Serosep’s mission to improve medical testing


In the highly competitive world of medical diagnostics, Serosep received an Agile Innovation Fund grant to help in the development of a new medical test the company believes could be game-changing.


In the medical diagnostics industry, accuracy and reliability are essential to ensure optimal and appropriate patient management and care. The technology we are developing is aimed at replacing current standards of care methods to aid in the clinical diagnosis of an illness that affects millions of people each year.  The current standard of care diagnostics lacks sensitivity and specificity and this diagnostic gap presents significant challenges for both the individual patient and the healthcare system as a whole and is a significant contributor to the overuse of antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance.


Limerick-based Serosep believes this new test may be a game changer in the market and received a grant from the Agile Innovation Fund to help drive the test’s development. The company’s new test has the potential to be faster and more accurate than what is used today.


Emma Morgan, Serosep’s Chief Financial Officer, says: “Currently, the gold standard is very old technology with inherent flaws, yet it is the best method still available today.  Due to the shortcomings of the current standard of care diagnostics, patient care and management is sub-optimal with consequential impact on the healthcare industry in terms of repeat visits, progression to more serious illness, longer-term support and over prescribing”.

Providing the indicators

Serosep is deep into the process of developing the new test and preparing to apply for a patent. The Agile Fund was essential to get the project off the ground, as there were many unknowns before the company was able to start investigating. It would have been a risk beyond prudence for Serosep to fund the investigation process completely from its own resources. The Agile Funding gave Serosep the start it needed and provided the indicators that the company was on the right track and that the idea was both feasible and realistic.


Emma explains: “It actually helped plant the seed for what we’re preparing now to patent the idea for further development. It gave us the courage to go on to look at possibility of developing a new disruptive test.”.


Having the assistance of grant aid has helped ease the financial burden as we move into the next stages with this project. Development is costly, and the Agile Innovation Fund was of great value.  It allowed us to get the answers we needed fast, in a cost efficient manner , which is very valuable in a highly competitive market.

Expanding R&D department

Serosep’s R&D department has expanded to over 25 people now, who are working on the Agile-funded project and others within the company. The project has also allowed the company to deepen its relationship the University of Limerick, and particularly with the college’s Bernal institute, says Emma: “We’ve developed a great relationship with the Bernal Institute and we used their expertise to deliver part of the project. As a result of this relationship we are doing more projects with them, we see them as a strategic partner in our innovation journey. Building key strategic relationships is an added bonus that emerged as a result of the Agile fund.”


Emma notes the ease of the application and claims process. The application process is online and it takes a few days. Within two or three days, Serosep had its application in with Enterprise Ireland.

Grant lets companies explore ideas

Emma would encourage other companies to apply to the Agile Innovation Fund: “It’s a great grant to use if you have an idea that you would like to explore further.  Under the Agile grant the intellectual property that is potentially developed remains with you and can lead a company to prepare a patent application.  This in turn has led Serosep to further collaboration opportunities, safe in the knowledge that the background IP is protected.  – The Agile fund is a really good grant , it takes the sting out of the risk for small companies.”


Serosep a laboratory diagnostics company that has been in operation for a quarter of a century. Located in Limerick, it is a family owned business, which started as a distributor. Founder and CEO, Dermot Scanlon spotted a need in the market and started to develop niche complementary products. The company has grown from there and now more than 75% of its turnover is generated from its own products, which are manufactured in Limerick. The company has been awarded Best Regional SME of the Year by the Limerick Chamber, was also awarded med-tech company of the year 2021, and recently named one of the best workplaces in the country by its own employees.



CBE delivering more frequent software updates to its growing customer base


A need to increase the frequency of software updates for its front and back-end retail solutions encouraged CBE to apply to the Agile Innovation Fund.


CBE is a growing company, and its customers have growing needs. The company is a large regional employer and its R&D innovation hub which is based in the west of Ireland develops software for the retail, convenience, hospitality and forecourt sectors.


The company was formed in 1980 and offers front-end and back-office solutions. On the front end, CBE develops software for cash points, self-checkouts, Kiosks etc., and in the back office, it provides innovative cloud-based software that manages all your setup and reporting requirements.

A growing business

The project which it received funding for was spurred by how the company’s customer base was both growing and evolving. Previously, CBE was delivering quarterly software updates to its clients. As the company base grew, CBE found itself having to deliver the software in a more efficient and scalable way.


Continuous integration and continuous deployment (CI/CD) is a method to frequently deliver the software being developed by introducing automation into all the stages of development.

TJ McHugh is CBE’s R&D Director and explains: “We needed to be able to develop and deliver the software at a faster pace to these groups so that CBE could get a more iterative approach and deliver smaller but more frequent updates, what they call the CI/CD model. That’s really what this was about – being scalable for all the large groups in increasing customer base and delivering the software at a faster pace”.


The Agile Innovation Fund has allowed CBE to continue to expand. The investment has meant the company is now developing and delivering software more frequently in a truly agile manner to meet the needs of its customer base.

Worldwide ambition

CBE operates primarily throughout Ireland and the UK but also operates in 14 other countries. TJ says the company’s strategy is to go global over the next few years and the project the Agile Innovation Fund backed was an important step in this ambition.


CBE now has a scalable solution as it moves towards its global expansion plans, explains TJ: “We already have a back office cloud solution, but the front end solution also now sits perfectly with it enabling CBE to deliver the full solution in a CI/CD model. The R&D team are all working off a fully agile model and delivering software continually”.


CBE has continued to grow throughout Ireland, and especially in the UK. The grant has allowed the sales team to deliver to more groups, which feeds into the company’s growth.


The funding helped with employment and enabled the company to start providing more frequent software updates. CBE upskilled its R&D team, and TJ explains how the team members are more efficient in every area of the software development lifecycle now. The funding had a big impact in terms of efficiency and how the process is run.

