Galway companies Westway Health and Element Software were named as Best Early Stage company and New Start company respectively at InterTradeIreland’s 11th annual all-island Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition. The winners were announced at the grand final of the competition at Clontarf Castle in Dublin last night. Westway Health as Best Early Stage company will take away a cash prize of €100,000 and Element Software wins €50,000 as the Best New Start company.
Two Northern Ireland companies were also recognised at the Awards. Belfast-based Blow Moulding Technologies and See.Sense from Newtownards each won €20,000 as the Northern Ireland regional winners in the Best New Start and Best Early-stage categories respectively.Their recognition at the Awards brings the total prize money secured by Northern Ireland companies in the Competition to date to €645,000.
Seedcorn is the island’s largest business competition for new start and early stage companies in any sector, from any part of the island. The competition, aimed at companies who have a new equity funding requirement, has an overall total cash prize fund of €280,000. To date, InterTradeIreland has supported over 1,950 enterprising companies through the Seedcorn process with previous finalists going on to secure more than €174 million worth of equity.
Bizimply from Dublin was also awarded for the best venture stemming from a University spinout / support programme, walking away with a cash prize fund of €10,000 on the night.
Speaking at the final, Thomas Hunter McGowan, CEO, InterTradeIreland said:“To be truly investor ready, it’s not all about the pitch and having a perfect presentation; the proposition, the substance behind it and the team are all key for potential investors. Seedcorn provides young companies, who are at a critical stage of their development, the opportunity to really put their proposition to the test. This year we opened our master classes to all the 24 companies that were taking part in the regional finals, which was a valuable opportunity for them. Not only does this give companies an opportunity to test their proposition robustly but it also starts them off on the journey to learn from the experience of those that have already ‘been there, done that’.
“Both Westway Health and Element Software have overcome extremely tough competition throughout the Seedcorn process and their success highlights that they are the bright stars for the future. The team at InterTradeIreland and I sincerely congratulate them both and we look forward to working with them and watching them grow.”
Westway Health has developed a technology designed to tackle major problems in human and animal medicine and to fight antibiotic-resistant bacteria, like MRSA. Westway Health has specifically focused on the treatment and prevention of bovine mastitis (infection of the udder) which is a major health and economic issue, costing the dairy industry in the EU and US over €3 billion a year. Conventional antibiotics are currently used to treat mastitis. However, this solution has poor treatment outcomes, leading to culling of cows and lost milk revenues, as milk from cows treated with antibiotics must be withdrawn from sale for a period of time during and after treatment. Westway Health’s product, PanaMast, is the first non-antibiotic solution meaning farmers can continue to sell milk during and following treatment. As up to 80% of dairy cows exhibit some signs of infections at some stage each year, this will have a major impact on the bottom line of farmers and milk producers.
Prof. Vincent O’Flaherty, Chairman, Westway Health and Head of NUI Galway's School of Natural Sciences said; “The Seedcorn competition process was a great learning curve and we received invaluable feedback from investors, entrepreneurs and advisors regarding our pitch and business plan. The potential market for PanaMast is €1.5 billion per annum from the major markets in Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We are absolutely thrilled to have received this recognition from the Seedcorn judges, especially when we were up against such tough competition. The prize money will help us to fund formal clinical trials next year and to advance towards our target of PanaMast hitting the shelves by 2017.”
Founded in 2011 by Dorothy Creaven (CEO) and James Harkin (CTO), Element Software developed Element Wave, a real-time analytics and mobile messaging platform for app publishers who want to address the issues of customer retention and user conversion. One of the biggest issues with the mobile app market is low user retention with more than 70% of mobile app users drop off within the first three months. Real-time analytics and mobile messaging platform, Element Wave, tackles this problem for app publishers by keeping people interested in using their apps.
Dorothy Creaven, CEO, Element Software said: “We are absolutely delighted to be InterTradeIreland's Seedcorn winner in the New Start category for 2013. With the high standard of competition, it has been great validation for our new product, Element Wave, and an important milestone for our mobile technology company. Element Wave is the next generation in mobile marketing for B2C companies as it helping to solve the major problem of low user retention in the mobile app industry. The Seedcorn competition has meant a lot to us in terms of attracting marketing and investment opportunities, and the prize money will mainly be used to assist us in closing sales with our growing customer base outside of Ireland. Seedcorn is much more than a standard competition; the feedback on our business plan that we have received along the way has really helped to push our business ahead and we look forward to announcing more exciting news in 2014.”
The Seedcorn competition imitates the real-life investment process and gives companies a valuable opportunity to put their business idea to the test and ensure that it is investor- ready and stands up to external scrutiny.
Business plans received were initially assessed and short listed companies were subjected to a rigorous investment pitch process by a panel of judges made up of entrepreneurs, investors and business experts in competing for the Best New Start and Best Early Stage Company titles on a regional basis in Connacht & Leinster, Munster, Dublin and Northern Ireland. The regional winners in each category secured an initial €20,000 share of the prize fund for their company.
Finalist companies also benefit from being part of the InterTradeIreland Seedcorn Network – an extensive business and investment community that helps boost their profile, contacts and future potential investment opportunities.
Further details are available on http://www.intertradeireland.com/seedcorn/. Follow the Seedcorn Competition on Twitter (@ITI_seedcorn #Seedcorn) or on LinkedIn (Seedcorn Network).