Calling all innovators: Irish Times Innovation Awards open for entries

Previous winners have secured investment funding and increased their operations

Liam Kavanagh (left), managing director of The Irish Times, presenting the overall Irish Times Innovation award to John Browne and Dr James Kennedy from Kastus at the 2017 Irish Times Innovation Awards. Photograph:  Conor McCabe Photography

Liam Kavanagh (left), managing director of The Irish Times, presenting the overall Irish Times Innovation award to John Browne and Dr James Kennedy from Kastus at the 2017 Irish Times Innovation Awards. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography

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Entries are invited for the prestigious Irish Times Innovation Awards 2018. This year’s awards will comprise five categories, covering a wide array of fields in which Irish innovation is coming to the forefront. A high-profile panel of judges will choose the winners of the awards, which are now in their ninth year.

Recent overall winners include semiconductor company Arralis, whose technology is being used in space. The 2016 winner secured €50 million in investment last year.

Most recent overall winner

The current overall award winner, Kastus, has had a remarkable year so far, closing out a €3 million venture funding round with plans to increase its headcount significantly as it scales up its sales and marketing operations.

The Kastus product is an antimicrobial spray coating which can be applied to glass and ceramics during or after manufacture or added to plastics and paint. It can be used to protect a range of high-touch everyday surfaces – including ceramic and glass tiles, smartphones, glass, door handles and metals – from harmful bacteria and micro-organisms such as MRSA and E. coli.

The coating has a proven 99.99 per cent kill rate against harmful bacteria, fungi and antibiotic-resistant superbugs, which makes it particularly useful for products such as ceramic tiles and glass that will be used in hospitals or other settings where hygiene is at a premium.

“Our whole commercial focus is international,” said chief executive John Browne, speaking recently to The Irish Times. “We are targeting the international glass and ceramics industries in the first instance, and will grow from there. Our technology adds value to their products: it gives them anti-microbial properties, makes them easier to clean, and makes them longer lasting.”

The company also recently announced a collaboration with Amber, the materials science centre at Trinity College Dublin, funded by Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), which will involve specialised research work on the further development of antimicrobial coatings. The €280,000 research programme will see two academic experts in science and engineering join Kastus from Amber under the SFI Industry Fellowship Programme.

This year’s five categories are:

Sustainability Covering innovations in economic, environmental and social sustainability IT and Fintech Covering innovations in hardware, software, security, telecommunications products and services, including the growth in technology in the financial services sector

Life sciences and healthcare Covering innovations in biology, biochemistry, microbiology, physiology, botany, zoology, and related medtech sectors.

Manufacturing and design Covering innovations in engineering, design and the production of industrial and consumer products

New frontiers Covering any innovations that do not fall into any of the above categories

Winners

Category winners will receive a €10,000 communications package with The Irish Times, while the overall winner gets a unique and high-profile communications package worth in excess of €150,000 comprising advertising promotion across The Irish Times print and digital offerings. In addition the UCD Michael Smurfit School of Business also provides a scholarship for all three of their short courses in executive development, commencing in 2019.

The Innovation partners for this year’s awards include KPMG, UCD Michael Smurfit school of business, Enterprise Ireland and Science Foundation Ireland.

The closing date for entries is June 29th. For more details go to irishtimes.com/innovation

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