Get moving quickly on new projects

TJ says that the Agile Innovation Fund is a quick and relatively easy grant to get. CBE wanted to move quickly on this project and the quick turnaround on the grant was part of its appeal. From when the application went in, the turnaround took about a month. This set CBE up to complete this project over the course of a year.


TJ’s advice to other companies is to identify the right project. If it’s a smaller project that you want to turn around quickly, he thinks the Agile Innovation Fund is ideal, as the application process and documentation required are not onerous. Certainly, if you’re focused on a project, and need to deliver it quickly, the funding is there to help you along and do it straight away.


CBE is now looking at other projects off the back of this, explains TJ: “We would certainly be looking at other Enterprise Ireland-supported funding in terms of projects. CBE continues to grow its customer base and linked to that we continue to invest and grow our employee levels. It’s organic growth, but the funding helps to continue our innovation path. As I say, we’ve global expansion plans. CBE invests heavily in R&D and our growth is proportionate to this”. We want to constantly be at the cutting edge of innovative software. To do that, the support and funding help in terms of having additional resources that we assign to strategic projects.

Under the microscope: how Hooke Bio found success

The brilliant 17th-century scientist Robert Hooke proved an unlikely source of inspiration for an ambitious MedTech company in Shannon.

“Robert Hooke was the incredible mind behind Hooke’s Law and early microscopy advances. Despite facing many challenges in his life, he was determined and truly ground-breaking in his fields. We see some of ourselves in him,” beamed COO of Hooke Bio, Dr Finola Cliffe.

Finola has 15 years’ experience in cell culture. In 2014, she joined Hooke Bio, where she now leads a team of scientists and engineers developing technology for 3D microtissues. This technology has the potential to replace the need for animal testing and provide more accurate testing models.

“It’s fantastic being part of a small company with good intentions. But we often wonder where the next segment of funding is coming from,” Finola says.

Forging a new path

The team was initially based at the University of Limerick and it was here they received their first investment under the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund. By August 2016, this additional support allowed Finola to successfully develop a working prototype. Her team now faced a new challenge.

“It took us months to get hold of usable data. Then it dawned on me, ‘this is going somewhere but we don’t have enough runway.’” she says.

While the first fund allowed the team to build a working prototype, a second would allow them to take things further again. In 2017, the team successfully secured a second Commercialisation Fund to build a more robust prototype on a larger scale. Even with new financial support, Finola was still concerned.

“We knew technology. But we were green behind the ears in how to market a product. This was a massive challenge for us to overcome. We needed to understand how to position ourselves – the funding helped with this and was the first stepping stone.”

Leaping into the unknown

Through the Enterprise Ireland mentorship programme, Terry Sullivan, former MD of Clonmel Healthcare, was enlisted to help with the next step – selling the idea. He, along with Prof. Mark Davies, the founder of Hooke Bio, devised a plan around costs and milestones with the team.

The Transfer Technology Offices (TTO) became more involved. They’re responsible for technology transfer and aspects of research commercialisation at universities. Working closely with Enterprise Ireland, TTO contacted experts who could share further insights into larger pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, Novartis and AstraZeneca.

“It was a steep learning curve but we learned a lot during this time. We were beginning to understand how to best pitch ideas to research and development units. The Market Research Centre was like gold dust for us,” says Finola.

As part of Enterprise Ireland, the Market Research Centre offered access to free reports that would typically cost thousands of Euros. This provided important knowledge on the competition and proved crucial in seeking investment.

Reaching the masses

The team eventually finished a business plan and began networking with potential investors in Ireland. The media was one way to be heard.

“We got our name out there, did interviews with journalists and told our story. It was something new to us, but our confidence grew,” she says.

Finola noticed that investors were becoming more familiar with the company. Having won the Big Idea Showcase in 2017, even more investors came forward.

“We were getting a lot of traction and that was worth an awful lot to us. We have grown so much since the initial funding.”

Finding a new home

It wasn’t long until the team secured its initial investor funding and spun out of the University of Limerick. However, more funding would be needed to secure new premises and set up labs.

In early 2019, after the team secured disruptive technology and innovation funding, they moved to Shannon. Their new premises contain offices, engineering labs, and workshops, making it an entirely self-sufficient business.

“We don’t need to outsource anything, which is quite unusual for a company of our size,” she says. “We can make all our prototypes in-house – we can mill stainless steel, acrylic, mostly any material we want. A lot of components are needed when testing.”

Believing in yourself

Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund has opened up a world of opportunities for Finola and her team, helping them on a path to success.

The company has just completed its second round of investment and released two new patents. In Jan 2019, Hooke Bio won €1.9m in the first round of funding through the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, in collaboration with The Centre for Advanced Photonics and Process Analysis and NUI, Galway.

For anyone thinking of embarking on a new journey with Enterprise Ireland, Finola has some advice: “Communication is everything. If you’re unsure of next steps, just go for it and pick up the phone – if you don’t try, you’ll never know”.


Discover how to take your idea from lab to market with Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund.


Delmec makes data capture and sharing process more efficient

“People will have ideas, you have to give them the environment to throw them out there. The best ideas come from the people actually doing the work. The guys on the ground. Never ever squash an idea. You’ll never create a good culture doing that.”

– Damien Kelly, Head of Engineering & Innovation, Delmec.

Case Study: Delmec

Delmec, a global telecoms solutions company, headquartered in Carlow, was faced with a problem. Their engineers were recording data manually while doing survey work for tower owners and mobile network operators in Africa. It was leading to vast amounts of paperwork and it was unsustainable.

Head of Engineering and Innovation Damien Kelly explains: “It was a long drawn out process, our teams had to capture all the details on site, on paper. They’d then go back to the hotel or office, take photographs or scans of the survey and send it all to our design office, who had to try to read the information, model the tower, analyse it and write up a report.”

Handwritten data resulted in inconsistencies and the sharing of data post-survey led to delays.

Delmec had to find a way to make their data capture and sharing process more efficient. By doing so, they could speed up their operations and then scale the business. Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund was there to help.

