK market due to COVID-19 Zipp Mobility launched e-scooter operations in three UK locations (Aylesbury and High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, and Taunton in Somerset), grew the team from 1 to 20 people across Ireland and the UK. Since the end of last October Zipp customers have completed over 40,000 journeys and travelled over 125,000 km, using the company’s e-scooters (equivalent to replacing approximately 12,000 car journeys and removing around 7 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere).
2021 NovaUCD Innovation Champion of the Year Award, Dr Paul Cuffe, UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering and co-founder, Joyst Instruments. 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.
2021 NovaUCD Licence of the Year Award, Dr Donal MacKernan, UCD School of Physics. The molecular switch platform is a specialised hinge protein with sensor and function domains and can be manufactured using standard recombinant protein technology. The flexibility of the design allows a wide variety of applications including medical diagnostics, food and environmental testing, and therapeutics.
For further information about NovaUCD visit www.novaucd.ie