Professor Fiona Doohan Receives 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Award

29th March 2021

Posted In: Innovation

Recipients of NovaUCD’s 2021 Innovation Awards were announced today (29th March) during a virtual event to highlight successes made in areas of knowledge transfer, consultancy, entrepreneurship and the promotion of an innovation culture, by members of the UCD research, innovation and start-up community. A total of 7 Awards, including the main 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Award were announced.

Professor Orla Feely, UCD Vice-President for Research, Innovation and Impact congratulated the recipients whom, she said, ‘continue to shape the future and deliver impact for the economy and society through their commercialisation, consultancy, entrepreneurial and innovation activities’.

The 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Award was awarded to Professor Fiona Doohan, UCD School of Biology and Environmental Science. As a crop scientist Professor Doohan’s research is focused on improving the sustainability of crop production systems in Ireland and globally, and enhancing the diversification, safety and transparency of Irish food systems and she has secured over €30 million in research funding to date.

Professor Doohan has filed a total of 14 invention disclosures with NovaUCD in areas such as novel endophytes and their use in improving yield and suppressing diseases in crops; genes conferring resistance to fungal diseases that attack cereals; a novel enzyme used to break down lignocellulose to produce bioethanol along with a method of transforming cells to improve crop traits.

A number of these inventions have been co-developed with collaborators in Teagasc and Trinity College Dublin. Seven of these inventions have been patented and three licence agreements have been signed with industry.

Professor Fiona Doohan is also a co-founder of e-Seed Crop Technology Solutions, a joint UCD-TCD spin-out company, which is focused on developing novel endophytes that can increase crop yields.

Professor Fiona Doohan said, “I am honoured to receive the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Award. The enhanced global consumption of crop-based foods and the move within the EU and globally towards more sustainable agricultural practices mean that now, more than ever, we need innovation in crop science to ensure that the Irish agri-food sector continues to lead in the development of sustainable, traceable, quality foodstuffs.”

Professor Doohan is also a Principal Investigator on several major national and international research initiatives, including CONSUS, Food Shield and Healthy Oats and the EU project INNOVAR.

Six other Awards announced today included:

The recipients of the 2021 NovaUCD Invention of the Year Award are; Professor Patricia Maguire, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, Professor Fionnuala Ní Aínle, UCD School of Medicine and Dr Paulina Szklanna, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, for their discovery of biomarkers which can be used to diagnose preeclampsia risk.

The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Spin-out of the Year Award is Equal1 Labs which is developing a new type of quantum computer based on the latest advances in semiconductor CMOS (Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor) technology. The company, founded by Dr Dirk Leipold, Professor R. Bogdan Staszewski and Mike Asker, is a spin-out from the UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering.

The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Consultancy of the Year Award is Professor Michael Wallace, UCD School Agriculture and Food Science, for a consultancy study entitled ‘Economic Impact Assessment of the Tillage Sector in Ireland’ commissioned by Tillage Industry Ireland through ConsultUCD.

The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Founder of the Year Award is Charlie Gleeson, founder and CEO of Zipp Mobility, the micromobility start-up. During 2020 Zipp Mobility secured over €1.1 million in seed funding, including €250,000 from Enterprise Ireland, launched e-scooter operations in multiple UK locations and grew the Zipp Mobility team from 1 to 20 people across Ireland and the UK.

The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Champion of the Year Award is Dr Paul Cuffe, UCD School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, for his dedication to working with UCD engineering programme students, to unlock the commercial trajectory of their final year dissertation projects. In 2020 he supervised Philip Snell’s, ME Electronic and Computer Engineering thesis project to prototype a new MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) controller. The result of this project is the Joyst JV-1 MIDI controller which provides an array of gamer-style thumb joysticks to give more expressive possibilities for electronic musicians.

The recipient of the 2021 NovaUCD Licence of the Year Award is Dr Donal MacKernan, UCD School of Physics, who has developed a disruptive molecular switch platform technology. During 2020 this technology was licensed by NovaUCD to a US-based company, Fionnachtain Inc, with an initial application as a point-of-care medical diagnostic for COVID-19 and influenza.

You can watch a short video which highlights successes and achievements of the 2021 NovaUCD Innovation Awardees here>>