Taking the leap

Delmec has a Telecoms Infrastructure Management system (TiMS). A cloud based assessment management system; it allows clients to monitor tower capacity, view
maintenance schedules and input trouble-tickets for thousands of telecommunications masts around the world. The company wanted to develop an app that would replace the old paper-based and manual way of working, and work in tandem with TiMS.

“The teams all had phones, we wanted to see if there was a way to automate things onsite and to capture the information digitally by tapping into the TiMS system,” Damien says. “We knew it was going to be a large undertaking. But we needed to jump on it because it was going to build the business for the next five to ten years.” he says. But there were doubts over changing familiar ways of working and the level of investment required. “We knew it was going to be a long journey and we needed buy-in from everyone to be able to do it,” Damien says.

A partner in change

After some research, Delmec signed up to a webinar to find out about Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund. The company liked what it saw and applied. The process from application to decision was quick, only taking four months to complete.

The application for the fund also helped Delmec map out the project. “Part of the application process involves scoping. By doing that, you’re then visualising what it is and you’re identifying problems,” he says.

“Enterprise Ireland holds your hand through the whole thing, there’s a lot of work but you’re not on your own,” Damien says.

Once the Agile Innovation Fund was secured, the internally-named ‘Eiffel’ project got underway. As with any app build, there were different iterations; it took eight months to complete its first stage.

A towering success

“It opened the floodgates to everything,” Damien says. Their design teams could access data in real-time and client partners were wowed by the speed of the process. The Agile Innovation Fund enabled Delmec to scale, they secured new contracts in Asia and the Middle East and they are now planning to expand to Europe.

The streamlined process means it can work with contractors in remote locations if needed. This proved to be essential when Delmec couldn’t dispatch their teams to towers due to local COVID-19 lockdowns. “If we didn’t have the app, I don’t know what position we’d be in now. We rely heavily on it,” Damien adds.

Delmec has built on the functionality of the app, moving it from a real-time data capture and sharing tool to something much more powerful. It not only drives efficiency throughout the entire business, it now drives ideas. The app tracks suggestions from team members who think something could be done better, everyone from accountants to engineers are encouraged to input.

The Eiffel project has also changed the mindset of the team. They have seen the benefits of embracing innovation and want to continue to evolve. It has given the business an edge over risk-averse competitors who are slow to embrace change.

How can other businesses nurture an innovative mindset? “People will have ideas, you have to give them the environment to throw them out there,” Damien says. “The best ideas come from the people actually doing the work. The guys on the ground. Never ever squash an idea. You’ll never create a good culture doing that.”

To find out more about Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund, contact your Development Advisor or call our R&D unit on 01 727 2120.


Forming unbreakable bonds: how Plasmabound found success

“This goes against science,” marvelled Nick Barry, a tech inventor and founder of PlasmaBound.

It was 2013, and Nick was working for the UCD-based Irish Centre for Composite Research (IComp).

Excitedly, Nick asked his professor, Denis Dowling, to look at the testing sample.

“Okay, I think we have something”, confirmed Prof. Dowling.

Nick had discovered a new process for bonding composite materials like carbon fibre. A solution that could help automotive, aerospace, marine, and electronics manufacturers build even stronger, lighter products.

Finding a solution

Nick quickly realised the significance of his findings and was determined to develop a product for the market.

New design opportunities beckoned. Companies could potentially build significantly cheaper solutions without metal fixings and, importantly, reduce their CO2 footprint globally.

“When I developed the solution, I immediately thought ‘product’. Fortunately, I’d been aware of the Commercialisation Fund since my PhD days, so it was always in the back of my mind,” says Nick.

“I saw a benefit to the human race. So, I went home to my partner (and now wife) and told her repeatedly how exciting it was!” he laughed.

Forging a new path

Hugh Hayden, UCD Case Manager of the Technology Transfer Office (TTO), was on hand to provide support. After viewing the solution and reviewing UCD’s internal Invention Disclosure Forms, he agreed that this would be a perfect project for Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund.

Things moved quickly from there. The TTO reached out to David Flood, Commercialisation Specialist at Enterprise Ireland.

Over a cup of coffee, David listened closely to Nick’s story and was blown away by the project’s potential. David then dug deeper into Nick’s solution, working out what would be needed to commercialise a minimum viable product (MVP).

“David was fantastic in reflecting the fund’s requirements. You might say, he gave me the sandbox in which to build my castle,” says Nick.

Removing barriers

With funding secured, Nick began developing an MVP. He went about ensuring the technology could treat a number of complex composite materials at scale.

Barriers to the market had to be removed. Nick and his team contacted industry leaders to communicate the idea. The MVP was a game-changer – Nick needed to show companies how it could reduce the weight of their products and their carbon gains.

Searching for answers

The MVP was demonstrated at three different sites. With potential customers in attendance, demonstrations took place at FiftyOne Bikes in Dublin, Custom Composites in Meath, and ÉireComposites in Galway.

“We needed to show that we could meet required specifications with certain materials. So, that’s exactly what we did,” says Nick.

In the first 12 months, Nick had 11 letters of interest from firms. To drive the project forward, Nick took it upon himself to gather feedback and learn what was needed in the short and long term.

“After a couple of rounds of feedback, we were successful in gaining support. But it was only once we had secured the Commercialisation Fund

Thinking bigger

In 2017, Nick was ready to take the next step by forming a spin-out company.

“It was the logical next step. But I had no idea what it would take to grow a company. Enterprise Ireland helped us understand each step and what was required,” says Nick.

His brother Alan Barry came on board as CEO, a serial entrepreneur, who had followed the project closely from a very early stage. Xavier Montibert joined as Commercial Director in 2018, bringing connections with industry leaders and a proven track record of delivering innovation.

