Pictured at NovaUCD are; Tom Flanagan, Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, UCD; Matt Johnson, founder, EPIC Conjoint; Paul O'Connor, founder, This is Seaweed and Brian Whelan, founder, Travacoin (Image: Nick Bradshaw, Fotonic).
Three early-stage start-ups have become the latest companies to spin-in to NovaUCD and join the community of entrepreneurs at University College Dublin’s (UCD) Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs. Over 25 companies, employing some 200 people, are currently located at NovaUCD.
The three companies, EPIC Conjoint, This is Seaweed and Travacoin, have located to NovaUCD in order to collaborate with and benefit from engagement with the University.
EPIC Conjoint, established by Matt Johnston in 2016, has developed an enterprise software-as-a-service platform that enables companies of any size to rapidly conduct powerful market research globally, delivering customer insights on products, pricing and perceived value in the market.
This is Seaweed is building a global organic food brand and aims to encourage consumers to engage with seaweeds and to understand the benefits they possess with regards to nutrition and taste. Each seaweed in the company’s product range has its own suite of beneficial vitamins and minerals that make them ‘superfoods’. This is Seaweed was established in 2015 by Paul O’Connor, a marine biologist and a seafood enthusiast.
Travacoin is developing an application to enable airlines to use Blockchain-based coins, rather than fiat currency, to refund and compensate passengers in the event of flight disruption. Travacoin was established in 2016 by Brian Whelan who has extensive experience in the area of air passenger rights and advocacy, both in the public and private sectors.
Between them the three companies are planning to create up to 30 new jobs and raise up to €7.5 million in funding over the next 2-years.
Matt Johnston, founder, EPIC Conjoint said, "Many businesses of all shapes and sizes squander significant profits by either undercharging or overcharging for their products and services without realising it. Through our innovative platform we are helping blue-chip brands and SME companies inject certainty and success into their product and pricing decisions, giving insightful data.”
He added, “We are delighted to locate at NovaUCD, Ireland's premier start-up hub and to avail of its fantastic facilities, mentor programmes and access to its ecosystem, investors, talent and advice. During 2018, in addition to helping companies across EMEA, EPIC Conjoint is looking forward to collaborating with leading business schools in Ireland, including UCD, and in the UK and in the US, to equip their MBA graduates with access to our powerful customer insight software.”
Paul O’Connor, founder, This is Seaweed said, “The company is committed to producing great tasting foods that are both on-trend and support good healthy living. Our ethos is to promote sustainable agriculture and provide economic stability for producer communities.”
He added, “NovaUCD offers a great location and supports and access to research opportunities with UCD. The company recently secured an Enterprise Ireland innovation voucher for a research project to develop seaweed blends for the nutraceutical market both at home and abroad. The nutraceutical market is expanding rapidly as consumers look for more sustainable, natural products for health and well-being.”
Brian Whelan, founder, Travacoin said, “We have been examining the development of a new application which would enable airlines to proactively offer tokens or vouchers instead of cash, when refunding or compensating passengers, for some time. When Blockchain technology came along such an application suddenly began receiving a lot of interest from the airline industry and our task now is to turn that interest into commitments.”
“We are currently developing a Minimum Viable Product and have conducted an economic feasibility study with support from Enterprise Ireland. In the coming months, we expect to launch a prototype to industry and to engage them in some further testing before a phased product roll-out in late 2019 or early 2020.”
He added, "Blockchain is a new and very immature technology and it is important for us to be in the heart of a learning environment when we start to build applications for industry. NovaUCD is an exceptional environment where innovation and academia meet and we are very excited to be a part of the community here.”
NovaUCD is a purpose-built, state-of-the-art facility for high-tech and knowledge-intensive start-ups, which have either spun-out of UCD research programmes or which spin-in to locate on campus to collaborate with the university.
Tom Flanagan, Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation, UCD, said, “I would like to take this opportunity to welcome EPIC Conjoint, This is Seaweed and Travacoin, the latest companies who have spun-in to NovaUCD. The founders of these companies are experienced entrepreneurs who will be a great addition to our community and we look forward to working with them to facilitate access to UCD’s world-class research expertise and talent.”
He added, “These companies have global ambition and significant plans for job creation and fund raising over the next few years and we look forward to assisting them to achieve these goals.”
To date NovaUCD has supported the launch of over 200 successful high-tech companies which have attracted over €200 million in equity investment. Successes include companies such as BiancaMed acquired by ResMed; Equinome acquired by Plusvital and Logentries acquired by Rapid7.