Validation key reward of awards
Now in their fourth year The Irish Times InterTradeIreland Innovation Awards are a key event on Ireland’s enterprise calendar.
Over the past three years hundreds of firms have entered with over 50 shortlisted for the finals.
Finalists have covered a variety of areas and themes, including the creation of new public amenities, identifying the “speed gene” in racehorses, equipment to improve the milk yield of cattle, tax refund systems, a new range of plants, and a system for sorting waste material.
The vast majority of winners and finalists have gone on to considerable success in their fields with many crediting the awards with giving them a boost just when it was needed.
Sigmoid Pharma was the first overall winner of the awards in 2010. It has developed an innovative treatment for ulcerative colitis which has successfully come through a number of clinical trials and is set to be approved for launch on the market in 2017.
“The studies have confirmed that the treatment does what it is supposed to do and it is safe,” says founder and CEO Ivan Coulter. “The next step is to take it to a bigger patient population. This is effectively a phase three trial and will be a very important study.”
According to Coulter recognition given by the awards was an important boost, particularly for a firm in a sector with long lead times to market. “It is easy for me to tell my team they are doing a great job and should be happy but winning an award like that was very significant both for the team internally and for our collaborators. It was a great validation for what we were doing. It encouraged us to continue on innovating. When a team realises that anything is possible then everything becomes possible. Winning awards also gives investors confidence. I didn’t have to tell people we are doing this or that; it was amazing the amount of people out there who picked up on us winning the award.
“I am now a judge for the awards and it is great to see the sheer breath of applications that come in and the number of people out there sharing a passion for innovation. When you walk out of the judging sessions you just have to say wow, there are so many people out there doing great stuff.”
Among the 2012 finalists was Embrace Design Innovations designer of a new floating internal support structure which offers support in movement for all intimate apparel including lingerie, nightwear, swimwear, shape wear, sportswear, and maternity and nursing wear.
“I have developed a concept which offers breast support and uncompromised fit in movement across all intimate apparel,” says Embrace creative director and founder Reenagh McCall. “We have been extremely busy as a result of the two awards we have won; the Ultra awards in Paris gave us credibility as designers and the innovation awards gave us credibility as inventors.
“In April we were asked to participate in the Irish Fashion Awards as one to watch. The coverage in The Irish Times was picked up around the world and we got calls from places like Russia and India as a result.