NovaUCD has announced the eight new ventures which are set to pitch their business plans at the final of University College Dublin’s (UCD) annual accelerator programme with the overall winner receiving the 2021 UCD Startup of the Year award. Between them the participating early-stage ventures are seeking to raise seed investment of several million euro.

L-R: Sinéad Buckley, Nightleaf; Alan Power, FeetAI; Marysol Angeloni, Eofis; Hugh Sheehy, Go Eve; Avril Power, giyst; Jürgen Osing, PEARlabs; Richard Cooke, La Casa and Dr Harriet Treacy, Blood Brothers. Photo: Nick Bradshaw, Fotonic

The aim of the UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme, which is run by NovaUCD, is to support the creation and launch of sustainable and profitable new startups emerging from the University.

The emerging startups on this year’s UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme are, Blood Brothers, Eofis, FeetAI, giyst, Go Eve, La Casa, Nightleaf and PEARlabs. 

The eight startups

Blood Brothers is developing an employee health and wellness benefits solution for men. Blood Brothers’ mobile-first solution is for employers who want to bridge a gap in men's health by offering their male employees an easy way to access men's health experts, men's health blood testing and curated health content, all from their mobile device. Blood Brothers was founded by Dr Harriet Treacy and Peter Lumley working alongside Professor Carel Le Roux, UCD School of Medicine and the UCD Diabetes Complications Research Centre.

Eofis is developing a corporate e-learning app, using automatic quiz generation and an optimal, efficient, and lightweight learning schedule, to greatly improve employees’ retention of vital content. Eofis offers a personalised learning experience with easily accessible progress and engagement metrics to team leaders and senior staff to track and optimise their teams’ performance. Eofis was founded by Marysol Angeloni, a postgraduate student in the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School, and Tiarnach Ó Riada, a graduate of the UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

FeetAI is using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and computer vision technology to support children’s footwear fitting. FeetAI is developing SizeWise, a digital platform that allows a parent to scan their child’s foot from a smart phone, builds a 3D model of the foot, and presents a recommended shoe size for their child, accommodating for healthy growth. Notifications can also be sent to the parent when a child may have to change shoe size to help keeping their child in healthy footwear. The patent pending solution is fully integrated with online footwear retailers’ e-commerce solution to enhance their customer experience, increase sales and reduce returns due to poor fitting. Alan Power, UCD School of Computer Science and CeADAR, Ireland’s Centre for Applied AI, is the founder of FeetAI.

giyst generates automated AI-powered video summaries to drive discovery and enable efficient consumption of the essence of content. Unlike the limits of manual summarization, giyst’s technology creates endless volumes of human-quality video summaries in real time. giyst aims to transform the video discovery process, while helping users combat information overload. giyst founders are Avril Power, Colm Murphy, and Dr Ricardo Simon Carbajo, UCD School of Computer Science and CeADAR, Ireland’s Centre for Applied AI.

Go Eve, a UCD and Imperial College London start-up incorporated in the UK, is focused on bringing an innovative EV charging system to market. The patent-pending ‘DockChain’ innovation, invented by academic researchers from UCD and Imperial, allows multiple EVs to be ‘electrified’ from one base charging point with a daisy chain of inexpensive and simple DockChain units. Go Eve was founded by John Goodbody, Hugh Sheehy, and the academic research team behind DockChain.

La Casa is developing a care platform to improve the wellbeing of older people so that they can live independently in their own home for as long as possible. Using AI it can anticipate issues and suggest early interventions to carers or family to improve user wellbeing, reduce care dependence and decrease the rate of age-related decline. La Casa was founded by Richard Cooke, Rodd Bond, and Paul Boland, UCD School of Computer Science and CeADAR, Ireland’s Centre for Applied AI.

Nightleaf is developing a highly innovative wearable device, based on the principles of design thinking and value driven care, to revolutionise healthcare for Dry Eye disease patients by providing them with an effective overnight treatment. Tears are needed for healthy and comfortable eyes but Dry Eye disease occurs when the eyes do not produce enough tears, leading to a gritty pain sensation in the eye and debilitating visual disturbances. Nightleaf’s founders are Sinéad Buckley and Steve Cullen, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering who identified this unmet clinical need while on the BioInnovate Ireland Fellowship.

PEARlabs has developed a novel photonic chip which enables ultra-high spatial resolution at video rates in optical microscopy, far beyond the diffraction limit of visible light. The PEARlabs technology aims to transform the understanding of processes such as cell signalling and cell proliferation in cancer and other life-threatening diseases. PEARlabs was founded by Professor Dominic Zerulla as a spin-out from the UCD School of Physics. Jürgen Osing, who recently joined PEARlabs as a commercialistion expert is participating on the programme along with Professor Zerulla.

Blood Brothers, FeetAI, giyst, La Casa and Nightleaf are currently being supported through the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund.

The main objective of the UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme is to equip participants with the knowledge, skills and understanding that will be required to work as part of a team leading a new commercial venture. On completion of the programme the expectation is that the emerging startups will have developed a commercially viable business plan.

Following virtual pitches to an external judging panel, an overall winner will be selected and will receive the 2021 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme Award. The members of the external judging panel are, Dr Helen McBreen, Atlantic Bridge (Chair); Denis Dudley, AIB; Caroline Gaynor, Lightstone Ventures; Dr Sharon O’Kane, LivaNova and a NovaUCD Entrepreneur-in-Residence, and John O’Sullivan, ACT Venture Capital.

No in-person 2021 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme Awards final event will take place this year due to Covid-19. A summary video of the final pitches, including the announcement of the overall winner, will be available to view from 12:30 pm on 1 December via https://www.youtube.com/UCDInnovation and via NovaUCD’s Twitter and LinkedIn channels (@NovaUCD).