12 Irish start-ups with ‘Big Ideas’ to build the future

We look at 12 investor-ready deep tech start-ups pitching at Enterprise Ireland’s Big Ideas 2021 annual event.

The 12 investor-ready start-ups took part in an annual event that showcases deep tech start-up innovation emerging from higher education institutes.

Now in its 13th year, Big Ideas 2021 will take place online for the second year running.

“The commercialisation of companies that were born as a result of a research idea is an imperative for Enterprise Ireland and the State as their success will change our collective future for the better”

The event will see founders pitch their ‘big ideas’, which include a medical device to help cancer patients prevent chemotherapy induced hair loss, a smartphone enabled solution to get children active and moving, an AI-powered outside broadcast technology that dramatically reduces production costs, an improved infection treatment to reduce unnecessary amputations and a wearable breathlessness therapy for COPD.

The selected third-level spins-outs will each have just three minutes to promote their innovations and business propositions to an invited online audience made up of the Irish research and investment communities and the wider start-up ecosystem.

“The interaction between investors, higher education institutes and Enterprise Ireland provides these 12 ambitious founders with an opportunity to take their businesses to the next level,” explained Enterprise Ireland CEO Leo Clancy.

“The commercialisation of companies that were born as a result of a research idea is an imperative for Enterprise Ireland and the State as their success will change our collective future for the better.

“We have a really strong mix of companies pitching today and it is great to see that 50pc of them have women founders. I wish each of them luck today.”

The next big things


Pioneering for a new treatment for overactive bladder, or OAB. OAB affects 42m men and women in the US alone. To treat OAB, guidelines recommend behavioural therapy, but many patients are prescribed medications that can have a range of serious side effects. As a solution to this, Amara Therapeutics created RiSolve, a cost-effective, comprehensive Digital Therapeutic Solution that uses video and audio content to guide patients through an 8-week intervention via their smartphone. RiSolve collects and visualizes key information which allows clinicians to make data-driven care decisions. Promoter: Emma Carr


Pioneering a solution that will revolutionize TV outside broadcasts by dramatically decreasing the production costs. Having extensive experience working in TV, CEO Donal Scannell has used his industry insight to develop a tech led solution that enables a crew of 3 to achieve what currently takes 33 by using AI and Computer Vision. Arama can do outside broadcasts for €5,000 that currently costs €40,000. Promoter: Donal Scannell


Creating a hormone-free and effective treatment of Vaginal Atrophy suitable for all women. Vaginal Atrophy (VA) is a chronic and progressive condition that impacts on a woman’s quality of life, intimate relationships and makes it uncomfortable to sit, stand, urinate or even work. There are currently 14.6m women across Europe and the US seeking treatment for VA, representing a €2.5bn market. Current treatment options are over the counter products with clinical side effects and risks and are not suitable for long term use. AVeta delivers a hormone-free, safe, affordable solution that is suitable for all women sufferers. Promoter: Paula Newell


Treating COPD with wearable breathlessness therapy. To bring innovation to the neglected space of breathlessness management in COPD, Elevre Medical has created ResWave – a first-of-its-kind wearable therapy for breathlessness. ResWave delivers localised neuromuscular stimulation to the chest wall to provide relief when patients need it most – during physical activity. With a total addressable market across US and EU estimated at €10.7bn, ResWave will be the first device on the market that can offer unobtrusive breathlessness relief to patients, making it ideally placed to seize this significant opportunity. Promoter: Miriam Savage


Improving the care of cancer patients through the development of accurate, non-invasive, urine diagnostic tests to identify aggressive cancers like Prostate cancer. Globally, 1.4 million men are diagnosed with prostate cancer and 375,000 die from the disease each year. Despite a lack of accuracy, it is estimated that 25m PSA tests are carried out in the US every year. Antoinette Perry’s ambition is that EpiCapture-prostate will run alongside the PSA test in the US and EU, where prostate cancer incidence metrics suggest the market opportunity is significantly larger than the US. Promoter: Antoinette Perry


IlluminAI has developed an AI-powered, biodynamic light-stress therapy technology to promote circadian and mental health. Disruption to our circadian rhythm can lead to poor sleep, depression, anxiety, weight gain, and many other ailments. Current Human Centric Lighting are ‘one-solution-for-all products’ for a problem that is complex and personal and are costly. The total addressable market for Human-Centric Lighting globally is € 1.03bn and illuminAi Tech has established a clear, and highly scalable, route to market. Promoter: Morteza Matkan


Luminate Medical has developed a wearable device to help cancer patients prevent chemotherapy induced hair loss. Currently, 84% of Luminate Medical’s target market purchase wigs at an average cost of $1,095 to manage chemo induced hair loss. As a solution to this, Luminate Medical has developed Lily – a wearable, portable, cap-like device which uses our proprietary compression therapy to prevent toxic chemotherapy drugs from reaching the hair follicles. Promoter: Aaron Hannon


MoveAhead tackles the ticking inactivity ‘timebomb’ by meeting children where they are (on phones, tablets etc.) and powering third-party digital experiences that ‘move’ children across digital games, play, toys, sport, and entertainment. This means MoveAhead can personalise the child’s movement experience so it’s ‘never too hard, never too easy’,  keeping children engaged, confident in their movement and developing over time. Promoter: Johann Issartel


Pioneering optical imaging technologies, such as microscopy, are essential tools for investigations in biomedical research and diagnostics and are fundamental to the understanding of disease mechanisms. PEARlabs has developed a patented Super Resolution Imaging (SRI) technology, which can overcome this dilemma. It is compact, cost-effective, and easily integrated into standard microscopy systems as a first commercial implementation. Further development of its technology will allow PEARlabs to become a sensor based high resolution imaging solution in diagnostic applications, such as endoscopy (a US$30bn market opportunity) or point-of-care “microscope-in-a-pocket” solutions and could even find its way into consumer devices. Promoter: Jürgen Osing


Stimul.ai is aiming to reduce the time patients spend on hospital waiting lists. Stimul.ai uses scenario modelling to deliver evidence-based data intelligence, which allows clinicians to keep pace with demand and to plan their day based on the requirements, resources and available capacity. Ireland’s hospital waiting list numbers reached a record approaching 1m this year, as a pre-existing problem has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Stimul.ai is positioning itself within the first 3 years to support the Irish, UK and Canadian markets with a total addressable market of €210m. Promoter: Naomh McElhatton


WRKY is a simple, powerful and cost-effective point solution that combines flexible data capture with real-time data-visualisation and data-insights so leadership can drive measurable improvements across engagement, cultural and performance initiatives for mobile and frontline workers. The pandemic has accelerated rapid change in employee relations and dramatically shifted people’s expectations of employee welfare and support. The total addressable market for People analytics is $2.49bn and WRKY is well positioned to support mobile workers with its flexible mobile and cloud-based offering. Promoter: Brian Slattery


XTremedy Medical is focusing on improving infection treatments to prevent unnecessary amputations. In 20pc of patients, an amputation is required to control the infection. XTremedy Medical has developed a surgical device that delivers electrical signals through the wound treating both the surface and below to zap any residual infection. There are over 300,000 diabetic foot ulcer procedures each year and a potential market of €600m. The Xtremedy platform technology has scope to expand into the wider chronic wounds, trauma and surgical site infection markets, with a total potential market of €2.5bn in the US. Promoter: Lyn Markey

John Kennedy
Award-winning ThinkBusiness.ie editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.