29 September 2017
By Bryan Smyth
ApisProtect, a business that helps beekeepers globally prevent losses and increase the productivity of their hives, has been named Bank of Ireland/ IGNITE Business of the Year 2017. Founder of ApisProtect, Fiona Edwards-Murphy was recognised at the annual IGNITE Awards and Showcase held in UCC’s Aula Maxima on Thursday, September 28th.
The event celebrated the achievements of the 7th cohort of Recent Graduate Entrepreneurs who participated in the 12 month business incubation programme. Ten aspiring Recent Graduate Entrepreneurs, who have just commenced the programme, were also introduced on the night.
Since 2011, IGNITE has supported over 80 entrepreneurs through the early stages of their start-up journey, and has developed support structures tailored to their specific needs. IGNITE focuses on innovative business models to ensure competiveness and scalability; validating the business model to ensure the business idea is robust enough to succeed; and developing soft personal skills needed to network, pitch, sell and survive in today’s competitive marketplace.
Top award winner ApisProtect helps commercial and amateur beekeepers, managing 81 million beehives globally who are losing up to 50% of their colonies each year by using in hive IoT enabled sensors, machine learning , and world class beekeeping knowledge to help them identify hive problems, diseases, and pests.
Two further awards were made in recognition of business planning and innovation. The EY/ IGNITE Business Plan Award went to Conor Lyden of TrustAp, a new transaction platform that acts as a safety net for consumers when they’re buying and selling online. Trustap holds the buyer’s money until the transaction has completed and subsequently financial losses to consumers are eliminated.
While the JW O’Donovan Solicitors/IGNITE Innovation Award was presented to Kaushik Shanmugam of Lacidem, for the most innovative use of technology. Lacidem is a wearable technology company that provides solutions which enable hospitals to proactively monitor post-surgery/treatment cardiac patients remotely and predict abnormalities. Kaushik came up with the idea when he lost his friend who suffered a heart attack, which motivated him to find a solution to monitor patients outside hospitals efficiently.
The awards judging panel comprised of Sean Byerley, Head of Bank of Ireland – Cork City; Rosscoe Deasy, Associate Director EY; and John Fuller, Associate Solicitor, JW O’Donovan.
Sean Byerley, Head of Bank of Ireland – Cork City, chair of the judging panel, praised the young companies, saying “The calibre of the business presentations this year was extremely high, and it’s very encouraging to see that a number of the start-ups we met are well on the road to success having already generated sales revenue or raised finance. Each of the start-ups that presented to the judging panel demonstrated true entrepreneurial spirit and steadfast determination; and each has the potential to develop a successful business.”
UCC’s 2017-2022 strategic plan, launched this week by president, Professor Patrick O’Shea includes plans to support 100 graduate-led companies through IGNITE. Commenting on this announcement, at Thursday’s event Eamon Curtin, IGNITE Programme Director said “The future is very bright for IGNITE. The objective for next year is to take on two cohorts, six months apart; a total of 20 start-ups a year. Inclusion in UCC’s strategic plan is an indication of the University’s acknowledgment of what we’re doing here, the successes we’ve had, and its commitment to supporting entrepreneurship.”
Two previous IGNITE participants also spoke at the awards – Bank of Ireland/ IGNITE Business of the Year 2013 winner, Dr Sinead Bleiel (Doherty), founder of AnaBio Technologies Ltd., a provider of encapsulation expertise, IP generation, commercial manufacture and licensing for food, pharma, animal and human health nutrition markets; and 2013 Best Business Plan Award winner Brendan Finucane of Vconnecta, who developed Ecanvasser, an innovative smartphone enabled voter relationship management tool and voxcitio, a community engagement management tool.
Other noteworthy past winners include PunditArena, a sports media website; Bitcove, an online digital currency exchange; and Allmin Resources Ireland Ltd, a chemical product development company modifying inorganic magnesium related products for specific applications.