PlasmaBound continued to grow and recognition quickly followed. In 2018, the company reached the final of Enterprise Ireland’s Big Ideas and featured in The Ones to Watch and SBP’s 100 Hot Start-Ups. Nick and his team aren’t stopping there.

“The start-up journey is going extraordinarily well,” beams Nick. “The team is motivated and everyone’s excited about what the future holds.”

Believing in yourself

Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund helped Nick on his path to success. Subsequently, his confidence grew.

“The project gave me faith that I could actually do this. Having an organisation like Enterprise Ireland demonstrate trust in your idea makes you feel good about yourself. Sometimes science is all about confidence.”

For anyone embarking on their own project, Nick has some advice: “Remember, be positive. Always communicate with those close to you and enjoy the journey.”


Discover how to take your idea from lab to market with Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund.

Lidan Designs – Innovating for Sustainability

“Lidan was started to create sustainable skilled jobs in the West of Ireland through the design and manufacture of sustainable buildings in an innovative way” – Dan O’Brien, Director, Lidan Designs.

The interest in contemporary wooden buildings is soaring worldwide and Lidan Designs is leading the charge in creating innovative, energy-efficient modern structures in a move towards a more sustainable society.

Winners of the ‘Future Focus’ award at this year’s National Enterprise Awards, the Roscommon-based company has a clear vision having recognised the potential of wood as the ideal construction material for the future and specialises in the design, manufacture and installation of premium wood products and structures. Maximising the use of this sustainable and natural material, Lidan is leveraging cutting-edge design to create these structures with craftsmanship at the core and each of their products is handcrafted individually by a team of experienced carpenters and joiners. They are currently in the process of building a bespoke factory to meet the increased demand for their product.

Former Accenture Corporate Strategy Consultant Dan O’Brien co-founded the company with Liam Casey to offer timber home offices with NZEB standards, a BER A-rating and that can deliver passive house levels of airtightness. The company has availed of the Innovation voucher scheme from Enterprise Ireland to further innovate and grow.

In demand for more and more projects in the public sector, their clients now include the OPW, Department of Education and many others. One of their showcase achievements is a highly-sustainable ecological Nearly Zero Energy rapid build dwelling for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, which apart from being one of the first dwellings fully finished off-site in Ireland, it is also possibly the lowest embodied carbon dwelling in Ireland. The two bedroomed house at Fernhill near Stepaside, Dublin was fully designed, built and finished by Lidan off-site and took just a few weeks to complete from design to handover. A fully fitted kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, plumbing, electrics and energy systems were all done off-site. This work allowed the company to showcase the potential of sustainable house building in Ireland.

As lifestyles and global work patterns have changed, there has been a huge demand from private sector clients for additional space whether it’s for home offices, gyms or studios. The buildings created by Lidan have been growing in both size and complexity and public sector clients are also now recognising the potential of the use of wood from a design, efficiency and construction point of view – from larger offices to schools and community centres. The affordable and social housing crisis has also spurred on the need for well-regulated rapid build and modular housing systems.

“There is a huge demand now from housing to schools to bigger public amenity buildings. We aim for growth but sustainable growth at a sustainable pace in expanding, hiring people and increasing our product set”, explains Dan O’Brien.

The Innovation voucher scheme from Enterprise Ireland allowed the company to become agile. They partnered with Sligo Institute of Technology to use the scheme to examine the energy profile for their current range of modular buildings, assessed renewable energy and water and waste sustainability options. The voucher also helped them to increase their 3D modelling capabilities – enabling them to create renders of finished products for clients.

“I’d strongly recommend that companies look at the Enterprise Ireland Innovation voucher scheme for their innovation projects. We’re now looking at further expansion and examining the export market. It has been very helpful to us in terms of solving problems and allowed us to bring in outsourced expertise as needed and it was a great way of starting connections with the talent available at third level.” says Dan O’Brien.

To take your next step towards Innovation visit Innovation Vouchers.


Hardwired for success: how Biologit is improving clinical safety

Cars beep and lorries rumble past on the busy streets of São Paulo. Nicole Baker, PhD, CEO and co-founder at biologit, is in Brazil on business as she reflects on a familiar problem. “There’s so much medical literature out there. The volume is so high it can be difficult to follow it all,” she says.

This issue would inspire Nicole to create her own start-up company, with the support of Enterprise Ireland. Before spinning out, the core technology would be developed at Trinity College.

With over 20 years of experience as an immunologist and pharmacovigilance professional, Nicole understood that searching for the latest information on drugs or side effects can pose a real challenge for pharma companies and researchers. Screening can be laborious and impact patients’ safety.

“I kept thinking ‘how can we do this better at a much bigger level?’” says Nicole.

Seeking out opportunity

With that question in mind, she approached Bruno Ohana, PhD, and now CTO and co-founder at biologit. The pair had known each other for years through different projects.

After some discussion, they concluded that AI could filter out redundant information and provide relevant research in an easily accessible form. They created working models to put their theory into practice and were pleased by the results. Nicole recognised that additional expertise and skills would be needed to develop the technology further – she reached out to Enterprise Ireland.

“We wanted to dedicate ourselves full-time, so funding and support would be critical to creating the product,” she says.

Enterprise Ireland confirmed there was potential in the project. They talked through commercialisation avenues and collaboration possibilities to take the idea forward.

The next step was introducing Nicole and Bruno to Professor Lucy Hederman, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, at Trinity College. While Nicole and Bruno had extensive market intel and knowledge of technical strategy, Lucy had the means to build the technology solution.

Having reviewed the working models and accompanying results, Lucy came on board as scientific lead. Trinity’s lab facilities and Lucy’s work would prove to be the backbone of the project. Now the team had invaluable access to a greater level of information around health informatics and AI.

With this collaboration in place, Nicole successfully applied for Commercialisation Funding in 2020. The team could now begin creating a minimum viable product (MVP). The project was gathering real momentum.

Building something special

A team was assembled at Trinity College, with Lucy and Bruno now working in conjunction with the UCD Adapt Centre. With the world in the grips of a pandemic, meeting people in person proved difficult.

