UCC IGNITE’s Ones to Watch in 2021

With applications now open for the 15th UCC IGNITE programme, we look at the most recent alumni of entrepreneurs and their start-ups to graduate from the programme.

UCC’s IGNITE has a proven track record in sparking successful early-stage companies and is looking for a new cohort of founders it wants to make investor-ready within 12 months.

Applications are now open for the 15th IGNITE programme and the accelerator inviting recent graduates with business ideas to apply.

The programme is open to graduates in any discipline from any third level institution in Ireland and the application deadline is 19 February. The programme will get underway in April.

Founded in 2011 and supported by Bank of Ireland, IGNITE is a joint initiative by University College Cork, Cork City Council, Cork County Council and the Local Enterprise Offices of Cork City and County. In the past 10 years IGNITE has supported multiple cohorts with hundreds of individuals with start-up ideas.

To get a sense of the calibre of start-ups to emerge from the programme, here are 10 UCC IGNITE alumni to watch in 2021:


Young man in navy shirt.

Founder William Nolan

Addaptiv Ltd. is establishing an Industry 4.0 design and manufacturing centre for customers, who can realise the benefits from Additive Manufacturing. The business develops new products, designed to be manufactured using advanced materials in both plastic and metal, with 3D printing. The company has global aspirations to help Ireland grow its reputation abroad as a high-quality, cost-effective location for additive manufacturing, as well as helping Irish businesses localise their supply chain. The company was founded by University of Limerick manufacturing and operations engineering graduate, William Nolan, who also has years of experience with this technology in the manufacturing industry.

Base Vault

Young man in black blazer.

Founder Niall Crowley

Basevault is a modular capital markets platform that makes it easier for companies, such as wealth management firms, brokers, and banks, to automate internal processes and deliver new experiences to clients. Basevault is reducing the cost and complexity of implementing high-performance technology so firms can focus on providing the services their clients want and expect. Founder, Niall Crowley, has a BSc in financial mathematics and actuarial science from University College Cork and spent several years working as a capital markets technology consultant for various banks throughout Europe and Africa.

Da Silly Heads

Two young men in woolly hats.

Founders Daniel O’Mahony and Michal Sikora

Da Silly Heads is a forward-thinking social enterprise, aiming to create communities of mental health advocates. The company is doing this through a blend of advocacy apparel and visual mental health advocacy workshops in which their animated cartoon characters, Da Silly Heads, help deliver the core message that STIGMA IS SILLY! The characters represent different mental health conditions and are a vehicle to externalize struggles with life’s ambitions. Da Silly Heads was founded by Cork Institute of Technology/Munster Technological University Business Graduates Daniel O’Mahony & Michal Sikora in 2018.

Pair Share

Fair haired young woman in business suit.

Founder Mafalda Hruskova

Pair Share is a social app that allows micro-influencers and content creators to connect, collaborate and grow. Pair Share’s subscribers can find each other through filters such as location, category, followers and then collaborate to grow their audience. 

Founder Mafalda Hruskova, identified the need through her own experience of the difficulty of finding other content creators or influencers with which to collaborate.

She has a BA (Criminology) from University College Cork.

Pit Seal

Young woman with brown hair.

Founder Marion Cantillon

Farmers are facing mounting challenges with tighter environmental controls and limits. One of the main winter feeds for their cattle is silage. Pitseal is developing a spray on edible biofilm that forms an air and watertight matrix on the grass eliminating the traditional use of plastic and tyres to seal pits. Pitseal’s biofilm can be consumed by the ruminant with the additional benefit of reducing Methane (GHG) emissions by up to 70pc. This saves the farmer time and helps the government meet its Carbon Neutral goal without having to cull the national herd.  Founder, Marion Cantillon, is a graduate of BSc Food Marketing and Entrepreneurship and is studying for her Masters Degree in Nutrition researching biofilm technologies at University College Cork. Website:


Fair haired young man with a beard.

Founder Patrick O’Regan

ReachTheTop is a data driven software that streamlines how athletes are recruited to the National Collegiate Athletic Association sporting programs. ReachTheTop was founded by BA graduate Patrick O’Regan and helps colleges reduce the cost associated with the recruitment of athletes by eliminating the need to travel extensively. The product serves a two sided customer model, connecting colleges directly to a global talent pool of pre-screened and objectively ranked athletes while empowering athletes to take control of their own scholarship journey by giving them direct access to gain exposure to colleges.


Smiling dark-haired woman.

Founder Ali-Rose Sisk

SafeCare is a nursing management software that is transforming the care-home sector through digitalisation. Using a unique SafeCare algorithm, SafeCare automates the audit task and transforms paper checklists to power tools that safeguard both the patient and nurse. Safecare’s mission is to reduce documentation time and care home costs, whilst increasing patient contact time and care quality. Founder, Ali-Rose Sisk, is a practicing nurse with over 10 years healthcare experience.  Ali-Rose is a University College Cork graduate with a BSc (Nursing) in 2017 and a MSc (Medicine and Health) in 2019, and is a year from completing her Marie Curie PhD at University College London.


Young woman in black jumper.

Founder Clare Meskill

Teleatherapy is developing a medical platform to connect patients with Parkinson’s disease and their clinicians. Early intervention and a holistic approach are essential for this cohort of patients, which are difficult to access in strained healthcare systems. Teleatherapy aims to bridge this gap by providing remote early intervention for patients’ Speech and Language Therapy, Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy.  Early intervention enables patients to have their quality of life maintained for as long as possible and assists to reduce overall healthcare costs. Founder, Clare Meskill, is a practicing Speech and Language Therapist, and is completing her MSc (Medicine and Health) at University College Cork.


Two young men in a university building.

Founders Conor Walsh and Luke O’Mahony 

Traxsit provides innovative asset recovery and management solutions for the construction and civil engineering, plant hire, food distribution and agriculture sectors. The company’s solutions utilise the latest technology to provide a tracking and management system with advantages over existing solutions.  Traxsit founders Luke O’Mahony and Conor Walsh are building a significant portfolio of clients across a range of industry sectors. Luke has a BSc (Accounting) from University College Cork and Conor has a BEng (Electronics) from Cork Institute of Technology/Munster Technological University.


Man in blue shirt.

Founder James Northridge

UrAbility is reinventing the way parents and educators support children with disabilities, enhancing the learning experience with an online training and support model. UrAbility’s online platform uses algorithms to auto assign online courses and advise on assistive technologies based on users’ technical abilities, spoken language, and location. Founder, James Northridge is passionate about helping students learn and thrive, whatever their abilities and goals. His personal struggles with dyslexia and ADHD drove him to empower others facing similar challenges and he aims to improve the educational experiences of over one million families. James graduated with a MSc in Rehabilitation & Disability Studies from University College Dublin in 2014, before completing a Marie Curie Fellowship at UMASS Medical school in Boston in 2016. 

Published: 12 February 2021