Class Medical wins Irish Times Innovation of the Year award

Limerick-based company has designed and implemented a quality safety tool for urinary catheterisation to prevent injury

Class Medical has won the Innovation of the Year award at the annual Irish Times Innovation Awards, which were held in Dublin on Wednesday. The company, which was spun out of the University of Limerick, has designed and implemented a quality safety tool for urinary catheterisation to prevent injury.

Kevin O’Shiel, Class Medical’s chief executive officer said: “This award may help attract the interest of the top decision makers in the industry and community. It elevates things for us to a whole new level in terms of rolling the product out for the future.”

The most common catheter used has a balloon on the inner end, which is inflated by the user once it has reached the bladder. As this is a blind procedure, accidental inflation of the balloon in the urethra can cause significant acute and long-term urethral injury.

Class Medical’s “safety valve” uses a pressure relief system to indicate inflation of the catheter’s balloon in the urethra to the healthcare professional. This allows them to remove and reposition the misplaced catheter.


Class Medical employs 10 people directly in Limerick. Its device has been used on more than 7,000 patients to date and is estimated to have saved between 15 and 50 patients from severe injury in Ireland this year.

Class Medical also won the first-time founder category at the awards, which are in their 13th year. Six category winners vied for the overall title, with all the winners chosen by a panel of judges chaired by Kerry entrepreneur Ed Harty.

The life sciences award, which is sponsored by Science Foundation Ireland, was won by Teleatherapy. Founded by Clare Meskill, the company provides speech and language therapists with a web-based care management platform for Parkinson’s patients.

The company has been working in Ireland with individuals with Parkinson’s disease and with branches of the Parkinson’s Association of Ireland, which is paying for its members to use the service. It is currently working on piloting the software in the HSE beginning in late 2022 in conjunction with Health Innovation Hub Ireland.

The new frontiers category, which is sponsored by the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, was won by TradeBid, an online, end-to-end auction platform where car dealers, manufacturers and lease companies buy and sell vehicles to each other.

It provides a fully online platform and TradeBid estimates that its serviceable obtainable market is about €30 million in terms of annual recurring revenue.

The IT and fintech award, which is sponsored by law firm Mason Hayes & Curran, was won by Protex AI, which offers technology that improves safety in the workplace.

Its AI-powered technology enables businesses to gain greater visibility of unsafe behaviours in their facilities. The company has raised €18 million in seed and Series A funding and employs 20 people in Ireland.

The sustainability award, which is sponsored by Skillnet Ireland, was won by Future Planet, which offers corporate enterprises a software framework to help them become more sustainable.

Its product maps out what companies need to prioritise by informing them what their peers do, what legislation prescribes, what their customers’ needs are, and what their employees demand.

The manufacturing and design category was won by HoloToyz, which manufactures augmented reality products for children.

It creates children’s books, wall decals, temporary tattoos and stickers which, when scanned with its app, come to life in audio-supported 3D animation.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times