Belfast firms through to all-Ireland Seedcorn final

Helen McCarthy and Darrach Neeson of Phion Therapeutics are pictured with Seedcorn project manager Connor Sweeney, left
Helen McCarthy and Darrach Neeson of Phion Therapeutics are pictured with Seedcorn project manager Connor Sweeney, left

Belfast companies Xenobics and Phion Therapeutics are set to face competition from across the Irish Republic after being named Best New Start Company and Best Early Stage Company respectively, at the Northern Ireland final of the 2017 InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Investor Readiness competition.

Both firms fought off tough competition to win a prize of €20,000 each to help finance the early stages of their ventures.

In addition, Gray’s Clip based in Lisburn won a special award of €10,000 for the Best Company who attended a support platform programme.

The winning companies from each of the four regional finals will go on to compete in the all-island final of the competition, which will take place on Wednesday 22rd November at the Crowne Plaza Northwood, Co. Dublin.

The entrepreneurs will then compete for the overall Best New Start prize or best early stage award worth €50,000 each, and ultimately the overall title worth €100,000.

Xenobics is a spinout company from the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University, enhancing food security and safety in the provision of better testing solutions.

It is now working towards the development of a multiple target diagnostic tool to be used to ensure food safety through the whole supply chain.

Phion Therapeutics was established in May this year by Prof Helen McCarthy and David Tabaczynski and is based on intellectual property developed at her lab at Queen’s.

“It is always exciting to work with companies at an early stage in their development,” said Connor Sweeney, Seedcorn project manager at InterTradeIreland.

“The initial period of development for any start-up can be daunting for any entrepreneur, however the processes and knowledge that they receive as part of the Seedcorn competition is invaluable.”