SiriusXT, a University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out, has been named Best Early Stage Company in Ireland, at the final of the 2015 InterTradeIreland All-Island Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition held last night at Clontarf Castle.
In addition to the Best Early Stage Company Award, SiriusXT won a cash prize of €50,000.
Now in its 13th year, the Seedcorn competition is the island’s biggest business competition for new start and early stage companies and is aimed at companies with a new funding requirement. It has an overall cash prize fund of €280,000, and does not involve taking any equity stake.
SiriusXT, co-founded by Dr Kenneth Fahy, Dr Fergal O’Reilly and Dr Paul Sheridan, as a spin-out from the UCD School of Physics, has spent eight years developing the technology for its soft x-ray microscope called SXT.
SXT is the first soft x-ray microscope of its kind in the world; it is a bench-top system that allows researchers to produce images in their own labs. Their product takes a powerful laser to make a little fireball as hot as the centre of the sun and about a tenth of the width of a human hair in diameter. This fireball produces a kind of light that allows them to illuminate single cells or tissue samples and produce beautiful 3D images of cells that cannot be produced any other way.
The images reveal in unprecedented detail the inner workings of life, drugs and disease on a cellular scale. The light sources that have been used to pioneer the technique are the size of a football stadium and cost over €250 million. Their light source will fit on a small table, and will let disease and drug researchers see changes in cells with a tool they can easily fit into their microscopy labs.
Tony McEnroe, CEO, SiriusXT said, “We are delighted to win the best Early Stage Company award. Entering the competition has been very rewarding for us. The investors on the judging panel acknowledge that they ‘got’ the value proposition when this was presented and we have learned that it is not just the best technology that makes the best business proposition, but the best complete solution for the target customer’s problem.”
Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said, “I would like to congratulate SiriusXT, a young UCD spin-out company, on winning the Best Early Stage Company award at this year’s InterTradeIreland All-Island Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition. By winning this award SiriusXT, which has emerged from research carried out over many years by the founders in the UCD School of Physics leading to the development of a novel soft x-ray microscope technology, is demonstrating the quality of the companies which are emerging from University.”
At the event Ocean Survivor, founded by Kieran Normoyle, which is based at the University of Limerick, was crowned overall winner of this year’s competition and won a cash prize of €100,000.
Ocean Survivor manufactures a range of safety equipment aimed primarily at the off-shore oil industry. It is currently developing a simple to use technology that mitigates the effects of hypothermia, while promoting comfort and mental well-being in a survival situation.
Thomas Hunter McGowan, CEO, InterTradeIreland said, “According to the latest IVCA figures released recently, the funding landscape on the island is maturing and has witnessed a doubling in the number of venture capital funds operating in Ireland with the average size of fund increasing from €20m to €100m. This presents companies with a range of diverse funding opportunities to choose from when thinking about financing their business.”
He added, “It is important that as we continue to see growth in our economy, high potential start-ups are given the necessary supports, assistance and guidance to grow and develop their companies. The Seedcorn competition imitates the real life investment process providing companies with the opportunity to put their business idea to the test and to ensure that it is investor- ready and stands up to external scrutiny.”
He concluded “I congratulate Ocean Survivor and SiriusXT on their success today – they have both overcome extremely tough competition not only today but also on their way to the final. We are looking forward to working with them in the future and watching their business grow.”
To date, InterTradeIreland has supported 2,151 enterprising companies through the Seedcorn process. With €197 million in new equity being raised by the companies who have reached the regional finals stage of the Seedcorn competition over the past 12 years, the competition has a strong track record of supporting early business start-ups to become investor ready.