Winner Announced in the Ireland Funds’ 5th Annual Business Plan Competition

business plan competition

By Kamila Cholko on June 23, 2016 in Blueface, Business, Events

On Wednesday, 22nd of June, The Ireland Funds Business Plan Competition took place, generously hosted by Google. The Ireland Funds have a long history of supporting excellence and addressing need in Ireland. The Business Plan Competition was run for the 5th time. It aims to nurture creativity and hone entrepreneurial skills among recent graduates and post-graduate students.

Participants have a chance to win the top prize of €10,000, with first and second runners-up receiving prizes of €5,000 and €1,000 respectively. The Business Plan Competition has been generously funded by American Ireland Fund Board Director Bill McKiernan of WSM Capital LLC since it was founded in 2012 and today is also supported through generous donations from Angela Moore and Harry Hartford.

In 2016 the competition received 53 applications. Of these applications, 14 teams were selected for the semi-final which was kindly hosted by Davy Group on 7th June. In preparation for the semi-final each team was invited to take part in a pitching bootcamp hosted by Cilian Fennell of Stillwater Communications. From the 14 semi-finalists, 6 teams were selected for the final.

The winner


Sothic Bioscience – University College Cork

The pharmaceutical and medtech regulated industries rely on strict Quality (including pyrogen) testing. Testing using a reagent called L.A.L. (limulus amoebosyte lysate), derived from the blood of the Horseshoe Crab, is the backbone of pyrogen testing globally. The growth in pyrogen testing demand provides both a threat to the Horseshoe Crab population disruption to the supply chain. The Atlantic Horseshoe Crab is on the conservation Red List, they cannot support the growth indemand for L.A.L.

Sothic’s flagship product, LimuleXTM, is a “bioidentical” L.A.L. reagent capable of replacing naturally sourced L.A.L. across the global pyrogen testing industry. Their reagents are produced using a novel bio-manufacturing platform developed in-house.

The runner ups:


2nd place – GlowDx – University College Cork

GlowDx is a diagnostics company that employs novel molecular science to provide developing countries with high quality diagnostic tests; focusing on neglected tropical diseases. GlowDx provides comprehensive solutions for the diagnosis of infectious disease by utilising nucleic acid detection through isothermal amplification. This allows for detection in the early stages of disease.

3rd place – UniTuition – Trinity College Dublin

UniTuition provides university 1,500 students with an online marketplace for high quality academic support. UniTuition partners with student unions to digitally connect university communities, matching students with tutors who have completed and excelled in the specific course they are struggling in.


Other Finalists

Em-Bed – Queen’s University Belfast

The vision of Em-Bed is to be a refuge unfolding relief, aid and hope in natural disaster. The Em-Bed (emergency bed) is made entirely of cardboard, inside packed with canned food and health supplies that can be shipped out to victims of natural disasters as temporary aid. The bed, which folds in two for shipping, opens out to provide a bed firstly, but also access to storage for food and emergency supplies such as mosquito nets.

DropChef – Dublin City University

DropChef is a subscription based business with customers paying a weekly subscription for which they receive three nutritionally balanced dinners for two people, pre-portioned to save time and reduce waste. DropChef’s Our Cook-One-Feed-One program is at the heart of their idea. For every meal cooked with DropChef, they’ll donate one meal to a child in need.

WaterWatch Technologies Limited (AgriFlow) – Institute of Technology Sligo

Waterwatch Technologies Limited is a clean-tech company formed in August 2015 to exploit an identified gap in market around ICT for water resource management. WaterWatch is developing a number of Internet of Things (IOT) connected products within the domestic, agricultural, hospitality and commercial sectors.
Agriflow is a whole farm solution that detects, notifies and prevents water leaks caused by faulty fittings/connections and burst water supply lines. Agriflow can detect and notify the farmer of leaks and automatically shut off the water supply to the area where the problem has arisen.

