Finalists named for NI's INVENT 2021 innovation competition

  • 10 future focused finalists have been announced for INVENT 2021, Catalyst's competition for entrepreneurial early-stage businesses from Northern Ireland.

    Belfast-based science and tech hub Catalyst supports, showcases and rewards the local innovations and proof of concept ideas that have the greatest commercial potential in this annual programme.

    The finalists will have the chance to take home a share of an increased prize fund of £47,000, with a £25,000 first prize for the overall winner. Each INVENT category winner will receive £5,000. Additional prizes of £1,000 will be awarded to the best student application and the best elevator pitch delivered on the night of the INVENT Awards on 30 September.

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    The 10 shortlisted start-ups are drawn from five different categories, which were refreshed for this year’s awards to reflect global trends, while also aligning with the clusters Catalyst believes will drive the local economy in future. The finalists selected are:

    • Greentech: BODtech; Tankcube
    • Health & Wellbeing: Informed Minds; Stim Oxygen
    • Product: Excavator Forklift; Safewater Technologies
    • Consumer Software: Ecko; Stable Manager
    • Business Software: Anneal; Defensive Thinking

    The finalists were chosen after two days of live, in-person semi-final pitches to a highly experienced judging panel that included Edward Stevenson from SFC Capital; Juliette Souliman from MMC Ventures; Sam Fennell from ACF Investors; Nico Albanese of Ascension; Michael Shaw from RPS; and Niall Devlin from Bank of Ireland (which is also the headline partner for the event).

    Kerry McGarvey, Programme Manager of INVENT 2021, said: “This competition is designed to shine a light on the ingenuity and creativity of local entrepreneurs, which has been in greater need than ever over the past 18 months. We have been really encouraged by the high standard of applicants for INVENT and amazed by the quality and disruptive potential of their innovations and products, many of which have been developed during the pandemic. This bodes well for the future of the local innovation economy and we wish all of finalists the best of luck for the big day in September.”

    RELATED: Cancer therapy tech named overall winner of INVENT 2020

    This year’s final will take place in person but will also be streamed live from the ICC Belfast. Last year, more than 1,500 people from around the world tuned into hear the finalists pitch their ideas.

    About the contestants:

    • BODtech has created purpose-built hydropower turbines can be incredibly expensive. This simple technology makes clean, sustainable and clean energy available to communities across the country.
    • Tankcube uses low-carbon technology for domestic hot water, helping achieve your NetZero.
    • Informed Minds is an app that shares peer and professional support through short real-life vlogs to tackle the stigma around mental health wellbeing issues head on together, letting us know that we are not alone, people care and giving us the hope to try again tomorrow.
    • Stim Oxygen enhances the effects of cancer treatment by overcoming hypoxia in solid tumours.
    • Excavator Forklift is a mini-digger lifting attachment which allows digger users to treble the lifting capacity of their 1.0-3.5 tonne excavator and lift pallets or bagged loads in excess of 1.0 tonne.
    • Safewater Technologies provides a simple to use IoT portable device for determining faecal contamination of drinking waterfor use in rural communities without access to labs.
    • Ecko is an online audio-based collaboration platform that connects people from all around the globe, providing an experience that rivals being in the room with your collaborators.
    • Stable Manager is the equestrian world's new hub. Quantify performance, simplify horse care & streamline your equine business with our purpose-built mobile app. Built by an equestrian for equestrians.
    • Anneal is an engineering collaboration and knowledge management platform for high-performing engineering teams, designed to help accelerate and improve the engineering development process.
    • Defensive Thinking provides a 360 data-to-intelligence solution by providing UN Peacekeepers with the ability to transform geospatial data into action.

    About the awards categories:

    • Greentech - Products, solutions and tech that enable a sustainable future.
    • Health and Wellbeing - Improving the quality of life through pushing the boundaries in life sciences, med tech and health promotion.
    • Product - A physical product designed and fabricated to offer the consumer or business a novel innovative solution.
    • Business Software - Computer software products or solutions used to satisfy the needs of an organisation rather than individual users, including innovations in sectors such as fintech, insurtech and cyber security.
    • Consumer Software - Consumer software is a class of commercial software that is sold directly to end-users as opposed to businesses.

    Niall Devlin, Head of Business Banking NI at Bank of Ireland UK added: “At Bank of Ireland we understand that success in business doesn’t just happen. It is created by people with great vision, who innovate and take risks in order to deliver enhanced outcomes for their customers and/or communities. As Invent continues to amplify the excellent standard of innovative talent and potential we have in Northern Ireland we congratulate the worthy finalists who demonstrated passion, impressive knowledge and commercial potential to disrupt the marketplace."

    More details and video of the awards can be found at

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