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Posted 23 July 2009

Innovation award for life science entrepreneur

The founder and CEO of two life sciences companies, Nicola Mitchell has scooped the NovaUCD 2009 Innovation Award.

Together her companies employ over 40 people, mostly scientists. They operate from three facilities: two certified laboratories in Blackrock and NovaUCD, and an office in London. This year, their annual turnover is expected to reach €4 million, 95% from export sales. The companies have established links with key industrial players such as Amgen, Mitsui, FMC, Bayer, GSK and Pfizer.

Pictured far right: Nicola Mitchell, with her NovaUCD 2009 Innovation Award

With a business idea that integrated product development with regulatory affairs, Nicola established Life Scientific in 1995 to enable clients in the agrochemical industry get their products to market more quickly. The company has evolved to a point where end-to-end plant protection product development can be carried out from initial concept to commercialisation.

In 2006, she established her second company, BioScientific Diagnostics to provide expertise in the development, validation and utilisation of immuno and cell-based methods for investigation of biopharmaceuticals and biomarkers.

“The establishment, growth and development of companies such as Life Scientific and BioScientific Diagnostics is at the heart of the UCD/TCD Innovation Alliance’s objective of developing a world-class ecosystem for innovation that drives enterprise development and the creation of sustainable high-value jobs,” said UCD President, Dr Hugh Brady who presented Nicola Mitchell with the award.

Having evolved from contract product development, Life Scientific is now producing its own products. Following Enterprise Ireland’s investment in the company’s first in-house R&D programme, Life Scientific currently holds its own product licenses in the UK, Germany, Denmark and Ireland, and Imidasect 5GR, its niche horticultural product, is the UK market leader.

Through the re-investment of retained earnings, and with further support from Enterprise Ireland, Life Scientific is expanding its R&D activities and will have a further three own products ready for the European market by the end of 2009. Revenue from current business activities is forecast to reach €11 million by 2013 and this excludes projected revenue from Life Scientific’s own products.

“Nicola’s huge dedication and commitment to growing and developing her companies is an inspiration for others who wish to establish and grow new knowledge-intensive enterprises,” said Dr Pat Frain, Director of NovaUCD.


The NovaUCD Innovation Award was established in 2004 to highlight UCD’s commitment to innovation. It is presented annually to an individual, company or organisation in recognition of excellence in innovation or of success achieved in the commercialisation of UCD research or other intellectual activity. Previous award recipients include: Celtic Catalysts (2008), Professor Ciaran Regan (2007), Professor Conor Heneghan (2006), Professor Barry Smyth (2005) and Professor Mark Rogers (2004).

Nicola Mitchell graduated as a chemist and her background is in the pharmaceutical and plant protection product industries. During this time she developed specialist knowledge in the areas of product development and regulatory affairs.  She holds an MBA in Finance from Fordham University, New York and she recently completed the CEO Leadership for Growth Programme at Stanford University.

NovaUCD is University College Dublin’s €11 million Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre.  Twenty-five knowledge-intensive companies, including BioScientific Diagnostics, are currently located in NovaUCD. NovaUCD has been funded through a unique public-private partnership that includes AIB Bank, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Enterprise Ireland, Ericsson, Goodbody Stockbrokers, UCD and Xilinx.

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Pictured far right: Nicola Mitchell, with her NovaUCD 2009 Innovation Award