Twelve fledgling companies have today taken their first steps to turning their unique and innovative ideas into successful global businesses, after making it to the prestigious finals of the Northern Ireland Science Park CONNECT INVENT 2014 competition.
Twenty four companies, which included research institutions, private sector firms and even a school student, took part in the dynamic 'Quick Pitch' event in W5 in Belfast last week, sponsored by Bank of Ireland.
The shortlisted 24 pitched to an audience of over 200 guests and judges which included the prominent Professor of Computer Technology and Head of the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, Andy Hopper, and founder of international medical company TG Eakin which exports to more than 30 countries worldwide, Tom Eakin.
With only three minutes in the spotlight, competition was fierce and the judges had the unenviable task of choosing the twelve ideas they saw as having the greatest commercial potential.
The INVENT 2014 Top 12 are:
- Inlifesize - Deep Paper: A next-generation digital comic platform that embraces all aspects of digital technology
- Write to Read: A mobile application proven to improve the comprehension and retention of words a person with dyslexia reads
- Green Sword: Microbial solutions which can be used to clean oil contaminations Cool
- Safe360: A 20W 360 degree super-bright, long life LED bulb
- Photonic Measurements: A chemical analyser using a combination of novel techniques allowing for a wide range of measurements
- See.Sense: A lower cost cycling Power Meter using their own patent sensor technology
- PlotBox: A cloud platform for cemeteries and crematoria that manages all their operations in the one place
- Sixty5: Farming apps to guide, control or assist agricultural field operations
- WiFiEAR: A new form of “induction loop” system to help the hearing impaired to improve hearing experience by using WiFi connections
- Vaccine Tabs QUB: A novel nasal vaccine delivery system
- Senshoe: The first deformable composite horseshoe integrating sensing technology
- Microbial Nematicides: A new method of protecting crop plants from damaging pests by delivering safe pesticides into the soil from terrestrial microorganisms
The Top 12 will now embark on a unique and invaluable six month programme which will see their ideas challenged and refined in order to turn their innovation into a successful commercial reality.
The winners of all six categories will win a slice of a £33,000 prize fund and take part in Northern Ireland’s most exciting tech mission this year- a week-long visit to San Diego and San Francisco, home to many of the world’s top business clusters in biotechnology, wireless communications, biofuels and sports technology.
San Diego is also the location for the elite fighter pilot academy on which the movie Top Gun was based.
NISP CONNECT Programme Manager, Peter Edgar said: 'This essentially is the birth of 12 new companies which yesterday were only ideas for solutions to an everyday problem, and today are on the start of a journey which will see them finish with a viable business plan, and access to the best entrepreneurial and sci-tech advice and networks in Northern Ireland, not to mention securing themselves a ticket to the 'Top Gun Academy' for innovators in San Diego, and Silicon Valley.
'The category winners will benefit enormously from visiting the world’s most influential people in their fields, and it is not implausible to think that many of them could match that success with their own innovations in the future.
'Last night demonstrated to us, and the judges remarked, that currently the most exciting prototype technologies are emerging from Northern Ireland.'
92 entries were was put forward to this year’s search demonstrating the sheer wealth of inventive and creative talent in the province.
One of the judges, Julie Ann O’Hare, Director Business Banking at Bank of Ireland UK, said: 'Bank of Ireland UK is delighted with the quality of entrants and level of interest in this year’s Quick Pitch. We are seeing a range of positive economic indicators from activity on the ground to the messages captured in recent surveys on business sentiment.
'INVENT 2014 is another reason for us to be optimistic for the future. Innovation is alive and well in Northern Ireland. We have an abundance of local talent, ambition and inventors ready to springboard their ideas into commercial reality.
'This programme is unique as it aims to harness this talent and support the creation of jobs and industries of the future and we are delighted to be part of this programme.'
The Top 12 will pitch their final business plans to a panel of experts in September and the category winners and overall winner will be announced at a gala Awards showcase in front of 600 people at the iconic Titanic Belfast on 2nd October 2014.
For more information on INVENT, visit www.invent2014.co.