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Emerging greentech start-up wins UCD’s 2024 VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme

Posted 18 April, 2024

Emerging greentech start-up SusBioME has been named winner of the 2024 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme. 

The company is attempting to overcome the major limits on using the anaerobic digestion process to increase renewable gas yields from biomass.

Renewable gas from anaerobic digestion is key for energy security and sustainability, and the process sees organic feedstocks, including wastes, digested and turned into biogas or biomethane, which can be used exactly like natural gas.  

A major bottleneck limiting such renewable gas production is the low digestibility of feedstock used in anaerobic digestion which leads to unrealised gas yields and low operational efficiency.

To address this problem SusBioME, a start-up emerging from the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science, is developing modular, plug-in disruptive electro-processing technologies to make feedstocks more biodigestible. 

By the direct applications of electric fields, the SusBioME technology physically disrupts feedstocks, which rapidly and very efficiently make them more biodigestible leading to gas yield improvements of up to 30%.

The winning members of the SusBioME team are Dr Ajay Menon, who completed the VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme, (opens in a new window)Professor James Lyng, Norman Maloney and Bernie Fitzpatrick.

“Everyone knows why renewable energy is important, but few know how much of it is sourced from biomass,” said Dr Ajay Menon, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science.

“Last year, 59% of the EU’s renewable energy came from biomass-based bioenergy, more than wind, solar and hydro combined.  Renewable gas, made using anaerobic digestion, is the most promising and important kind of bioenergy and is a huge and growing industry.”

He added: “Currently we are half-way through our Enterprise Ireland Commercialistion Fund project, and we already have three trial partners secured for pilot demonstrations. In 2025 we intend to spin-out of UCD, raise some €500k in pre-seed funding and commercially launch SusBioME."

Pictured at the UCD O’Brien Centre for Science are Professor James Lyng, Dr Ajay Menon and Bernie Fitzpatrick, promoters of SusBioME, a start-up emerging from the UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science Credit: Nick Bradshaw, Fotonic

Acknowledging the excellent support provided by the NovaUCD team, the VentureLaunch programme facilitators, and the other VentureLaunch participants, Dr Menon said he had received invaluable feedback and advice throughout the programme.

The annual VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme, which is run by NovaUCD, aims to support the creation and launch of sustainable and profitable new start-ups emerging from University College Dublin.

The main objective of the UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme is to equip participants with the knowledge, skills and understanding that will be required to work as part of a team leading a new commercial venture. 

On completion of the programme the expectation is that participating new ventures will have developed a commercially viable business plan.

The programme consisted of eight (8) workshops delivered over a three-month period from February to April at NovaUCD. 

"Our focus through the UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme is to support members of our research and entrepreneurial communities who want to accelerate the creation of exciting new start-ups,” said Tom Flanagan, Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, NovaUCD. 

“I wish SusBioME, and all the participants on this year's programme, every commercial success and impact, not only here in Ireland but on the global stage, in the years ahead. We look forward to continuing to working with SusBioME and all this year’s programme participants to support them to achieve their ambitions.”

In addition to the 2024 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme Award SusBioME receives a prize package worth €30,000, which includes a €10,000 cash prize sponsored by NovaUCD founding sponsors, (AIB, AMD, Arthur Cox, Deloitte, Ericsson and Goodbody), a professional service package sponsored by Bryan Maguire Financial Services and incubation space at NovaUCD.

The other participants on this year’s VentureLaunch Accelerator programme (profiled below) in addition to SusBioME were; GalMAX Biotech, Maternitec, Mirror Security, Neuropause Medical, Real World Data, and WeiSyn.  

By:David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations (with materials from Micéal Whelan, UCD Research and Innovation).

To contact the UCD News & Content Team, email: newsdesk@ucd.ie