“Unfortunately, this hampered things, everything was virtual. We missed interacting with other researchers over coffee, which is easier for making connections,” says Nicole.

Two engineers were hired, along with a group of pharmacovigilance professionals to share their expert knowledge. With everyone on board, the team got to work.

“Our solution needed to de-duplicate and tag every incoming article with predictions based on AI models in collaboration with subject matter experts. This wasn’t going to be built in a week,” she says.

The team created a more accessible workflow by building a front-end for the MVP to speed things up.

After many hard hours and months, the MVP was taking shape.

Thinking bigger

With Enterprise Ireland’s support, Nicole drew on her vast industry experience to gauge reaction to the product. The team gathered feedback through interviews and testing sessions.

Sandboxing was also key to providing further validation, allowing the team to test the MVP in a safe, isolated environment that mimicked the experiences of end-users.

The results exceeded the team’s expectations. They had already submitted a patent and secured disclosure on the technology in conjunction with the Technology Transfer Office at Trinity College, which owns the intellectual property.

They had successfully created a product that could collect information and data about problems in medications. A database of scientific research that was far easier for users to view.

Nicole and the team began receiving industry recognition. She was a finalist in Enterprise Ireland’s Big Ideas 2020. Along with the Dublin Business Innovation Centre, the event allowed Nicole to network with industry leaders and establish important contacts. “Those events were invaluable, allowing us to meet investors and decide where we wanted to go next,” says Nicole.

With the help of Neil Gordon, Start-up Development Manager at Trinity College, Nicole opened dialogue with investors and presented the product. After several discussions, Nicole and Bruno secured private funding. This would be the platform to found Biologit in 2021.

Looking ahead

The future looks bright for Nicole and her team. Biologit now works alongside 20 pilot partners in the pharma industry, rigorously testing its AI models across many cases. “This was something we really worked for – it wasn’t just handed to us. Knowing Enterprise Ireland was behind us filled us with great confidence. They have been great partners and we’re still connected with them today,” says Nicole.

For those embarking on their own commercialisation project, Nicole has some advice: “Focus on your product. It’s a lot of hard work, but with a certain belief, you can accomplish what you set out to achieve.”


Discover how to take your idea from lab to market with Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund.

Tech with heart: how CroíValve made a difference to patient safety

A trip to Paris was the catalyst for Dr. Martin Quinn, CMO and co-founder at CroíValve. “I was always interested in new treatments and one dawned on me in France,” he says.

During an interventional cardiology conference, Martin and the other attendees were going over treatments for tricuspid valve regurgitation (TR). A common heart disease that affects over half a million people every year in the US and EU alone. “I thought, ‘there’s a better way of doing this,’” he says.

Diagnosing a problem

Later that evening, Martin began jotting down ideas and sketching models. It was the beginnings of a game-changing device that would eventually be commercialised with the support of Enterprise Ireland.

Having spent 17 years as a Consultant Cardiologist, Martin has witnessed first-hand the harsh realities of TR. A vast majority of these patients are elderly and too frail for open-heart surgery. TR happens when the tricuspid valve doesn’t close properly. This causes blood to flow backwards, which over time can lead to permanent heart damage as well as liver and kidney problems.

Martin wanted to create a device that sealed the gap in the tricuspid valve, thereby restoring valve function without a big operation. On his return from Paris in 2014, Martin set the wheels in motion and filed a patent for a new concept.

Remedying a solution

To build the device, Martin needed a partner who combined both business and technical understanding. Dr Bruce Murphy, an Associate Professor in Biomechanical Engineering, was the perfect fit.

“A colleague of mine told me about a guy in Trinity College, Bruce, who was building a mitral valve for the heart,” he says. “I was astonished that he was building something so sophisticated here in Dublin.”

Martin and Bruce agreed to develop a prototype together. It was Bruce who suggested applying for Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund, and the pair were successful in their application in 2016. “The fact that Enterprise Ireland invested in us showed we were onto something,” says Martin.

With funding secured, the team began to grow. A chance meeting between Bruce and Dr Lucy O’Keefe, now CEO and co-founder at CroíValve, would prove to be a pivotal moment. She was a key hire, bringing extensive experience in start-ups and medical device development to the project.

Caring about safety

As part of the Commercialisation Fund, it was agreed that the team would develop their technology in Trinity College. Martin assigned his intellectual property to the university to develop the idea further.

During gaps in Martin’s busy schedule, he would provide clinical input as the team fine-tuned their designs and built a working prototype. “It was a huge learning curve for me. I’m not from an engineering or business background,” he says.

As the prototype took shape, Martin and the team began a rigorous testing programme. This would be a critical step to ensure the end product was safe and effective. Animal models were chosen to mimic aspects of TR. Early signs were positive, and the results would be crucial in securing additional investment.

The team reached out to industry contacts, with the support of Enterprise Ireland. Having successfully pitched their prototype, the project received €3.2m in funding from HBAN MedTech, Irrus Syndicates, Atlantic Bridge University Fund and SOSV Ventures.

“That was further validation for our solution following a detailed assessment. It was a huge achievement,” says Martin.

Believing in your team

The funding accelerated the development of the technology into first-in-human studies, which took place in St James University Hospital Dublin in March 2020. Carried out by an experienced heart team, the device performed well and was implanted and removed without complications.

“That day, the staff were incredible,” he added. “It was amazing to think how far we’d come.”

CroíValve’s device has been proven safe, simple and effective through extensive pre-clinical testing. But the journey is by no means over for Martin and his team. They spun out from Trinity College and into the Liffey Trust Enterprise, Dublin, where CroíValve is now based. They’re always looking to improve the device and still work with Enterprise Ireland today.

“They continue to provide invaluable advice, financial assistance, and important introductions to key industry contacts,” says Martin.

For anyone embarking on their own project, Martin has some advice: “Focus on the benefit to people. It’s a lot of hard work but incredibly fulfilling.”


