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NovaUCD: Winners revealed for 2024 Student Accelerator Programme

Posted 24 June, 2024

Two budding start-ups have been named the winners of the 2024 NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition, an intensive 4-week accelerator programme for student entrepreneurs at University College Dublin.

Following pitches to a judging panel, Clia, a medtech start-up, won the €3k Tech Sustainability Prize, sponsored by Terra Solar, and Orgo, an edtech start-up, received the €3k One to Watch Prize, sponsored by NovaUCD.

Using wearable health data, Clia is developing software-as-a-service which plugs into existing cardiac rehabilitation services to improve support and treatment for people at risk of cardiac disease.

Its founders are physiotherapists Rory Lambe and Ben O’Grady, who are currently research masters students investigating wearable technology in the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science under the supervision of (opens in a new window)Dr Cailbhe Doherty.

“We are delighted to have been named the winner of the Tech Sustainability Prize at the conclusion of the 2024 NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition, especially as the quality of the participating ventures was very high,” said Rory.

Ben added: “Wearable health data is a rapidly expanding industry. At Clia we are building a team of exercise specialists in wearable data accuracy and who have worked in the Irish healthcare and cardiac rehab systems to monitor heart health and to ultimately improve cardiac health and reduce cardiac disease inline with the UN SDG 3, Good Health and Well-Being.”

“We are passionate about health, technology and innovation, and our vision at Clia is central to this. We aim to validate and progress our concept to bring our research knowledge in wearable health to market with the goal of improving heart health and wellness.”

Founded by Zackary Musumeci, currently a Biochemistry and Molecular Biology undergraduate student in the UCD College of Science, Orgo is a mobile e-learning platform focused on Organic Chemistry that aims to help students with bite-size lessons and revision questions become comfortable with the subject.

“It is a great honour to have been named the winner of the One to Watch Prize at the end of the 2024 NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition, given the many fantastic early-stage student start-ups which took part in this year’s competition,” Zackary said. 

“A key reason for high attrition rates among students of health sciences or medicine is the difficulty of preparatory course content, particularly Organic Chemistry. This subject is fundamental to these students, but it can be unintuitive and requires extensive practice, which requires a significant time investment. 

“With Orgo studying for Organic Chemistry is easier than ever. Our solution consists of a mobile app that includes a gamified learning experience, with bite sized lectures and revision content. This allows students to get practice in at any time of the day. With long term learning, consistency is key even if students are only using the app for a few minutes a day.”  

Adding: “My future plan with Orgo is to try and build out a full prototype by the end of the summer. With consumer facing apps, especially ones that prioritise education, having the best possible user experience is a must. I am looking for talent to assist me to this end and wish to take this idea as far as I can.”

The annual NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition mentors and supports undergraduate and postgraduate students who want to work together to develop and grow start-up companies.
Thirteen early-stage student ventures and 26 participants completed this year’s programme. 

The 4-week programme, which uses the Lean Startup and Business Model Canvas approach, included a series of structured workshops and interactive workshops delivered by Raomal Perera, Caitlin Hafer and Nirisha Manandhar from Lean Disruptor. Topics such as, customer development; value proposition; working in teams; design thinking; prototyping, environment mapping; financial planning and effective fundraising and pitching, were covered.

This year two new components were introduced to the programme. The first was focused on supporting the students to think further about how they can create AI powered start-ups, and to consider what are the tools and opportunities to leverage generative AI, not only in their products or services, but also in their business operations. 

The second was to provide ‘checkpoints’ as the students refined their business ideas where they could reflect on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how best to align their emerging start-ups with these goals.

Many of the students who completed this year’s competition had also participated in Nova Vision, NovaUCD’s new entrepreneurship initiative, which took place earlier this year

The key goal of Nova Vision is to nurture sustainability and technology, in alignment with the UN’s SDGs, and to empower students to contribute to positive global change through entrepreneurial activities.

Tom Flanagan, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, said: “Congratulations to all the participants who completed this year’s student accelerator programme at NovaUCD over the last 4-weeks. It is fantastic to see so many of the emerging start-ups having a key focus on sustainability and all of them considering how best to leverage AI for their emerging business ideas.”

 “I would especially like to congratulate the Clia and Orgo teams, who have been announced as the winners of this year’s prizes. We look forward to Clia and Orgo, and the other student ventures, refining their ideas further over the coming months and to hopefully launching their start-ups on the national and even an international stage in the very near future.”

The judge panel on the 2024 NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition were; Gianni Matera founder, Growing Capital and Venture Capitalist in Residence at NovaUCD; Mia Brzakovic, Investment Analyst, Atlantic Bridge, Richard Twohig, Operations Director, Terra Solar and Tom Flanagan, Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, UCD. 

Over 80 early-stage start-ups and some 200 students have now completed the NovaUCD Student Enterprise Competition over the last 10-years. 

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