Judging panel



Angela Moore, Virginia – Chair of the Judging Panel

Managing Partner of Ravensdale Capital Ravensdale Capital is an investment platform created to provide angel and venture capital investments in startup and early stage technology businesses in the US.
Angela is the Managing Director of Macha Capital Partners, a private investment fund focused on making investments in small, growth-orientated business in Ireland, with a special focus on women-led initiatives, investing in businesses beyond seed stage in a broad range of sectors including manufacturing, technology and tradable services.

Angela serves on the boards of several organisations, including: The American Ireland Fund; UCD Smurfit School Advisory Board; Women in Business NI and the North American Economic Development Board for the First & Deputy First Ministers of NI.

Barbara Diehl, Dublin – Executive Director at the Innovation Academy UCD

Barbara’s extensive experience in entrepreneurship and innovation is based on over 10 years of working in various knowledge transfer settings, seven of which alone in the field of entrepreneurship and venture creation at the University of Oxford’s Entrepreneurship Centre (2008-2015).

Prior to joining Oxford she worked for the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, a science & innovation policy related think-tank in Berlin. From 2004-2006 she managed ESOF2006 in Munich, Europe’s biggest “Science in Society” Forum, which attracted over 50,000 attendees to its outreach programme

Ronan Foley, Dublin – Chairman of The Ireland Funds in Ireland

Ronan is Chairman of The Ireland Funds in Ireland and previously CEO of IPB Insurance. He joined IPB as Chief Executive in 2011. During his leadership at IPB, the company recorded its best financial results in its history over the past three decades. Ronan has been named as one of Ireland’s top 100 CEOs and listed as a Global 100 Irish CEO for 2014 by Business & Finance. Ronan joined the board of The Ireland Funds in 2012 and was appointed Chairman in January 2015.

Alan Foy, Dublin – Chief Executive of Blueface & Board Director of The Ireland Funds

Blueface is a rapidly growing IP and mobile telecoms business with offices in Ireland, Italy and the UK. Blueface provides a full suite of
hosted cloud pbx
solutions and services to consumers, SME’s and carriers and was recently ranked as the 16th fastest growing technology company by Deloitte.

Alan previously worked with NCB Group in the Wealth management area of the firm and with Coyle Hamilton (now Wilis) in the area of business transformation. Alan is a board member of The Ireland Funds and Chairman of the Young Leaders Committee.

Brian Long, California – Managing Partner of Atlantic Bridge Ventures

Brian Long is founder and Managing Partner of Atlantic Bridge Ventures. His active investments and board seats include Movidius Inc, Blue Data Inc, Hedvig Inc, 3D Robotics Inc, Swrve Inc,
Boxfish Inc, Lion Semiconductor, GBox Inc, Nod Labs, Navitas Semiconductor, and Highlight Semiconductor.

Brian was founder and CEO of Parthus-CEVA technologies 1993 – 2003 which he took public (IPO) on Nasdaq and London Stock Markets (Nasdaq: CEVX).

He was founder and Chairman of GloNav Inc which developed the first single chip GPS solutions used on Galaxy mobile phones (Acquired by NXP).

Will McMahon, London – Associate with Highland Capital Europe

Will is an Associate with Highland Capital Europe focused on identifying, evaluating and executing growth stage technology investments.

Prior to joining Highland, Will spent two years at J.P. Morgan Cazenove, within the UK Technology, Media and Telecoms M&A team, as well as the UK Corporate Finance team. While at J.P. Morgan, he was involved in several transactions, including the IPO of Just Eat and the acquisition of Stansted Airport by IFM and the Manchester Airports Group.

Neil O’Herlihy, Dublin – Director of Strategy and Sales Operations for Google

Before joining Google in 2008, Neil worked as Head of Strategy for Mercer’s benefits outsourcing business in Europe. Prior to that he was a strategy consultant for Prospectus Strategy Consultants and then Digital Channel Partners. He started his career implementing banking software in countries such as Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Hong Kong.

We wish best of luck in implementing the business plans to all of the finalists!


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