MetHealth Wins UCD 2022 Start-Up of the Year Award

Irish start-up MetHealth’s novel technology allows non-invasive detection of obesity-related diseases such as liver disease.

MetHealth, an early-stage start-up focused on transforming obesity care, has been announced as the winner of the 2022 University College Dublin (UCD) Start-Up of the Year Award. 

MetHealth, won the Award, and a €30,000 prize fund, after being declared overall winner of the 2022 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme. The annual Programme, which is run by NovaUCD, aims to support the creation and launch of sustainable and profitable new start-ups emerging from the University.

“In the EU alone some 1.2m people are dying annually due to obesity complications, including from liver disease”

The announcement took place as part of the 2022 NovaUCD Investor Day event. At this event some 27 NovaUCD client companies, which between them are seeking to raise in excess of €100 million in Seed or Series A funding, pitched to an invited audience of venture capitalists and private investors.

Clinical decision-making

MetHealth is developing a biomarker-based risk-stratification platform and associated digital health solution that can identify patients with complications of obesity, including liver disease. The platform supports clinical decision making and enhanced delivery of personalised care for individual patients.

The members of the MetHealth team are; Dr Fiona McGillicuddy, who took part in the VentureLaunch programme, and Professor Stephen Pennington, UCD School of Medicine and UCD Conway Institute, Associate Professor Catherine Mooney, UCD School of Computer Science and UCD Conway Institute, Dr Rachel Byrne, UCD School of Medicine, Dr Anna Antoniadi, UCD School of Computer Science and Aleksandra Dudzik, UCD School of Medicine.

“The global prevalence of obesity is increasing significantly,” said Dr Fiona McGillicuddy from MetHealth. “In the EU alone some 1.2m people are dying annually due to obesity complications, including from liver disease.”

“Early identification of those patients with liver inflammation is key but this currently involves painful invasive tests. We are developing a novel biomarker-based platform technology which can, using a blood sample, stratify patients with obesity who are at high risk of complications of obesity including liver disease. This non-invasive test eliminates pain for the patient, is significantly more cost effective than an invasive test, can lead to early interventions for high-risk patients and can aid clinical trial recruitment for new drugs targeting the liver.”

She added: “On behalf of the MetHealth team I am delighted to win the 2022 UCD Start-Up of the Year Award following the completion of the VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme at NovaUCD. We currently plan to spin-out of UCD at the end of 2023 when we will be seeking to raise €2 million in seed funding to set up the MetHealth laboratory and develop a market ready prototype.”

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 consisted of eight workshops delivered over a two-month period from October to November at NovaUCD. 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.

Tom Flanagan, Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, UCD said, “I would like to congratulate MetHealth, which is focused on transforming obesity care, on winning this year’s VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme. NovaUCD looks forward to working with the MetHealth team to support them to meet their global ambitions.”

 “This year’s VentureLaunch final took place as part of the NovaUCD Investor Day event during which some 27 UCD spin-in and spin-out companies pitched to members of the VC and private investor community. Between them these companies are currently seeking to raise over €100 million in funding to support them to grow and scale which is an indication of the quality and ambition of NovaUCD client companies.”

In addition to the 2022 UCD Start-up of the Year Award MetHealth receives a prize package worth €30,000, which includes a €10,000 cash prize sponsored by AMD, a professional service package sponsored by Deloitte and Bryan Maguire Financial Services and incubation space at NovaUCD.

The 2022 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme evaluation panel, which selected the overall winner following pitches by this year’s finalists, was chaired by Dr Helen McBreen, Atlantic Bridge. The other members of the panel were; William Byrne, Illumina Ventures; Brendan Farley, AMD, Samira Kaissi, Lightstone Ventures and Alan O’Connell, Seroba.

The other participants on this year’s programme in addition to MetHealth were, Cymantic Medical, Infraprint, Kapitly and LaNua. (Profiled below).

Cymantic Medical, Infraprint, LaNua and MetHealth are currently being supported through the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund.

Main image at top: Pictured at NovaUCD is Dr Fiona McGillicuddy, UCD School of Medicine and MetHealth project lead, overall winner of the 2022 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme. (Nick Bradshaw, Fotonic).

ThinkBusiness, powered by Bank of Ireland, has been created for Irish business owners and managers who are seeking information, resources and help on a range of business topics. It provides practical, actionable information and guidance on starting, growing and running a business.