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Innovation in Northern Ireland - the latest class of 2017

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by Startacus Admin

Innovation in NI
Following last week's awards ceremony for Invent 2017 - from Connect at Catalyst Inc. - we thought it was a good opportunity to highlight some of the latest innovations and innovative startups coming out of Northern Ireland. These are only a handful of NI’s numerous worthy startups, inspired specifically by Invent.


Winner of the Electronics category, Evy is the brainchild of two electrical engineering students from Queen’s University Belfast. Essentially, Evy is a bag - any kind of bag - with RFID antennae built in. The idea is that the bag will come with five disposable RFID stickers that can be put on anything. These are quickly and easily registered through the companion app, and the bag will scan its own contents to ensure nothing is missing. This can be synced with your calendar for example, so that your child won’t forget their football shoes on PE day, you won’t get to your optician's appointment only to find you’ve left your glasses at home, etc.


Hug, winner of the Engineering category, comes from the mind of product designer Fiona Bennington. It is a compact, discreet, wearable gel pack that can be heated in the microwave or chilled in the freezer and worn to provide pain relief. Bennington’s concern wasn’t just discretion but safety and comfort, which led her to the use of gel beads rather than liquid, and to develop her own method of ultrasonic welding to create a product with a clear front to view the beads, and a soft, velvet back.


KegoMatic, the category winner for Agri Science, is another to come out of Queen’s University Belfast. This brainchild of six Electrical Engineering students aims to do away with long waiting times in bars and festivals and the like when beer kegs run dry. The simple system allows up to four kegs to be tapped at once, and the built-in weighing scales will keep track of how full the kegs are, switching to the next automatically when one is empty. Alongside this, data is sent to a companion app, allowing the bar owner to keep tabs more accurately on the rate at which beer is being drained. The ability to link this data to till data also means that theft becomes a lot harder.

Phion Therapeutics

Overall winner of Invent 2017, Phion also comes from Queen’s University Belfast. Dr. Helen McCarthy’s work on drug delivery technology is the basis of Phion. This innovative technology has the ability to deliver almost any anionic substance - such as nucleic acids - to any part of the body. Currently, the biggest hurdle of this kind of nanomedicine is reaching beyond the liver - Phion Therapeutics’ system overcomes this hurdle, which is a significant advance for the pharmaceutical industry and makes them the deserving winner of Invent.


SeatView was the winner of the Consumer Internet category, and is basically Google Street View but for...well, seats. The Bangor-based platform is intended to be a companion to ticket selling sites, allowing you to see the view - 360 degrees - that you will have from the seat you are about to spend money on.


Winner of the Enterprise Software category, Uleska is a cyber security startup based in Belfast. Uleska builds cyber security into web applications while they are being built rather than as an afterthought. The startup is determined to make cyber security a preventative measure rather than a cure once something bad has already happened.

And here's an example of what can be acheived 12 months down the line...

Elemental Software

Last year’s winner of the Enterprise Software category, Elemental Software is a tech-for-good startup going from strength to strength. Elemental SoftwareWinning awards left, right, and centre - including recently the 2017 JCI Derry award for Best New Startup and one of Computer Weekly’s ‘UK’s Most Influential Women in Tech’ (Co-Founder, Leeann Monk) - Elemental is a cloud based platform, with social prescribing and community empowerment at its core. Co-founded by Jennifer Neff and Leeann Monk, Elemental connects the main stakeholders in the health improvement supply chain and reduces the demand on GP surgeries and A&E departments, saving lives and money. 12 months ago they were pitching (and winning) at Invent 2016 and 12 months on they have raised £300k with the help of ClearlySo, Europe’s leading impact investment bank, and greatly strengthen their core team and board of directors. 

This blog has been verified by Rise: R3a0acae36f24f0ad197f4fc0504877b5


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Published on: 8th October 2017

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