Akara – a Trinity College Dublin spinout formed in 2019 and now based at The Digital Hub in Dublin’s Liberties – has been awarded significant funding by the European Innovation Council (EIC), which will aid the creation of a robot production facility in Dublin and expand the commercial operations of the business [Thursday 14th October 2021].
The recommended funding, awarded through the EIC’s highly competitive accelerator programme, is expected to provide a minimum of €2.4 million, with more expected to be raised via co-investment.
Akara will use the funding to create a robot production facility, which will drastically increase the company’s output to an estimated 100 robots per year. Central to production efforts will be their robot, Violet. Violet, nicknamed so because it uses Ultraviolet UVC radiation to eliminate germs in hospital settings including Covid-19, MRSA and influenza, offers improved performance in decontaminating rooms.
Violet is designed to assist in alleviating pressure and freeing up more time for health professionals to conduct important procedures through quick and effective cleaning practices. This innovative solution has emerged from years of research from Trinity’s School of Engineering and the SFI ADAPT Centre. Akara is aiming to add 20 new jobs in areas including engineering, software development, business development, marketing and biological sciences over the next two years to aid with their global expansion plans.
With the support of the HSE, Akara’s robots have been deployed at the Midlands Regional Hospital Tullamore and other Irish hospitals over the past two years, where they have been making the cleaning process up to 10 times faster, maximising the availability of facilities after decontamination.
Dr Conor McGinn said: “We are thrilled to have secured this highly competitive funding, which will allow us to create a robot production facility right here in Dublin that is capable of building germ-killing robots for use in Ireland and globally.
We founded Akara two years ago to empower frontline workers by giving them the tools they need to make hospitals safer and improve outcomes for patients and staff alike. The COVID 19 pandemic has put the issue of decontaminating clinical settings into sharper focus than ever before and it is staggering to think that around 30,000 people contract infections in Irish hospitals each year.
We are excited to think that in the near future our robots could be seen in hospitals across the world where we expect them to save time, money and – most importantly – lives.”
Leonard Hobbs, Director of Trinity Research & Innovation, said: “Akara is a research-led company which continues to go from strength to strength, and I welcome the funding they have secured through the European Innovation Council. It is encouraging to see a company, spun out from Trinity, realising ambitious plans to scale at a global level. There is also great potential for job creation at Akara, which serves to further underline the value of Trinity research and its ability to make significant societal impact.”
Much of the scientific validation underlying the Akara technology has been achieved over the last two years through collaboration with colleagues in Trinity’s School of Genetics and Microbiology via the RObots to Protect Against COVID (ROPAC) project, which was funded by Science Foundation Ireland.
The mandate of the EIC funding is to support disruptive innovations that build on scientific discovery or technological breakthroughs in “deep tech”, and where significant funding is needed over a long timeframe.
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