University College Dublin Spin-Out Secures €3 million in Horizon 2020 Funding

SiriusXT, a spin-out company from University College Dublin’s (UCD) School of Physics, has secured €3 million in the latest round of Horizon 2020 SME Instrument Phase 2 funding.

The company was co-founded in 2015 by Dr Kenneth Fahy, Dr Fergal O’Reilly and Dr Paul Sheridan following 10 years of research developing the technology that underpins the novel soft x-ray tomography (SXT) microscope, which is now being commercialised by SiriusXT.

This is the first commercial lab-scale SXT microscope of its kind in the world, allowing researchers to illuminate whole single cells or tissue samples and produce 3D images that cannot be produced in any other way. Such images reveal, in unprecedented detail, the inner workings of drugs and disease on a cellular scale and enable scientists track how drugs and disease affect specific cells.

The company plans to use this funding to take its technology from a current prototype to a first product with a pilot system being trialled by an early adopter in the UK in 2017.

Tony McEnroe, CEO, SiriusXT said, “Our main target market are the thousands of worldwide research laboratories who are focused on disease research and drug discovery. Our SXT microscopes have a similar engineering complexity and price tag to an electron microscope, and our goal is to make them as ubiquitous as electron microscopes in our target market.”

He added, “For a start-up company, just a year in existence, this win not only funds a significant part of our product development costs but it also validates the quality of the company’s business plan.”

Dr Fergal O’Reilly, co-founder and CTO, SiriusXT said, “Securing this Horizon 2020 funding is a key development for the company and represents a significant achievement for us and vindicates the support we have received to date. SiriusXT was born following a decade of Enterprise Ireland support for research and commercialisation activities in the Spectroscopy Group in the UCD School of Physics. Our Group’s activities, which resulted in the invention and commercialisation of the SXT technology, were also supported by Science Foundation Ireland, the European Union’s FP7 programme, and companies such as Intel and Sematech along with NovaUCD and others over the last number of years.”

SiriusXT, a NovaUCD client company, which last year was named Best Early Stage Company in Ireland at the final of the InterTradeIreland All-Island Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition, currently employs a staff of 8 who are mostly scientists and engineers.

Tony McEnroe concluded, “We plan to more than triple our current staff numbers over the coming years, both to bolster our complement of design engineers and physicists, as well as to grow and support commercial activities.”

In addition to SiriusXT, two other Dublin based companies, Artomatix Ltd and Nuritas Ltd, also received funding under this latest Horizon 2020 funding round. Nuritas, a bioinformatics start-up, founded by Dr Nora Khaldi completed the 3-month UCD 2013 VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme held at NovaUCD.

A total of 19 Irish SMEs have now been granted Phase 2 funding under the Horizon2020 SME Instrument since its launch in 2014.

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