ADAPT Researchers Win TCD Innovation Awards

09 November 2022

A number of ADAPT researchers won awards at Trinity’s Innovation Awards which took place in TCD last night.  Professor Orla Hardiman received the headline Provost Innovation Award.  In addition, Professor Peter Crooks won in the Societal Impact category; Professor Conor McGinn won the Campus Company Founder award for Akara Robotics; and two ADAPT Centre spinout companies, Swan and VoiceTune, won in the campus companies category.  In addition, ADAPT’s AIMapIt was shortlisted in the Inventor Category.

The Trinity Innovation Awards recognise Trinity’s leading researchers and inventors and celebrate their innovative research and entrepreneurship. 

Provost Innovation Award

Orla Hardiman, Professor of Neurology, received the top Award on the night.  Professor Hardiman, Head of the Academic Unit of Neurology in Trinity and leader of the ADAPT led Precision ALS Spoke, is also a PI at the SFI FutureNeuro and ADAPT Research Centres. She is founder and director of the National ALS/MND Clinical and Research Programme, and the HSE National Clinical Lead for Neurology. An exceptional clinician scientist and an established world authority on the causes, diagnosis and treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS), Orla has established the world’s longest-running ALS register in Trinity, co-founded TRICALS – which brings together 48 research centres in 16 countries to improve clinical trial design – and transformed our understanding of the genetic causes of ALS, as well as revealing biomarkers of the disease and led innovations in care and digital healthcare.

Dr Linda Doyle, Provost and President of Trinity, said: “I want to congratulate all the recipients of this year’s Trinity Innovation Awards. Innovation in Trinity has its roots in rigorous academic research and it is striking to see such a wide range of disciplines – from history to zoology – represented among this year’s winners. These innovations are addressing a wide range of issues such as the need for more reliable broadband, a diagnosis for Parkinson’s disease and a better understanding of ageing in people with intellectual disabilities.

“In particular, I am absolutely delighted to present Prof. Orla Hardiman with the Provost’s Innovation Award. Orla is a global authority on the causes, diagnoses and treatment of Motor Neuron Disease. She has an outstanding record of clinical and academic achievement, coupled with significant international and interdisciplinary collaborations. As the HSE’s National Clinical Lead for Neurology, as a consultant neurologist at Beaumont Hospital and as Trinity’s first Professor of Neurology, she strives to improve the lives of people living with Motor Neuron Disease by developing highly innovative approaches in her research and in her collaborative partnerships. 

“I would also like to thank the Trinity team for organising this event and for supporting our researchers with their expertise in critical areas such as technology transfer.”

Campus Company Founders

Professor Conor McGinn, who founded Akara Robotics, was honoured within this category. Conor, an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering, has raised pre-seed funding and employs eight people on the Akara team. .

Societal Impact

Peter Crooks, Associate Professor in the School of Histories & Humanities, won an award in the Societal Impact category. Peter is founding director of the Beyond 2022: Ireland’s Virtual Record Treasury project, which has created a VR reconstruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland and its collections, which were destroyed at the beginning of the Irish Civil War in 1922.

Campus Companies

Four new campus companies were also fittingly announced on the night.  Included were two from ADAPT, Swan, and VoiceTune. Swan offers a new AI-driven body scanning technology for fashion eCommerce, enabling online retailers to sell more clothes, without the returns; and VoiceTune is a cloud-based Text-to-Speech AI platform that takes input text and automatically generates high-fidelity, expressive speech with emotions.

Leonard Hobbs, Director of Trinity’s Research and Innovation Unit, said: “We are delighted to again recognise the inspiring work of our colleagues who consistently translate their excellence in research into impactful innovations, providing solutions across a broad range of areas such as health, heritage, communications, robotics and materials. We also welcome this year’s campus company founders who continue to exploit Trinity’s deep tech capabilities in launching investable spin-outs.”