Winning Team


HydroBloc: Reducing the burden of Chronic Pain

NUI Galway



Special Prize


PEAR: Enabling Next Generation Biological Imaging

University College Dublin



Seed Phase Teams

SMARTprobe: Enabling better breast cancer diagnosis


  • Breast cancer is the 2nd most commonly diagnosed cancer in women
  • 1 in 9 women will develop breast cancer in the course of their lifetime
  • Ireland ranked 4th highest mortality rate in Europe
  • Incidence rate of breast cancer is on the increase
  • Approximately 3000 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed last year
  • No real-time diagnosis available so all biopsies go the laboratory even though approximately 80% are benign
  • 8 – 10 day wait for patient diagnosis
  • Significant distress & anxiety for patient & families waiting for results

Solution SMARTProbe will provide real-time point of care enhancement of breast cancer diagnosis.

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SepTec: Reducing the burden of Sepsis

Challenge Sepsis is a global epidemic. With an estimated 30 million cases each year worldwide, sepsis causes 1 death every 3- 4 seconds. While a patient with sepsis is around 5 times more likely to die than a patient who has suffered a heart attack or stroke, sepsis is one of the most common, least-recognized illnesses in both the developed and developing world. Through engagement with key stakeholders the specific challenges identified for sepsis patients are:

  • Sepsis is not recognised, detected and diagnosed early enough. Sepsis screening is disconnected from diagnosis and treatment because current clinical diagnosis using Blood Culture requires a centralised lab, is too slow and lacks accuracy (55-65%) – leading to antibiotic overuse, antimicrobial resistance and increased mortality risk;
  • Time is critical: every hour’s delay in optimum antibiotic treatment increases mortality risk by 8%, Broad-spectrum antibiotics have a 30% failure rate.

Delayed sepsis diagnosis results in patient mortality, morbidity and excess health care costs:

  • Most expensive condition to treat – approximately $32.5bn each year in the US and EU combined;
  • Number one hospital expense accounting for ~30% of all hospital deaths;
  • Rapid sepsis diagnosis is needed greatest in ICU where Sepsis is fatal for 30-40% of patients;
  • Approximately 60% of Sepsis episodes are diagnosed in the ED (~ 3.9m cases in the US).

Solution SepTec addresses major Societal Challenges in global health, mortality, demographic change and wellbeing.  By addressing the critical issues of time and accuracy of sepsis diagnosis, SepTec will help clinicians with diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of sepsis reducing mortality rates, hospital stays, recovery times and increase survival rates.  It combines screening and pathogen detection in one compact, near-patient instrument that will detect Sepsis causing bacteria in whole blood within 15 minutes. Not only will SepTec improve patient outcomes, it will reduce the inappropriate use of antibiotics that leads to the proliferation of antibiotic resistant pathogens. By being near-patient SepTec will reduce the need for large, high-cost and expert intensive labs and puts timely decision-making in the hands of clinicians.  SepTec’s low-cost, ease-of-use and portability will also provide new access to Sepsis testing in low-income countries who carry the biggest burden of Sepsis, yet where large labs, complex technology and blood-culture testing are not realistic or viable.

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Harnessing gene editing to treat rare diseases such as EB

Challenge Recessive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (RDEB) is a rare genetic skin fragility and blistering disorder in which no curative treatment currently exists with palliative care only in use.

Solution Our proposed solution is to develop a gene editing curative treatment that can be applied topically to wound sites of RDEB patients. This therapeutic approach will enable the permanent correction of the underlying mutations that give rise to RDEB, in a non-invasive manner.

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Minimising hospital waiting-lists and optimising healthcare capacity

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