Xenobics and Phion Therapeutics go forward to InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Competition final

Belfast-based Xenobics has been named 'Best New Start Company' in the Regional Final of the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Competition 2017.  Pictured with Seedcorn Project Manager, Connor Sweeney (left), is Dr Katrina Campbell. Picture Conor McCabe
Belfast-based Xenobics has been named ‘Best New Start Company’ in the Regional Final of the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Competition 2017. Pictured with Seedcorn Project Manager, Connor Sweeney (left), is Dr Katrina Campbell.

Belfast companies, Xenobics Ltd and Phion Therapeutics Ltd, were named Best New Start Company and Best Early Stage Company respectively, at the Northern Ireland final of the 2017 InterTradeIreland All-Island Seedcorn Investor Readiness competition.

Both companies 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 worth €50,000 or the overall Best Early Stage prize worth €50,000, and ultimately the Overall Winner title, worth €100,000.

Xenobics Ltd is a spinout company from the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen’s University.  Established in October 2014 by Professor Chris Elliott, Dr Katrina Campbell, Dr Brian Green and QUBIS, it produces key diagnostic reagents for rapid diagnostic test kits for enhancing food security and safety in the provision of better solutions.  The company creates antibodies, both polyclonal and monoclonal towards targets affecting the agrifood supply chain.  They provide test kit assay development and validation services for new product implementation for diagnostic companies.  Xenobics is currently working towards the development of a multiple target diagnostic tool that can be used at point of site to ensure food safety through the whole supply chain.

Belfast-based Phion Therapeutics has been named ‘Best Early Stage Company’ in the Regional Final of the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Competition 2017. Pictured with Seedcorn Project Manager, Connor Sweeney (left), are Helen McCarthy and Darrach Neeson.

Phion Therapeutics Ltd was established in May this year by Professor Helen McCarthy and David Tabaczynski and is based on intellectual property developed by Professor McCarthy and her lab at Queen’s University.  It sells services (contract research) and licences (right to use its technology for pharmaceutical development and therapeutic applications).  It intends to launch a third, more tangible, product that is defined as a research use tool kit that allows access to its technology in a less expensive and smaller kit that allows each end user the ability to test the technology.

Julie and David Gray from Grays Clip are pictured with Connor Sweeney (left), Seedcorn Project Manager. The Lisburn-based company was awarded a €10,000 Special Award in the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn competition 2017 for best company which attended a support platform programme.

Gray’s Clip Ltd was set up on July 2015 by Julie Gray and has developed the world’s only fully insulated staple, suitable for use when fixing 240 volt cables to wood.  The staple is fired from a battery powered stapler and is used by electricians when wiring houses.  The company anticipates that there will be a number of complementary follow-on products which will be introduced at a later date.

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. The competition, aimed at those which have a new equity funding requirement, has an overall cash prize fund of €280,000, with no equity stake taken.

To date, InterTradeIreland has supported over 2,300 enterprising companies through the Seedcorn process. With €229 million in new equity being raised by the companies which have reached the regional finals stage of the Seedcorn competition over the past 14 years, the competition has a strong track record of supporting early business start-ups to become investor ready.

Connor Sweeney, Seedcorn Project Manager, InterTradeIreland said; “It is always exciting to work with companies at an early stage in their development. 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.

“With a total cash prize fund of €280,000, Seedcorn is the largest business competition on the island of Ireland. Furthermore, it is widely considered by the business and investment community to be the gold standard for new and emerging businesses. As well as offering a cash prize to the winning companies, it also gives entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch to active investors and this helps them to hone their skills.”

Companies can follow the Competition on Twitter (@ITI_seedcorn) where they can get valuable information and advice from experts.

Further details are also available on the Seedcorn website at www.intertradeireland.com/seedcorn

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