Two new start-up companies from NUI Galway have been announced as winners of funding from Enterprise Ireland via its Competitive Feasibility Fund. Westway Health Ltd. is developing antimicrobial products for the dairy sector, while Aquila Bioscience Ltd. is developing its own therapeutic products in the human and veterinary space. Funding of €25,000 for each company will help develop their ideas into sustainable businesses focused on export.
The funding announcement was made recently by The Minister for Small Business John Perry, TD. The fund, totalling €200,000, was launched to offer funding to develop new companies and to increase job creation in the West region (Galway, Mayo and Roscommon). They represent just two of the many spin-off companies supported by the University’s Ignite Technology Transfer Office (TTO). Speaking on the announcement of the award, Dr Jacinta Thornton, Acting Director of TTO said “We at Ignite Technology Transfer Office are committed to working with, and supporting the creation of, new start-up companies, and look forward to working with inventors and entrepreneurs to create future successes.”
Westway Health is a start-up company founded by Prof Vincent O’Flaherty from NUI Galway’s School of Natural Sciences. The company aims to develop and commercialise an innovative antimicrobial technology developed within NUI Galway. Their lead product in development is PanaMastTM LC, a disruptive product for the treatment of mastitis in lactating cows, with a further product, PanaMastTM DC, for treatment of dry cows in the company product pipeline, collectively a billion-euro market.
Speaking about Westway Health’s prospects, Professor O’Flaherty said “PanaMastTM LC has the potential to become the world’s first treatment for mastitis which will have a zero withdrawal, meaning farmers can sell milk during and following treatment.” He added “Feedback from farmers who have trialed the product to date has been very strong in support in terms of its effectiveness in treating mastitis, its potential zero withdrawal properties and its use as a prophylactic. We are extremely happy to have won this award, seeing this as validation of our business model by the judging panel of experts. We are grateful to Enterprise Ireland who have supported and funded the research leading to the creation of the company, but also in awarding us this money which will help to grow and develop the company.”
The company is planning to hire five highly skilled research and development staff this year, and expecting to grow to eleven staff by 2015. Large-scale formal clinical trials are planned for 2014, with eventual regulatory approval and sale of product in 2016. The company is currently seeking funding partners to support this final phase of commercialization.
Aquila Bioscience is a start-up company co-founded by Professor Afshin Samali and Professor Lokesh Joshi. Through its innovative and unique combination of technologies, AquilaBio is committed to combining two key areas of glycoscience and cell stress to deliver novel solutions to improve human health and veterinary medicine.
AquilaBio aims to develop its own therapeutic products in the human and veterinary space, but also to provide glycoscience expertise to a range of indigenous and multinational companies, particularly those in the manufacture of biologic products.
Co-founder Prof Samali said “Ireland is a leading global player in the manufacture of biologics, with 9 of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies having manufacturing facilities in Ireland creating over 25,000 high-skilled jobs. AquilaBio is ideally placed to assist the biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, both in Ireland and internationally, in biomanufacturing process analysis and quality control by providing services and expertise in glycoprofiling both cells used in batch fermentation and their protein products. We would like to thank Enterprise Ireland in awarding us this money as it will help us develop and expand our business in the coming year.” The company hopes to begin recruitment of R&D staff within the coming months.