EpiCapture named UCD’s 2020 Start-up of the Year

EpiCapture won the Award, and a €32,000 prize fund, after being declared overall winner of the 2020 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme.

EpiCapture, creators of a novel urine DNA test for detecting prostate cancer has won the 2020 UCD Start-up of the Year Award.

The EpiCapture test measures six epigenetic biomarkers which are indicative of aggressive disease, using a widely available PCR platform.

“EpiCapture could have a significant societal and economic impact by eliminating unnecessary, costly and invasive procedures”

EpiCapture’s technology has potential as a non-invasive, early-detection and screening test to augment the current PSA blood test for the early-detection of aggressive prostate cancer. A second application is as a repeated use monitoring tool for men with low-grade disease, to identify tumour progression.

Potential societal impact

The members of the EpiCapture team, a start-up emerging from the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science are, Dr Antoinette Perry, Asia Jordan, Adele Connor and Ross Nelson, along with Edward Simons, a chartered accountant and former investment banker.

“By selectively detecting aggressive prostate cancer disease, EpiCapture informs on the need to biopsy and thus could have a significant societal and economic impact by eliminating unnecessary, costly and invasive procedures for the majority of men with the disease,” explained Dr Antoinette Perry.

“EpiCapture performance thus far looks really promising. We’re currently at the stage of validating the results in an independent cohort, and we anticipate results by mid next year.”

The main objective of the UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme is to equip participants with the knowledge, skills and understanding that will be required to work as part of a team leading a new commercial venture. On completion of the programme the expectation is that participating new ventures will have developed a commercially viable business plan.

The programme consists of eight workshops delivered over a two-month period from October to November. The Business Model Canvas approach to start-up development forms the basis of the programme with each session consisting of a mix of taught content and interactive workshops delivered by external experts as well as involving talks from entrepreneurs. Participants also gain expert mentoring on marketing, finance and funding, sales and pitching to investors.

“It is great to be able to support our UCD research community to accelerate the creation of exciting new start-ups through our VentureLaunch programme, which of course was held online this year,” said Tom Flanagan, director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, NovaUCD.

“I would like to congratulate the epiCaPture team on winning this year’s programme and I wish them, and all the programme participants, every commercial success, here in Ireland and internationally, in the years ahead.”

Ones to watch

Other participants on the 2020 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme, include:

AquaB Nanobubble Innovations Ltd

AquaB Nanobubble Innovations Ltd is commercialising a breakthrough technology to generate nanobubbles of different gases in aqueous solution. This technology has multiple commercial applications in a wide range of sectors including wastewater treatment, gas storage, food, biopharma, brewing, disinfection, agriculture and food. The company was founded by Professor Niall English and Dr Mohammad Reza Ghaani as a spin-out from the UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering

Joyst Instruments Ltd

Joyst Instruments Ltd is changing how music is made. Joyst’s instruments unleash new creative possibilities by deploying precision analogue joysticks for note activation, allowing unprecedented pitch-bending and note articulation effects. With easy-to-learn note layouts, Joyst is putting unlimited expressive potential in the hands of all musicians. The founders of Joyst are, Philip Snell, William Langrell and Edward Byrne, who have just graduated from UCD ME programmes, and Dr Paul Cuffe, UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.


Recyslabs is developing artificial intelligence (AI) technology to connect readers to personalized content that is worth paying for. recsyslabs’ technology provides publishers with an alternative revenue stream and allows them to automatically identify readers’ segments, based on their interests, and generates one newsletter, with different articles or different order per segment. The members of the recsyslabs team are, Dr Ernesto Diaz-Aviles, Dr Claudia Orellana-Rodriguez and Dr Igor Brigadir, UCD School of Computer Science.


SeamlessCARE is developing four application programming interfaces (APIs) to improve life for people with intellectual disability, dementia and a range of complex needs. The applications are built on the HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) framework to ensure interoperability and regulatory compliance. They promote safety, enhance communications, increase efficiency and improve the delivery of care. The seamlessCARE team includes, Dr Aviva Cohen, UCD School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Ian Kennedy and Dr Çağrı Çubukçu.

By John Kennedy (john.kennedy3@boi.com)

Published: 2 December, 2020