EpiCapture in line for €1.5m funding after it makes health innovation finals

Wild Card competition is backed by EIT Health

Irish medtech start-up EpiCapture, which has developed a test for the early detection of prostate cancer, is in line for funding of up to €1.5 million after it made the finals of the EIT Health Wild Card competition.

The UCD spin-out, which is based at NovaUCD and plans to raise seed funding this year, is the last Irish start-up in the pan-European competition. Co-founded by Dr Antoinette Perry and Edward Simons, the company’s test allows for the screening of patients through a non-invasive urine test that measures six epigenetic DNA biomarkers.

EpiCapture says it can detect 90 per cent of aggressive prostate cancers from urine samples run on PCR platforms.

“Having spent time with prostate cancer patients, it became clear that many have an aversion to biopsies which they find to be too invasive. At EpiCapture we place patient experience at the centre of our product development. Our simple urine test will enable more accurate risk-stratification of prostate cancers which will have economic benefits for healthcare systems and quality of life benefits for men with indolent disease,” said Dr Perry, chief executive at EpiCapture.

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“As we enter the final stages of EIT Health’s Wild Card competition, we see this as an opportunity to build and strengthen our business model and get to ‘investor-ready’ status. We will launch a seed funding round later this year, and Wild Card has given us invaluable access to carefully selected Europe and US-based mentors to support our preparations.”

Wild Card is an annual open innovation competition backed by Europe’s largest health innovation network EIT Health. It is designed to help develop ideas to solve pressing health challenges. This year’s focus areas were the early detection of cancer and mental health.

As part of the competition, teams receive expert mentoring, access to a European health network, and potential funding of up to €1.5 million for the winners. EpiCapture is one of four cancer detection start-ups and four mental health enterprises that have made the final list.

The last eight weeks of the competition involve in-depth mentoring for the teams, and culminates in pitching to an industry panel. The winners will be announced in November.

“This year EIT Health’s Wild Card challenge searched Europe for companies providing disruptive technologies to advance cancer diagnosis, with potential to ultimately improve cancer survival rates for EU citizens.

“Winners will be awarded a grant for options investment from EIT Health’s Invest Health arm of up to €1.5 million,” said Marc Butterly, business creation lead at EIT Health Ireland-UK.

“EpiCapture’s urine diagnostic test for the more dangerous forms of prostate cancer was identified as solving an unmet need, in being minimally invasive over the alternative, which is biopsy. Antoinette, Edward and the EpiCapture team are delivering leading edge technology from Ireland, and we at EIT Health Ireland-UK are excited they have reached the finals in the competition.”

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist