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Local SME joins EU innovation leaders



Chief Scientific Officer, Prof Vincent O'Flaherty.

A Galway start-up is one of four Irish small and medium-sized enterprises on a pan-European list of 141 selected for funding in the latest round of Horizon 2020.

Westway Health joins three Irish other Irish SMEs – Atturos, Evolution Environmental Services Ltd and TruePivot, all based in Dublin – who will each receive €50,000 to finance feasibility studies for new products that can disrupt the market.

They can also ask for up to three days of business coaching and after that may be considered for further financial support from the Commission worth up to €2.5 million.

Westway Health/Slainte Beoga Teoranta is involved in the development of non-antibiotic therapy for the treatment of bovine mastitis.

“The lack of effectiveness of antibiotics and the growing rise of bacteria resistant to antibiotics, such as MRSA, is a major concern,” explained Dr. Ruairi Friel CEO of Westway Health.

“The WHO has described this as an ‘increasingly serious threat to global public health’. As such, there is an urgent need for novel, effective treatments against bacteria,” he added.

So Westway Health, a start-up company from NUI Galway, is developing such a solution.

Based upon almost ten years of research from the laboratory of Prof Vincent O’Flaherty, at NUI Galway, they have developed and are commercialising a suite of non-antibiotic technologies effective at killing all microorganisms.

“These technologies have a range of applications in human health, animal health and for environmental sterilisation, in eliminating and eradicating microorganisms, such as bacteria, yeast and fungi. The lead product in their pipeline is for the treatment of bovine mastitis,” said Dr Friel.

Chief Scientific Officer, Prof Vincent O’Flaherty explained that current mastitis treatments involve antibiotics – and these are unsatisfactory.

“They are not always effective, bacteria can become resistant to antibiotics, and to avoid antibiotics entering the human food chain, the milk must be discarded during treatment and cannot be sold or consumed for a number of days afterwards.

“Our technology avoids these problems, allowing for a potentially effective zero withdrawal treatment, that is, allowing farmers to treat mastitis and sell their milk throughout treatment – becoming the world’s first such product,” he added.

The inclusion of these four Irish companies brings to 38 the total number of Irish SMEs funded so far under the SME Instrument (29 Phase 1 receiving €50,000 each and nine Phase 2 receiving up to €2.5 million each).


Connacht Tribune

New President for Local Ireland



Left to right, Bob Hughes, Executive Director, Local Ireland, Dan Linehan, Head of Irish Times Regionals and Declan McGuire, Operations Manager of the Connacht Tribune.

The new President of Local Ireland, the association representing local news publishers around the country, is Head of Irish Times Regionals Dan Linehan.

Mr Linehan takes over the presidency from Declan McGuire of the Connacht Tribune. His appointment was confirmed at the recent Annual General Meeting of Local Ireland at Bloomfield House Hotel near Mullingar, Westmeath.

Mr Linehan, who has served as Vice President of the organisation for the last two years, said: “The coming years are a very important time for local publishers with many important issues to be addressed, including the implementation of the Future of Media Commission recommendations, defamation reform, the role and support for local publishers in public service reporting and helping publishers develop commercial digital offerings.”

Speaking at the AGM, Mr McGuire acknowledged the work done by the Executive in the past two years under the direction of Executive Director, Bob Hughes, on several projects related to the publishing industry but most especially the successful conclusion of the long-running campaign for the abolition of VAT on newspapers.

He also wished Mr Linehan the very best in his new role as President of the association for the next two years.

Mr Hughes thanked Mr McGuire for his leadership and support during his term of office and said he looked forward to working with Mr Linehan on the key policy priorities for the association, including Government supports, Government advertising, fair remuneration for content from the tech platforms and the reform of the legislation for defamation.

Local Ireland members also elected Seán Mahon, Managing Director of the Southern Star, as Vice President for the next two years.

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Connacht Tribune

Employers’ group hears of key challenges facing businesses in the region



Pictured at Regional Insight Series in the Galmont Hotel are: Trevor O’Rourke, (CEO, Fibre Networks Ireland); Senan Colleran, (Head ESB Assets, Generation & Trading, ESB); Eilish O'Sullivan, (Human Resources Director, Medtronic); Danny McCoy, (CEO, Ibec); Helen Leahy, (Head of Regional Policy, Ibec); Ruairi Conroy (Diligent Corporation) and Fergal O’Brien, (Executive Director of Lobbying & Influence, Ibec). PHOTO: Michael Dillon.

The shortage of affordable housing is the single biggest impediment in attracting and retaining workers in the West, according to business group Ibec.

At a ‘Regional Insights Series’ meeting in the Galmont Hotel in Galway last week, employers were told that capacity constraints and labour supply are the key challenges facing business growth in the region.

Ibec Head of Regional Policy Helen Leahy said: “There must be greater focus by government on enhancing quality of life issues such as housing and infrastructure which are driving labour shortages in the region.

“Ibec’s vision for the West is to realise its potential to become a globally competitive location. An inadequate supply of affordable housing is now the single largest impediment to attracting and retaining talented workers, without whom business investment and expansions are not possible.

“Labour shortages are a real concern for businesses in the region. People decide where to live and work based on quality of life and access to high quality services and amenities. Industry tends to follow talent, and in this regard, the region needs to have all the building blocks in place as the attraction and retention of world-class talent becomes increasingly competitive on a global level,” said Ms Leahy.

Amongst Ibec’s priorities for the West are:

  • Addressing housing and infrastructure challenges
  • Transitioning towards a new growth model with Net Zero energy powered by Atlantic offshore wind resources
  • Adapting businesses to the new economic realities
  • Enhancing capacity and skillsets to achieve sustainable development objectives
  • Investment in people and skills
  • Creating competitive advantage through digitalisation
  • Innovation as a key driver of productivity growth




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Connacht Tribune

Survey finds one in five retailers in Galway want to go fully cashless



Conor Quirke of BOI Payment Acceptance: move to card payments.

One in five Galway businesses want to go fully cashless, as the move towards card payments and tapping continues unabated post-Covid.

In all, 22% of Galway businesses would like to be fully cashless, according to a survey carried out by BOI Payment Acceptance (BOIPA), a provider of payment technology solutions, which asked Irish businesses about the current payment landscape as well as business confidence and concerns.

Over one-third (36%) of Galway businesses were unaware there is no contactless limit on mobile wallets – just below the national average – while 54% believe the increase in card over cash transactions has helped them run their business.

Six out of ten Galway businesses expect to grow this year despite the cost-of-living crisis and running costs dominating as key concerns; 62% believe their business will grow over the next twelve months despite global economic uncertainty.

Unsurprisingly cost-of-living increases and running costs were the main concerns the majority of businesses had.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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