Irish biotechnology start-up Nuritas has won a major award sponsored by Forbes and the Silicon Valley-based venture-capital firm SVG Partners.
The Dublin-based company was awarded the 2015 SVG Thrive Accelerator Award at the ‘Forbes Reinventing America Ag Tech’ summit in Salinas, California on Thursday.
It was selected as one of the top 10 finalists out of 100 entries submitted for the competition, which focuses on precision agriculture and food solutions. The award is intended to help find solutions to solve food and wellness challenges.
The invitation-only event brings together several hundred of the smartest minds in Silicon Valley and global agriculture in a bid to tackle some of the world’s most critical challenges.
Established by bioinformatics specialist Dr Nora Khaldi in 2013, Nuritas has developed a proprietary technology using big data techniques, which sieves through large amounts of data to discover molecules from food and food by-products for use life science industries in products such as supplements and pharmaceuticals.
The company says it can find the molecules - known as peptides - 10 times faster than conventional research means and with 380 times more predictability of discovery and for one thousandth of the cost.
In just 12 months, Nuritas has discovered 20 novel peptides. Two of these peptides, which regulate blood glucose levels, have been developed and patented with plans to use them to target the prevention and onset of diabetes.
There are estimated to be less than three dozen health-benefiting peptides commercially available globally, a figure which includes those uncovered by Nuritas.
Dr Khaldi, a mathematician with a PhD in molecular evolution and bioinformatics from Trinity College Dublin, said the company was honoured to receive the award.
“I passionately believe in the potential of food to offer solutions to health and wellness challenges but, until now, this potential was out of reach. Now, Nuritas is able to unlock nature’s hidden, health-benefiting ingredients that can work with the body to enhance well-being. As a company, we are extremely proud of the global importance of our work and this award is a very welcome endorsement of our values and mission,” she said at the presentation of the award.