Bravery and ambition were the overriding trait of the finalists at the 10th Irish Times Innovation Awards. Host David McWilliams was joined by serial entrepreneur Chris Horn and FoodCloud co-founder Iseult Ward in praising the incredible drive and determination of the entrepeneurs who made it to the final round of this year's innovation awards.
Marking the 10th anniversary of a process aimed to recognise and reward those who attempt to bring their bright ideas to reality, eight of the past overall winners were in attendance to see Galway-based medtech Atlantic Therapeutics pick up the overall award this year.
The company has developed a non-invasive, long-lasting solution to bladder weakness and other disorders associated with pelvic floor muscle problems.
As many as one in three women and one in 10 men suffer from urinary incontinence, primarily due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. The condition often goes untreated and unreported due to the embarrassment involved and the stigma felt by patients.
Atlantic Therapeutics’ innovative device Innovo is similar in style and feel to a pair of cycling shorts and works by strengthening and rebuilding the pelvic floor muscles.
Atlantic is a spin-out from Galway-based Bio-Medical Research Group, a company behind the well-known body toning belt product Slendertone.
Earlier this year Atlantic raised €28 million ahead of a move into the US market just months after receiving FDA approval for its flagship Innovo technology platform.
At present Innovo is a prescription-only device in the US, but according to global product manager Danny Forde, "our aim is to achieve over-the-counter status this year".
"We are also up and running in a number of European markets, including Ireland, the UK, France, Germany and Spain, while we recently finalised a distribution deal in Scandinavia."
Atlantic also won the life sciences and healthcare category in the awards.
Other category winners included PEL Waste Reduction Equipment, which is based in Balla, Co. Mayo, and picked up the Manufacturing and Design category award for 'BriteBin', its innovative solar-powered compacting litter bin which has ten times the volume of a standard street bin.
University of Limerick-based FarmHedge won the IT and Fintech category for building a technology platform that enables farmers and agri-companies to engage in fast and personalised communication across the agriculture supply chain.
Fellow Limerick-based company, Electricity Exchange, which is based in Plassey, won the Sustainability category for developing a system to maximise the revenues which can be earned by companies which are on standby to resolve frequency deviations on the national grid.
Biotech company Auranta, a spin-out from NovaUCD, won the New Frontiers category for developing a range of animal feeds which boost
During the event the winner of the readers' poll for innovation of the decade was also announced. A insightful panel discussion debated the big innovations that have taken place over the last 10 years, with Lory Kehoe of Consensys expertly explained blockchain to the uninitated, while Iseult Ward outlined the opportunities offered to start-ups like Food Cloud, which she co-founded, thanks to advances in tech and big data.
With gene editing chosen as the winning innovation of the decade, science journalist Claire O'Connell explained why she was the advocate for gene editing as the biggest innovative breakthrough of the decade, a view supported by Ciarán Seoighe, deputy director general of Science Foundation Ireland, who picked up the award on behalf of the scientific community.
This year's awards have over 100 companies enter, with the 15 finalists chosen by a n initial judging panel of Lisa Higgins from Science Foundation Ireland, Dave Flynn of Skillnet Ireland, Aideen Dowling of KPMG, Gearoid Mooney of Enterprise Ireland, and Ciaran Heavey of UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
In September, the finalists then presented to a panel of judges comprosing Patrick Gibbons of UCD Lochlan Quinn School of Business, Iseult Ward, CEO and co-founder of FoodCloud, Johne Browne, CEO and founder of Kastus, Aideen Dowling of KPMG, Declan Black of Enterprise Ireland, Fiona McElroy of Ulster University, serial entrepreneur and investor Dr Chris Horn, who chaired the judging, and Louise Grubb, CEO and co-founder of Trivium Vet.
The Irish Times Innovation Awards 2019 are supported by The Irish Times in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Skillnet Ireland, KPMG and UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.