How research helped these 10 start-ups discover success

By 14th June 2016 No Comments

equineIrish research has no shortage of breakthroughs, and sometimes the hard work and toil that goes into it pays off as a commercial venture.

Looking at this selection of Irish university and research centre spin-outs, alongside other research-based ventures leveraging these institutions, it’s clear that the innovation game is a marathon, not a sprint, and some of these start-ups were up to 15 years in the making.

A solid grounding in research (and some well-protected intellectual property) can prove immensely profitable, too, as these examples of stellar success, growth and exits demonstrate.


An Irish research-based start-up is part of the reason why 2,000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold was pulled from the Epsom Derby, after a DNA test determined the distance wasn’t optimal for the horse. The surprising decision was backed by the Equinome Speed Gene Test, which was developed by University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out Equinome.

Equinome was co-founded by Dr Emmeline Hill (an equine genomics researcher in UCD) and horse trainer Jim Bolger back in 2009, with the gene test coming the following year as a way to establish optimum race distance for thoroughbred horses. Since then, more than 20 scientific publications, including studies by separate independent international research groups in the US, Italy and Japan, have added to this study and investigated the effectiveness of the gene test in other horse breeds.

Equine nutrition company Plusvital acquired Equinome in 2015, and has been tapping into the university spin-out’s advanced testing capabilities ever since, having developed novel equine genetic tests, innovative nutraceuticals and other equine performance and health products.

Plusvital now expects to employ 50 people here in Ireland over the next five years while making an investment of over €3.5m in equine science research over the next three years.


In 2014, Irish start-up FeedHenry made headlines with its impressive €63.5m sale to US firm Red Hat. Founded in 2009, FeedHenry originated at TSSG, the research centre based at Waterford Institute of Technology, focused on telecommunications software and applied research.

FeedHenry was founded by TSSG CEO Barry Downes, and the mobile app development platform leverages significant research knowledge developed through a number of European Commission R&D programmes focused on next-generation service architectures, platforms and services.

FeedHenry’s cloud computing enterprise mobility platform is built to provide fast, secure and scalable deployment of sophisticated business apps across all smartphones and web devices. TSSG collaborated with FeedHenry to launch their developer portal, which enables developers to build an app once using open technologies such as HTML 5 and JavaScript, deploy the app into the FeedHenry cloud and run it on any device.

With branches in Dublin, England and the US, FeedHenry established itself as a global player, and its commercial success has paved the way for more successful and profitable TSSG spin-outs, such as NearForm

To Read this piece in full please visit Siliconrepublic.com Written and published by Elaine Burke, Managing Director, Siliconrepublic.com

Racehorse image via ppart/Shutterstock