Five Irish companies have received funding of €8.8 million between them for projects focused on tackling the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
Overall, 36 companies from across Europe secured funding of €166 million from the European Innovation Council (EIC) through a mixture of grants or so-called "blended finance", which comprises grant and equity support.
The Irish companies to receive funding are Aquila Bioscience, Kastus Technologies, Remedy Biologics and Sirius XT. An Irish subsidiary of Cambridge-headquartered Exvastat also received funding.
The funding awards come after a call was made in mid-March through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme for applicants for EIC Accelerator funding. More than 1,400 applications for the accelerator were received, the council said.
RemedyBio was awarded €2.5 million in blended finance for a rapid Covid-19 passive therapy response platform. Based in Dublin, the start-up is a nano-scale biotechnology company pioneering ultra-high throughput therapeutic and diagnostic discovery.
Aquila received the second-highest amount of funding among Irish companies, with an award of €1.94 million in blended finance. The National University of Galway spin-out has come up with a cellulose-based material for wipes and masks that is designed to capture and trap viruses and other microbes in the material, thereby reducing their transmission.
Former Irish Times Innovation award winner Kastus received a €1.6 million grant for its antimicrobial coating that can be applied to glass and ceramic surfaces. The coating was recently confirmed to be effective against coronavirus.
UCD spin-out Sirius XT, which is led by former Farran Technology managing director Tony McEnroe, was awarded €1.5 million. The company has developed and built a benchtop soft X-ray microscope, the SXT100, that is capable of generating high-resolution 3D images of the internal structure of whole biological cells.
Exvastat was awarded a €1.26 million grant. The company is developing a treatment for acute respiratory distress to lower mortality and improve the quality of life of patients.
Three other Irish companies – Kite Medical, Provizo and OneProjects – also received funding under the European Union’s €148 million recovery plan for Europe.
Another Irish company, HiberGene Diagnostics, which secured €930,000 funding from the EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020 under an earlier special Covid call launched in January, has since gone on to secure European approval for its highly accurate, low-cost test for coronavirus, which promises results within 30 minutes.