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Sprinting forward

Jane Haynes speaks to four UCC researchers who are on the path to spinning out their projects from the lab to the market and poised to bring local solutions to global issues across healthcare and sustainability.

11 Nov 2021

University College Cork has always been a destination for change-makers and independent thinkers. Over 170 years ago, George Boole – founder of Boolean code, and often referred to as “the father of the digital age” – took up residence at UCC (then Queen’s College Cork) as the first Professor of Mathematics.

That tradition of discovery and endeavour to change the world has lived on in all corners of the university, thriving today through our research community, in particular.

At a time where solutions to global issues in the realms of healthcare and the environment are so urgently sought, it has never been so important to guide and support our researchers and nurture their discoveries, so that they can be taken from lab to market and applied as real-world solutions.

Back row, L-R: Dr Ciaran Lee and Dr Ken Nally. Front row, L-R: Myriam Cronin, Head of GatewayUCC's SPRINT Accelerator Programme; Dr Eric Moore; Dr Linda O'Higgins

At UCC, the SPRINT Accelerator Programme is playing a crucial role in this process. Falling under the umbrella of UCC Innovation via Gateway UCC, SPRINT is designed as a support to help researchers think commercially about their research output and start businesses that take the technology from the lab to the customer, where it can create real impact.

“SPRINT is a great opportunity for researchers to look at their technology and explore its commercial opportunity in a safe environment, and get the skillset and networks to help them achieve their tech start-up ambitions,” says Myriam Cronin, Head of the SPRINT programme.

SPRINT has supported many successful spinouts using technology developed in UCC, particularly from the realms of healthcare, medtech and sustainability. Varadis, Mirai Medical, Seqbiome, Ribomaps and BioPixS are among the many companies that have come through the programme and gone on to raise more than €10 million in seed funding and creating employment in the process.

Here, we speak to four researchers who have been through the SPRINT Accelerator Programme, and who are all on their way to commercialisation and making real-world impact in the realms of health and sustainability.


Dr Eric Moore – Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemistry at UCC, and Academic Member within the Life Science Interface group at Tyndall National Institute – discusses the SMARTProbe Project, which will enable radiologists to make real-time informative decisions during biopsy about breast disease management.


Dr Ken Nally and Dr Ciaran Lee of the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre, APC Microbiome Ireland, discuss their research into immunobiotics and how they could improve our health.


Dr Linda O’Higgins – Principal Investigator in Marine Microbiology and Biotechnology at the Environmental Research Institute at UCC – discusses SyM03, a research project which is using LED light technology to boost yields of fish oils.


If you are interested in hearing more about SPRINT early-stage developments or would like to contribute as a mentor, advisory board member, team member or supporter of the emerging start-ups from UCC, please contact Myriam Cronin, Head of the SPRINT programme,

Photography: Diane Cusack

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