Discover how to take your idea from lab to market with Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund.


Nearform – Necessity is the mother of invention

“We’ve grown massively and have taken on new clients and staff. And part of that is down to the underlying improvement in our ability to deliver quickly.”

– Ger O’Shaughnessy, Head of Propositions, NearForm.

Case Study: NearForm

Every growing company juggles day-to-day demands with the need to innovate. NearForm, a Waterford-based global software consultancy with 200 staff in 29 countries, had the vision and ability to scale, but they needed help and found it in Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund.

Ger O’Shaughnessy, Head of Propositions at NearForm explains: “”The potential for us was to develop software tools to help us deliver more solutions at higher speed and scale in a repeatable way. While we had all the skills and leadership to do this, we needed some commercial space to be able to take staff off client work and dedicate them to research and development.”

Seeing the potential

In 2019, the team at NearForm started to look at how they could evolve their services, but they needed to innovate quickly to make their growth plans a reality. In Q4, they applied, and were approved, for Enterprise Ireland’s (Business Innovation Initiative) under the Agile Innovation Fund. Nearform’s Development Advisor  guided them through the application and approval process.

The company has a global client list: London banks, US pharmaceutical companies, retail chains in South America, as well as blue chip brands like American Express, The New York Times and closer to home, the Health Service Executive (HSE).  But despite the wide variety of fields, all these organisations face the same challenge.

Facing the challenge

Ger says: “All of our clients want to be modern digital enterprises with market leading digital services. It’s the number one challenge in our market, not just for growth but for survival, as the world is dominated by fast-moving digital companies.”

“We’ve always been able to deliver change for clients with great digital solutions. What we came to realise – in the age of Amazon – was that delivering a great solution was not enough. We wanted to create digital platforms to deliver new features and services continuously for clients, so they could move as fast or faster than the digital native disruptors that might take their market,” he adds.

What NearForm hoped to achieve was ambitious. A lot of their work was, and still is, delivered from the open web platform – a global shared ecosystem for coders – using open source components. The team at NearForm realised that if they wanted faster, reliable solutions for their clients, they needed to move the existing open source technology forward.  By doing so, the technology would be more ‘enterprise ready’.

NearForm wanted to “advance the whole open source platform and make it available to everybody, not just our clients,” Ger says.

“Because we’re a tech services company, there’s always a pressure to be billable. We were able to do it because of the commercial cover afforded by the fund,” he says.

Learning from the process

The speedy application process for the Business Innovation Initiative (Agile Innovation Fund) had an unexpected benefit. “It made us think about our own approach and outcomes carefully,” Ger says.  “It was literally applied for in October and approved in December of the same year.”

The project kicked off in December 2019 – the timing proved to be serendipitous. Amongst the many benefits envisioned, the project aimed to accelerate their solutions. Once Covid hit, speed became even more important for their clients. And new clients soon came their way.

NearForm were approached by the HSE to create the Covid tracking app for Ireland and went on to create similar apps for nine jurisdictions. Ger says: “Everywhere from Jersey to New Jersey. We created the software, but we also donated it to the Linux Foundation so that every country could have the Covid tracking app as open source code.”

Overall, across all sectors, the impact of the innovation fund was faster delivery of high quality solutions and of course, increased revenue.  “We’ve grown massively and have taken on new clients and staff. And part of that is down to the underlying improvement in our ability to deliver quickly,” Ger says.

Their unique understanding of the open source code they advanced has caught the attention of global investors. They recently secured funding from a US venture capital firm. “One of the reasons we got investment is that they were so interested in our expertise in open source. Being able to show that we were investing in that was definitely a contributing factor to getting funding.”

What advice would he give to anyone thinking of applying for the Agile Innovation Fund and pursuing an innovation project? “It’s an opportunity to create longer-term value,” Ger says. “Our view is that if you’re not innovating then your competitors will be. Innovation is not just a nice to have, but a necessity for growth.”

To find out more about Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund, contact your Development Advisor or call our R&D unit on 01 727 2120.


Output Sports

Meet Output: the smartest team in sport

A passion for sports and data has proved the winning formula for Dr Martin O’Reilly, co-founder and CEO at Output Sports.

Founded in 2018, the company develops technology to test and track the performance of athletes. However, the origins of the team stretch back further.

In 2012, Martin was first exposed to wearable sensors, signal processing, and machine learning during an undergraduate degree in Sports and Exercise Engineering, NUI Galway (NUIG).

“At first, I was just interested in what could be measured in the gym and that led to a PhD in Machine Learning for Signal Processing at UCD”, laughs Martin, as he reflects on his commercialisation journey with Enterprise Ireland.

Getting the ball rolling

Martin discovered a problem during his fieldwork.

He realised that athlete testing and tracking involved the use of cumbersome, bespoke equipment. These tools were unreliable, expensive and time-consuming.

When he looked deeper into the issue, he realised that strength coaches and medics were spending less time doing the things they truly cared about – coaching and rehabilitating others.

Products like Fitbit and Nike’s FuelBand provide macro-level analysis like step and calorie count. But, Martin wanted to go further by measuring performance related attributes like strength, power, balance, speed and mobility.

Martin and his fellow PhD student Dr Darragh Whelan (also now co-founder and CSO at Output Sports) began collecting interdisciplinary research and exploring algorithms. They felt sporting performance could be measured more accurately, and at a lower cost, by developing a single, wearable motion sensor.

Martin and Darragh’s PhD advisor Brian Caulfield, Director of the SFI Insight Centre for Data Analytics at UCD, adopted a leadership role in their project.

“Brain’s involvement was pivotal for us. He surrounded us with anthropologists, statisticians, doctors, and physios. He’s a brilliant creative mind and still sits on the board today as an adviser,” says Martin.

Setting the bar high

The team was about to be given a jolt of confidence. Darragh conducted 80 interviews with sports practitioners who completed quantitative and qualitative surveys.

