Carrick Therapeutics head Sullivan named best emerging entrepreneur

Elaine Sullivan leads cancer research firm to an EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Dr Elaine Sullivan, Carrick Therapeutics, winner of the Emerging award at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, which took place in Citywest. Photograph: Dave Meehan for the Irish Times

Dr Elaine Sullivan, Carrick Therapeutics, winner of the Emerging award at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, which took place in Citywest. Photograph: Dave Meehan for the Irish Times

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Dr Elaine Sullivan, co-founder and chief executive of early-stage life-sciences company Carrick Therapeutics, has won top prize in the emerging category at the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.

The start-up, which is focused on developing pioneering cancer treatments, attracted $95 million (€83.2 million) in an initial funding round to coincide with its launch in October 2016. Backers include Arch Venture Partners, one of the largest early-stage technology venture firms in the US, Woodford Investment Management and GV (formerly Google Ventures).

Dr Sullivan, a former vice-president for research and development at both US drugs giant Eli Lilly and British peer AstraZeneca, is seeking to build Europe’s leading oncology company by collaborating with world-class cancer researchers from Cambridge, Oxford, London and Ireland to defeat many of the most aggressive and resistant cancers.

The company is developing two clinical assets and also has a pre-clinical pipeline, which Dr Sullivan says has the potential to meet significant unmet needs for patients.

Ovarian cancer drug

Carrick has assembled a team of internationally recognised clinicians and scientists for its scientific advisory board, which is chaired by John Bell, regius professor of medicine at University of Oxford. The board includes Prof William Gallagher of University College Dublin and Prof Michael O’Dwyer of NUI Galway.

Carrick, which earlier this month obtained exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialise a new ovarian cancer drug known as CT900, also recently appointed Dr George Golumbeski as its chairman.

“The work Elaine Sullivan and her team at Carrick Therapeutics are doing has the potential to have a major impact on the lives of patients and transform how cancer is treated,” said Joe Healy, divisional manager with responsibility for high potential start-up companies at Enterprise Ireland and one of this year’s judges.

Ms Sullivan said she felt privileged to take part in the EY Awards programme and was delighted to have won an award.

“The finalists have been outstanding and extremely driven and I’ve found it incredible how helpful they have been in terms of helping our business grow,” she said.

“Already through this programme and the finalists we’ve started new collaborations and businesses, which might have happened anyhow but were accelerated because of the awards programme,” she added.

The other finalists in the emerging category this year were: Darragh McCarthy of FinTru; Paddy Finn of Electricity Exchange; Joe Wiley of Amryt Pharma; Patrick J Rigney of the Shed Distillery; David and Sandra Whelan of VR Education; Eoin Leonard of i3PT Certification; and Noel O’Hanlon of Genesis Automation.

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