Business

Northern Ireland start-ups compete to be named most innovative

Launching the 2016 InterTradeIreland Seedcorn competition which offers a financial lifeline and business advice to new start or early stage companies and which has an overall prize fund of €280,000 is Connor Sweeney of InterTradeIreland and 2015 winner Kieran Normoyle, Founder of Ocean Survivor.

FROM a company developing intelligent machines to a clinical data platform and a healthy drinks firm - six firms will this week battle to be named the north's most innovative start-up.

The form the regional finalists for a a major cross-border business competition organised by InterTradeIreland.

The Seedcorn Investor Readiness Business Competition offers a total prize fund of €280,000 (£249,000) and seeks to find the best up-and-coming firms in Ireland.

Two of the finalists from the north will secure €20,000 (£17,800) before progressing to the grand final - to be held in Belfast this year - to compete against other regional winners.

The grand final will take place at the Waterfront later this month while all all Northern Ireland finalists hail from Belfast this year.

The competition is considered a lifeline for new companies seeking to raise equity to help their business to grow and develop.

With regional winners set to be announced later this week, the Irish News took a closer look at the north's six finalists.

The new start category features three companies including Panacea Drinks which produces kefir-based drinks, containing billions of naturally occuring friendly bacteria.

The firm was set up last year by wife and mum Kelly Neill and has a production facility in London with products sold across 30 independent retailers in Ireland.

She'll be up against Proana which makes low pressure, water mist, fire suppression systems.

The company founded by Richard Finlay and Sinead Devlin in 2013 sells products for use in industrial and commercial catering kitchens across Britain Ireland and the Middle East.

The third finalist in the category, Yedup, is a leader in 'adaptive' artificial intelligence.

The company, co-founded by Dr Martin Spollen, has developed machines that, like humans, learn continuously in real time. This allows Yedup's technology to analyse big data streams - such as live and evolving social media content - faster and more accurately than is possible with standard artificial intelligence techniques.

A second category aims to recognised early stage companies.

Finalists include Clinishare, which has developed a patient information portal and clinical data platform for use by laboratories, hospitals and healthcare providers and was officially incorporated in 2015.

Targeting mainly privatised healthcare markets, the company has been focusing on the UEA, SE Asia and Brazil with plans to expand into the USA in 2017.

It will compete against Liopa, a spin-out from Queen's University, Belfast which is a leading independent provider of biometric authentication and verification technology.

The company, headed by Liam McQuillan has a particular focus on the fusion of speech and lip movements for robust speech/speaker recognition in real world environments.

Finally, TakeTen, established in 2011 by Fintan Connolly, uses technology to improve emotional resilience in children and young people.

TakeTen has developed a heart rate variability biofeedback App which allows users to regulate and manage their physiology and emotions.

Games on the App respond to the child, only continuing when the child is physiologically and emotionally calm.

The grand final will take place at the Waterfront, Belfast on November 23.

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