Equal1 Labs and Zipp Mobility Founder Among Winners of NovaUCD’s 2021 Innovation Awards

Charlie Gleeson, CEO, Zipp Mobility, recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Founder of the Year Award. (Nick Bradshaw, Fotonic).

Equal1 Labs, a disruptive quantum computing hardware spin-out from University College Dublin (UCD), and Charlie Gleeson, the founder of Zipp Mobility, the micromobility start-up, are among the recipients of NovaUCD’s 2021 Innovation Awards which were announced today.

A total of 7 Awards, including the main 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Award, were revealed during a virtual event to highlight successes made in areas of knowledge transfer, consultancy, entrepreneurship and the promotion of an innovation culture, by members of the UCD research, innovation and start-up community.

Watch a short video which highlights successes and achievements of the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Awardees: https://youtu.be/_I60zhNZAO8

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact said, “I would like to congratulate all those who have received 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Awards. These Awards were established to recognise and highlight the successes being made by members of our research and innovation community across the University. I wish them all continuing success in 2021 and the years ahead as they continue to shape the future and deliver impact for the economy and society through their commercialisation, consultancy, entrepreneurial and innovation activities.”

The 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Award, which recognises excellence in innovation or of successes achieved in the commercialisation of UCD research or other intellectual activity over a number of years, was awarded to Professor Fiona Doohan, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science.

As a crop scientist Professor Doohan’s research is focused on improving the sustainability of crop production systems in Ireland and globally, and enhancing the diversification, safety and transparency of Irish food systems and she has secured over €30 million in research funding to date.

She has filed a total of 14 invention disclosures with NovaUCD in areas such as novel endophytes and their use in improving yield and suppressing diseases in crops; genes conferring resistance to fungal diseases that attack cereals; a novel enzyme used to break down lignocellulose to produce bioethanol along with a method of transforming cells to improve crop traits.

A number of these inventions have been co-developed with collaborators in Teagasc and Trinity College Dublin. Seven of these inventions have been patented and three licence agreements have been signed with industry.

Professor Fiona Doohan is also a co-founder of e-Seed Crop Technology Solutions, a joint UCD-TCD spin-out company, which is focused on developing novel endophytes that can increase crop yields.

Professor Fiona Doohan said, “I am honoured to receive the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Award. The enhanced global consumption of crop-based foods and the move within the EU and globally towards more sustainable agricultural practices mean that now, more than ever, we need innovation in crop science to ensure that the Irish agri-food sector continues to lead in the development of sustainable, traceable, quality foodstuffs.”

Professor Doohan is also a Principal Investigator on several major national and international research initiatives, including CONSUS, Food Shield and Healthy Oats and the EU project INNOVAR.

The recipients of the 2021 NovaUCD Invention of the Year Award are; Professor Patricia Maguire, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, Professor Fionnuala Ní Aínle, UCD School of Medicine and Dr Paulina Szklanna, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, for their discovery of biomarkers which can be used to diagnose preeclampsia risk.

Preeclampsia, a dangerous pregnancy complication, is difficult to diagnose and kills 50,000 mothers and 500,000 babies each year worldwide. Based on their discovery the UCD team is now developing a new diagnostic test called AI_PREMie, an AI-powered risk stratification platform, to identify women with preeclampsia and predict preeclampsia severity thus helping to save the lives of mothers and babies.

The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award is Equal1 Labs which is developing a new type of quantum computer based on the latest advances in semiconductor CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology. The company, founded by Dr Dirk Leipold, Professor R. Bogdan Staszewski and Mike Asker, is a spin-out from the UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

Professor R. Bogdan Staszewski said, “I am extremely delighted and honoured to receive the 2021 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award on behalf of the Equal1 team who are tirelessly working to realize our lofty goal of building the world’s first practical quantum computer. I still cannot believe that now we are so close to finally being able to reach our goal.”

During the last year the company, an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up, secured additional seed funding from current investor Atlantic Bridge, as well as from a new investor, 808 Ventures, a US and Australian VC, and achieved major advances in chip performance and optimisation of cooling systems to enable the minituraisation of the system hardware. In addition the company grew to a team 14 full time employees, split between NovaUCD and offices in Silicon Valley, California.

The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Consultancy of the Year Award is Professor Michael Wallace, UCD School Agriculture and Food Science, for a consultancy study entitled ‘Economic Impact Assessment of the Tillage Sector in Ireland’ commissioned by Tillage Industry Ireland through ConsultUCD.

This study, which revealed that the Irish tillage sector generates economic outputs of €1.3 billion per annum and supports 11,000 jobs, provides an evidence base to support future development planning for the Irish tillage sector, identifying the sector’s integral economic contribution to the agri-food industry specifically and the national economy more generally.

The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Founder of the Year Award is Charlie Gleeson, founder and CEO of Zipp Mobility, the micromobility start-up. During 2020 Zipp Mobility secured over €1.1 million in seed funding, including €250,000 from Enterprise Ireland, launched e-scooter operations in multiple UK locations and grew the Zipp Mobility team from 1 to 20 people across Ireland and the UK.

Charlie Gleeson, said, “It has been a great year for the Zipp team scaling across the UK. However, it was very much a team effort. I’m extremely proud of the team we’ve built and what we’ve achieved in 2020. And of course, we couldn’t have done it without the support of NovaUCD.”

The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Champion of the Year Award is Dr Paul Cuffe, UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, for his dedication to working with UCD engineering programme students, to unlock the commercial trajectory of their final year dissertation projects. In 2020 he supervised Philip Snell’s, ME Electronic and Computer Engineering thesis project to prototype a new MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controller.

The result of this project is the Joyst JV-1 MIDI controller which provides an array of gamer-style thumb joysticks to give more expressive possibilities for electronic musicians. In 2020 Philip Snell, with fellow ME engineering graduates, William Langrell and Edward Byrne and Dr Cuffe, established a UCD spin-out company, Joyst Instruments, to commercialise the JV-1 MIDI controller. The company completed a successful Kickstarter campaign in 2020 raising a total of just under €23,000 from 107 backers.

The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Licence of the Year Award is Dr Donal MacKernan, UCD School of Physics, who has developed a disruptive molecular switch platform technology. During 2020 this technology was licensed by NovaUCD to a US-based company, Fionnachtain Inc, with an initial application as a point-of-care medical diagnostic for COVID-19 and influenza.

Pictured: Charlie Gleeson, CEO, Zipp Mobility, recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Founder of the Year Award. (Nick Bradshaw, Fotonic).

Sarah Brooks

Sarah Brooks

Sarah has worked in marketing and content creation for many years. In her role at Newsgroup, she is the online editor of www.newsgroup.ie with a particular interest in local news and events. Sarah also works closely with our editorial team on our printed editions in Tallaght, Lucan, Clondalkin and Rathcoole/Saggart. If you have a story and would like to make contact please email Sarah at info@newsgroup.ie.

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