epiCaPture Wins UCD’s 2020 Start-Up of the Year Award

2nd December 2020

Posted In: Innovation

epiCaPture, an early-stage venture which is developing a novel urine DNA test for aggressive prostate cancer, has won the 2020 University College Dublin (UCD) Start-Up of the Year Award. The epiCaPture test measures six epigenetic biomarkers which are indicative of aggressive disease, using a widely available PCR platform.

epiCaPture won the Award, and a €32,000 prize fund, after being declared overall winner of the 2020 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme, which is run by NovaUCD. The aim of the annual Programme, which this year took place virtually, is to support the creation and launch of sustainable and profitable new start-ups emerging from the University.

The epiCaPture test has potential as a non-invasive, early-detection and screening test to augment the current PSA blood test for the early-detection of aggressive prostate cancer. A second application is as a repeated use monitoring tool for men with low-grade disease, to identify tumour progression.

The members of the epiCaPture team, a start-up emerging from the UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science are, Dr Antoinette Perry, Asia Jordan, Adele Connor and Ross Nelson, along with Edward Simons, a chartered accountant and former investment banker.

Dr Antoinette Perry, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science said, “We are delighted and honoured to have won the 2020 UCD Start-up of the Year Award which is testament to the research dedication and hard work of the epiCaPture team over the last number of years.”

“By selectively detecting aggressive prostate cancer disease, epiCaPture informs on the need to biopsy and thus could have a significant societal and economic impact by eliminating unnecessary, costly and invasive procedures for the majority of men with the disease.

epiCaPture performance thus far looks really promising. We’re currently at the stage of validating the results in an independent cohort, and we anticipate results by mid next year.”

She added, “I would like to thank all the patients in Ireland and abroad who very kindly donated a urine sample. Without their participation, none of this work would be possible. I would also like to acknowledge grant funding from Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Cancer Society, Movember, Science Foundation Ireland and the US Prostate Cancer Foundation, which has enabled this research.”

She concluded, “I would also like to acknowledge the great encouragement provided by NovaUCD, the VentureLaunch programme facilitators, and all of the other VentureLaunch participants through their invaluable feedback and support during the programme.”

The main objective of the UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme is to equip participants with the knowledge, skills and understanding that will be required to work as part of a team leading a new commercial venture. On completion of the programme the expectation is that participating new ventures will have developed a commercially viable business plan.

The programme consists of eight (8) workshops delivered over a 2-month period from October to November. The Business Model Canvas approach to start-up development forms the basis of the programme with each session consisting of a mix of taught content and interactive workshops delivered by external experts as well as involving talks from entrepreneurs. Participants also gain expert mentoring on marketing, finance and funding, sales and pitching to investors.

Tom Flanagan, Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, NovaUCD said, “It is great to be able to support our UCD research community to accelerate the creation of exciting new start-ups through our VentureLaunch programme, which of course was held online this year.”

He added, “I would like to congratulate the epiCaPture team on winning this year’s programme and I wish them, and all the programme participants, every commercial success, here in Ireland and internationally, in the years ahead.”

In addition to the 2020 UCD Start-up of the Year Award epiCaPture receives a cheque for €10,000 sponsored by AIB, a professional services package to the value of €10,000 sponsored by Bryan Maguire Business Consulting and Deloitte and incubation space at NovaUCD to the value of €12,000.

The 2020 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme evaluation panel, which selected the overall winner following pitches by the five finalists, was chaired by Dr Helen McBreen, Investment Director, Atlantic Bridge. The other members of the panel were; Denis Dudley, AIB; Caroline Gaynor, Lightstone Ventures; Dr Sean Baker, NDRC and a NovaUCD Entrepreneur-in-Residence; Dr Sharon O’Kane, LivaNova and a NovaUCD Entrepreneur-in-Residence, and Conor Mills, ACT Venture Capital.

The other participants on this year’s programme were, AquaB Nanobubble Innovations Ltd, Joyst Instruments Ltd, recsyslabs and seamlessCARE.

Pictured is Dr Antoinette Perry (Nick Bradshaw, Fotonic).