Mayo firm scoops top innovation award

North’s Minister for Enterprise welcomes winners to Belfast at awards ceremony

A cost-saving innovation for the construction industry, developed by a west of Ireland engineering firm, has won the overall prize at this year's Irish Times InterTradeIreland Innovation awards.

PanelDuct represents an advance over traditional . It eliminates two of the three stages involved in the installation of these systems in builds that range from small-scale commercial premises through to international multistorey skyscrapers. PanelDuct also won the manufacturing category.

Speaking at last night's awards ceremony, held in Belfast City Hall, the North's Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment Arlene Foster highlighted the innovative history of Belfast, from the textile and shipbuilding heritage through to its recent fame as a home to major TV production. She welcomed the winners to the city, which is investing heavily in innovation infrastructure and support services for start-ups.

Music platform

Other winners include WholeWorldBand in the Creative Industry category. Conceived by 10CC legend


Kevin Godley

and backed by former U2 manager Paul McGuinness, it is an innovative music platform app which has created a global recording studio in the cloud. Fans can collaborate online with their heroes and potentially earn money as a result.

In the Bioscience category, Embo Medical won for a new medical device which makes embolisation procedures faster and less expensive while also offering more certainty in terms of success. Ocean Harvest won in the Agrifoods category after creating a range of patented seaweed-based formulas centred on the bioactive ingredients present in different seaweeds

Newry-based company Nautilus NI took the IT & Telecoms category for its novel and low-cost solution to the challenge of the increasing vulnerability to counterfeiting of holographic security features. In the Energy & The Environment category the winner was REDT, which has developed a new electricity storage technology offering a solution to the problems associated with intermittent renewable energy sources.

The award for North/South collaboration went to BFree Foods for its development of an allergen-free fajita kit, manufactured in conjunction with Evron Foods based in Co Armagh.

First round

During the first-round of judging 18 innovators from over 100 entries were shortlisted to go forward to the final of the prestigious competition. This year’s first-round judges were Dr Bernadette McGahon of InterTradeIreland;

Tim Brundle

of the University of Ulster;

Marion Boland

of Science Foundation Ireland;

Niall Campbell




Pat Daly

of Teagasc; and Prof

Frank Roche

of the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. This reporter was also one of the first-round judges.

In February the shortlisted firms presented to a final judging panel chaired by renowned tech entrepreneur and Irish Times columnist Chris Horn. He was joined by former overall award winner David Woolfson of Gabriel Scientific, and Aidan Gough, strategy and policy director at InterTradeIreland, Norman Crowley, serial entrepreneur and founder of Crowley Carbon, Mark Nodder, chairman of Wright Group, Helen Kirkpatrick, director of UTV Media, Kingspan and Dale Farm Ltd, and Kevin Neary, co-founder of GameStop and a mentor and investor in several promising Irish start-ups.

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer

Michael McAleer is Motoring Editor, Innovation Editor and an Assistant Business Editor at The Irish Times