“Their pain points almost perfectly matched our algorithms and research. That encouraged us to commercialise,” says Martin.

In 2018, the team applied for an Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund, allowing them to ramp up and develop a minimum viable product (MVP).

The team gathered extensive feedback from 30 potential users, as they tinkered and iterated the MVP. In 2019, Julian Eberle, the third co-founder and also CTO, came on board and began leading the technical side of things, such as developing mobile applications and implementing the MVP’s algorithms.

“We were beginning to put the meat on the bones,” says Martin. Together with Enterprise Ireland, they created a rigorous project plan with a series of milestones and timelines. Martin and the team regularly met with Enterprise Ireland advisors Gerard Lande and Tom Bannon to help focus the project from a commercial viewpoint.

After many months of hard work, the team launched Output // Capture in February 2020. The product can test multiple aspects of athletic performance with a matchbox-sized wearable sensor that can be fitted to your wrist or upper arm.

With Enterprise Ireland’s support, the team began reaching out to contacts in the world ofsport. They were excited by the names showing interest.

Believing in your team

Soon after launching Output // Capture, the company spun out from UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science. The team made the short move to the university’s innovation hub NovaUCD, where they are now based.

Output Sports now has 200 clients from professional sports teams right down to school and university levels. Among the company’s partners are several professional soccer clubs, this includes Premier League sides including Burnley, Norwich City, and Watford. The team also partner with Leinster Rugby and the England men’s football team.

Having successfully commercialised their product, Martin still works alongside Enterprise Ireland today.

“We received funds from other investors, but the key to that was the backing we received from Enterprise Ireland. They also helped with grants and opened doors for us to make important contacts, so they’ve been fantastic.”

For anyone embarking on their own project, Martin has some advice: “Surround yourself with mentors and listen. Most of all, enjoy yourself. We’ve loved every second of our journey.”


Discover how to take your idea from lab to market with Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund.

TriviumVet – Innovating with an Eye on Global Pet Healthcare

“The research and validation work we embarked on with the Innovation Voucher Scheme from Enterprise Ireland gave us a very data-driven solid foundation as a platform to be able to make sound strategic decisions and move to the next stages of our ambitions” – Dr Liam Byrne, Head of Technical and Business Development, TriviumVet

The global companion animal health sector market has been growing like never before, along with the rising numbers in the adoption and purchase of pets. This has created a need for more sophisticated and efficient therapies for animals and the mission of TriviumVet is to deliver ground-breaking innovative healthcare solutions to bridge the treatment gaps in veterinary healthcare for these companion animals.

Founded by a seasoned group of entrepreneurial experts, the Waterford-based company now has many breakthrough veterinary therapeutics in the pipeline and has been named in Ireland’s top 100 start-ups for the second year running. Dr Liam Byrne, Head of Technical and Business Development at TriviumVet, who has a background in chemistry, joined the company two years ago and from his time in Waterford company EirGen Pharma was familiar with the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher Scheme.

The company is on a fast-moving trajectory around product development and needed to push research and development around formulation, good manufacturing process, scale-up plans and more. This stage was crucial before moving to the clinical aspects and proof of concept, safety studies and field studies before approval to ensure all safety and standards are being met along with regulatory and licensing requirements for the European and US markets.

Working with three academic institutions – TU Tallaght, Waterford IT and Liam’s alma mater Dublin City University, TriviumVet used the Enterprise Ireland Innovation scheme vouchers to embark on proof of concept research for a number of their products. As part of this product development, TriviumVet used an Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher and worked with the PMBRC Gateway in WIT to carry out research allowing them to proceed with clinical studies of their treatment – an exciting project which is currently underway.

“The work we did through the voucher scheme went from an idea that we were examining, to us being able to validate that theory with lots of data and reports that we could use to then create a portable point of care test. We were in a position to avail of specialist skills that we did not have in-house,” explained Liam. “We were able to research and investigate and without this process it wouldn’t have been possible to know if this would work. It went from a concept we were talking about to reality”.

Liam Byrne points out that the innovations have helped TriviumVet to build up the foundations of their business and they hope in the future to be able to develop a suite of diagnostic tools and have not just one test but a range of them. “The innovation vouchers allowed us to find our feet in a relatively risk free way. We now benefit with a clear path forward and are in a position to move to the next steps of development of these biosensors and their commercial development”.

“I would highly recommend companies to get involved in the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher process,” says Liam. “The process is very user friendly and they are happy to guide you. It is also very beneficial to partner with an academic institution. If you’re trying to answer a technical problem or trouble shoot an issue or if you are trying to test whether a concept is valid, the innovation voucher can be invaluable”.

To take your next step towards Innovation visit Innovation Vouchers.

Life Scientific: Partnerships powering success in a highly-regulated sector

The story of Life Scientific is one of perseverance in a complex industry, ingenious methods to prove a novel concept, and a leader with the utmost respect for the process and the people involved.

Nicola Mitchell is the founder and CEO of Life Scientific: a company that develops high-quality, off-patent crop protection products, giving farmers a speedier, cost-effective option.

We spoke with her shortly after she was announced as an EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist to learn about the woman at the helm, the remarkable story of Life Scientific, and how Enterprise Ireland supports helped the company along the way.

“Samantha Power is actually my first cousin,” Mitchell says as she describes the strong women in her family as her major influences. “Samantha’s mother really influenced me when I was younger. She went to the States, and was the first woman in Ireland to get a high court ruling that she was allowed to bring her children with her.” Vera Delaney, the Irish-American academic, author and Democratic Party member’s mother was a nephrologist who, after tenaciously climbing the ranks in a male-dominated sector during the 1970’s and 1980’s, refused a top job in a Manhattan hospital because it would mean giving up the face time she had with her patients. Mitchell cites this integrity as powerfully influencing decisions she made throughout her career.

