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Professor Louise Kenny wins Enterprise Ireland Life Sciences & Food Commercialisation Award

30 Sep 2013

Professor Louise Kenny has won the Enterprise Ireland Life Sciences & Food Commercialisation Award for developing and commercialising the first predictive diagnosis for pre-eclampsia in early pregnancy.

Louise is Director of the Irish Centre for Fetal and Neonatal Translational Research (Infant), Professor of Obstetrics at UCC and a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at CorkUniversityMaternityHospital.  INFANT is funded by Science Foundation Ireland and located at CorkUniversityMaternityHospital.

Pre-eclampsia is a very common condition affecting 5% of first time mothers. Currently, 70-80,000 mothers and over 500,000 infant deaths are attributed to pre-eclampsia each year and it is responsible for occupancy of approximately 20% of neonatal intensive care unit cots. If ‘at risk’ first time mothers could be identified in early pregnancy, steps could be taken to prevent almost a third of cases.

Professor Kenny received the award at the Enterprise Ireland Big Ideas Technology Showcase which took place in Dublin on Wednesday (25th September 2013).

Presenting Professor Kenny with her award, Seán Sherlock T.D Minister for Research & Innovation said; “Professor Kenny has accomplished a huge amount in her career to date so it is very fitting that this award from EnterpriseIreland recognises her contribution to society and the economy. Through the commercialisation of this technology Louise and her team will help women and their babies, deliver cost savings to hospitals and create employment”.

Gearóid Mooney, Manager of Research & Innovation at EnterpriseIreland congratulated Professor Kenny on her achievement and explained why she was selected for the award.

“Over the course of her career Professor Kenny could see the problems caused by being unable to predict which women would develop pre-eclampsia in pregnancy. So she decided to do something about it and using public funding provided by Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board, she and her research team developed the world’s first predictive diagnostic blood test for pre-eclampsia”.

“With the help of EnterpriseIreland the test was put through a technical evaluation and brought to the point where it was ‘investor ready’.  EnterpriseIreland, working with UCC’s technology transfer office, introduced Professor Kenny to a business partner, Charles Garvey and helped them to establish a new company called Metabolomics Diagnostics Ltd.” said Mooney.

Charles Garvey is now the CEO of the company which is an Enterprise Ireland high potential start-up with plans to create up to 40 new jobs.

Congratulating his colleague on her award, Mr. Garvey said; “Louise’s technology represents a game changing opportunity for perinatal care.  I am looking forward to working with her to bring the test to the market to allow its full potential to be realised”.  

Minister Sherlock also presented Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Awards to Tony O’Dowd and Dr. Mark Southern.

Tony O’Dowd received the Enterprise Ireland ICT Commercialisation award for licensing a piece of research generated at the Centre for Next Generation Localisation (CNGL) at DublinCityUniversity, to form a start-up company called Xcelerator Machine Translations Ltd. The company currently has 14 full time employees and is growing a substantial client base with an innovative cloud based machine translation services. The company’s premier product is now marketed as “KantanMT”

Dr. Mark Southern received the Enterprise Ireland Manufacturing, Engineering & Energy Commercialisation Award in recognition of his outstanding record in raising the core productivity of Irish manufacturers – thus enabling them to go further in their new product development, sales and exports. Dr. Southern’s team at the University of Limerick helps companies by matching their technical issues and challenges to state-of-the-art solutions in manufacturing measurement, simulation, software and statistical know how.

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