Belfast start-up Phion Therapeutics wins all-Ireland Seedcorn award

InterTradeIreland chairm Ken Nelson with Phion Therapeutics Prof Helen McCarthy and Darrach Neeson
InterTradeIreland chairm Ken Nelson with Phion Therapeutics Prof Helen McCarthy and Darrach Neeson

Belfast-based tech start-up Phion Therapeutics has been crowned the overall winner of the 2017 InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition, winning a cash prize of €100,000.

The pharma sector firm took honours alongside the other main winner Cerebreon Technologies from Donegal, which was named Best New Start Company, winning a cash prize of €50,000.

The winners were announced at the grand final of the competition in Dublin.

Now in its 15th year, Seedcorn is the island’s biggest business competition for new start and early stage companies in any sector, from any part of the island.

With more than 275 competition entries, the winners went up against companies in a range of sectors including medical devices, technology, fintech, design engineering, diagnostics and even digital ticket sales.

This year’s competition saw an unprecedented number of submissions from female entrepreneurs, with five women among the regional winners going forward to the national final.

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

The firm carries out contract research and licenses the use of its technology for pharmaceutical development and therapeutic applications and now aims to move towards a more tangible product defined as a research use testing tool kit.

“It’s very rewarding to be in a position to promote the growth of new start companies in Northern Ireland and Ireland,” said InterTradeIreland chairman Ken Nelson.

“Entrepreneurs and innovators are essential to the health of every economy and InterTradeIreland is proud to support them as they turn ideas into action.

“It’s great to see so many female entrepreneurs involved in the competition this year. I warmly congratulate both of our winners on their success in our very challenging Seedcorn competition.

“I wish them and indeed all those companies who entered this year all the best for the future.”

Previous overall winners from the province include Catagen in 2012 and Sophia Search in 2009.