She credits her collegiate and later employment choices to her father, whose footsteps she followed by studying chemistry. He cautioned her not to accept a post in a large multinational corporation, but instead get a job in which she could learn and eventually build her own business. “In Ireland, for chemists, it’s all about multinationals, you’re doing manufacturing but have no sight of warranty or business aspects; you don’t do global stuff.” Her father had been what she describes as ‘a cog in a wheel’ in large multinationals, and Mitchell decided that she didn’t want to miss out on being global. “Why can’t we build a multinational in Ireland where we get to be global, where we get to do the R&D, where we get to build the brands?” With Life Scientific, Mitchell would go on to disrupt the regulatory landscape for off-patent agrochemicals from the unique R&D base she had built in Ireland.

After spending 10 years working in a generic agrochemical manufacturing company, absorbing everything she could, Mitchell set her sights on starting her business, knowing that it needed to manufacture something of true value. “I started Life Scientific in 1995 and from the get-go knew it couldn’t be a service business. If you really want to be big, you have to have products, that’s how you’ll scale, that’s how you’ll be exponential.”

Building a company with an expert offering

Two decades of learning the tricks of the trade from leading multinationals allowed Life Scientific to pinpoint precisely where it was strong, and where it could add the most value. “We knew that if we’d built the capability around regulation — a new field at the time — we could not just understand it, but know more than anyone else about a very complex, strategic area of the industry.”

Mitchell was always drawn to complexity. It’s what led her to challenge her team to reverse engineer the Coca-Cola recipe; to prove that they could not only take apart and recreate it but that they could take a fresh view with their product offering. In proving the point, they showed that they could offer farmers an identical product at a lower cost, and get it to them sooner being first to market.

Mitchell is quick to point out that it wasn’t just about capability; it was also about humility. “There’s a phenomenal level of innovation and professionalism in our industry, and it’s a privilege to be in it. So why would we think we could do anything better than the multinationals?”

Changing the rule book

Challenging the status quo meant more than having an impressive story to tell, it meant calling for the rules of the game to be changed, rules that to date, had been largely written by and for the big multinationals. The world is new; we have capabilities here we didn’t have before. We have an LC-MS [liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry] system that wouldn’t fit a room when I was growing up, that was almost prohibitive for a multinational or a university to have. Now, they sit on benchtops, and we can’t keep up with the capability. We had to take a fresh view.”

With a value proposition that was impossible to contest, doors that were to-date slammed shut began to open. The multinationals could no longer deny the science or the methods, and the business side of things started to make sense. “They could see we were much more nimble, flexible, fast, and entrepreneurial. So we’ve got some very good contracts, and that allowed me to pivot the model.”

Yet even with new contracts in place, Life Scientific felt the squeeze from the regulators. With the weight of a global brand and status behind them, the multinationals would attempt to get Life Scientific’s products withdrawn. “Multinationals are very clever, and they don’t want us really, we’re competitors.”

With an identical product and a transparent business came a sort of freedom; an ability to operate by different rules. “Regulatory submissions are complex. Knowing how to communicate, giving them a sense of who you are, your integrity, that you want the best, that you believe in your role as being a competitive choice for the farmer. So we thought if we put in the identical product, they don’t have to do any evaluation. If we can get them to accept an identical item molecularly, aren’t we simplifying things?”

Life Scientific ended its beginnings as a contract research organisation, offering services in product development and regulation, becoming an independent product company. “We got our first product authorised in France in 2012 and have gone from €2 million in revenue to €60 million today.”

Not the average day-to-day

Mitchell is proud of her EY Entrepreneur of the Year nomination and hopes that in entering the competition, she can raise the profile of Life Scientific and the innovative science they have developed.

During these turbulent times, the company is lucky to be mostly unaffected by COVID-19. They are operating in a space with one selling season, and thankfully, that had come and gone by the time the pandemic hit. Mitchell tells us that it has given companies like Life Scientific the opportunity to be appreciated once again. “The link between science and nutritious, sustainable food got lost. But now it’s becoming valued again.” But she feels that culturally, the company is suffering and will continue to suffer until they can operate together again. “Normally, I just look at somebody, and we have 10 ideas. Now I can’t see them, and for the new people coming in, who would normally absorb the energy and mimic what they’re seeing, that’s gone.”

Partnering for a successful future

Mitchell continues to look confidently towards the future. Her focus is on nurturing close relationships with company partners: the customers, suppliers and regulators with whom she speaks daily. Keeping these relationships blooming allows her to set and realise big goals, work with the best, move fast and scale.

“In the next five years, we’ll be at €250 million. We’ll be building capability, relationships and new markets. It’s quite a visible roadmap.”

Life Scientific will build important relationships in the area of big distribution to open up new markets; specifically, North and South America, though with different strategic approaches.

“We work with the best which will allow us to realise South America, which is rapidly growing and hugely exciting for us.”

For distribution companies in the already-established North American region, Life Scientific is offering the technology and putting the choice of operating or failing in the distributor’s hands. “We’re offering mirror images of the multinationals’ latest and greatest products to do with them what they will, working on their side to empower them in the face of big multinational suppliers.”

Supported by Enterprise Ireland at each step

Along the road to success, Mitchell says that the support she received from EI has been indispensable. “They gave us our first R&D grant, they’ve helped us and believed in us since 2006.”

As well as financial grants, Mitchell took part in EI’s Leadership 4 Growth Programme and International Selling Programme, which she says equipped her with the knowledge she needed at the time. “The programmes have been hugely influential, connecting with people who are at the top of their game can set you upright.”

Currently, as well as working towards adopting Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Lean approach, Mitchell is thinking about what winning the EY Entrepreneur of the Year award would mean. She tells us that it would provide visibility for Life Scientific and for anyone like her who had no expectations at a young age. “I’d be an ambassador for girls like I was: if you see it, you can be it.”

Click here to watch the opening of Enterprise Ireland’s International Markets Week 2020, featuring Nicola Mitchell.