Shorla Pharma named Local Enterprise of the Year at ‘Irish Times’ awards

Clonmel-based healthcare startup raised $8.3m in June

The 2020 Irish Times Business Awards

Shorla Pharma has been named Local Enterprise of the Year at The Irish Times Business Awards at a virtual ceremony on Thursday. The award was sponsored by the national grid operator EirGrid.

The Irish healthcare start-up, founded by Sharon Cunningham and Orlaith Ryan in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, in 2018, is focused on developing oncology drugs with a focus on rare, orphan and paediatric cancers.

The founders met when they worked together at EirGen Pharma, the Waterford company founded by Patsy Carney and Tom Brennan, which was acquired by US drugs firm Opko for $135 million in 2015.

Last year, the company won the overall award at the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition and the founders were included on a list of 50 people to watch out for in 2020 by The Irish Times. The group raised $8.3 million (€7.4 million) in June.


“We are honoured to accept this prestigious award. We are very proud to be recognised among such a high calibre of nominees,” said Sharon Cunningham, the company’s co-founder.

“Thank you to EirGrid for sponsoring the award and thank you for The Irish Times for your continued support.”

“In addition, we’re greatful for the opportunity to present our innovations as an emerging pharmaceutical company and extremely proud of the milestones we’ve achieved to date which include: closing of a significant fundraise amidst a pandemic and manufacturer of our first product to treat leukemia,” added co-founder Orlaith Ryan.

Shorla is still in its prelaunch research and development phase, but its first two oncology products have been presented to the US Food and Drug Administration for approval with a third to follow shortly.

The other nominees for local enterprise of the year at the awards were virtual showroom company Skmmp and family-run retailer Nolan's of Clontarf.

Other awards include Business Person of The Year, Company of the Year, Deal of the Year and Distinguished Leader in Business for 2020.