The 2013 winners of the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, Kinsale Community College  students, Ciara Judge, Emer Hickey and Sophie Healy-Thow, have been awarded First prize in Biology at the European Union Contest for Young Scientists in Prague today.

Representing Ireland (North and South) the girls beat off intense competition from over 120 students from 38 countries, ranging in ages from 14-20 to win the award worth €7,000 as well as an honorary award of an all expenses paid trip to the London International Youth Science Forum.

Each year the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition winner receives the honour of representing Ireland in the annual EU competition. Colm O’Neill, Chief Executive, BT Ireland said, “In 25 years of competing at the EU competition, Ireland has now taken home the top honours 15 times, out-performing all other countries. We believe this major award will add to the future career prospects for Ciara, Emer and Sophie, raise the profile of their school and teachers, and further boost the impressive international credentials of the BT Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition. The girls have done us proud.”

Ciara, Emer and Sophie from Kinsale Community College won the coveted 2013 BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition prize for their project entitled, ‘A statistical investigation of the effects of diazotroph bacteria on plant germination.’  Their project investigated the benefits of diazotrophs during the germination stage of plant growth. The girls statistically analysed the results of their investigations using the student T-test.

Congratulations from The Science Squad!!

For further information about the students’ project, check out this video


ReelLife Science, a novel Science video competition, was recently launched in 316 primary and secondary schools by a team of NUI Galway staff and students. The competition aims to involve school children in Science in a fun way, developing their analytical, creative and communication skills, while enabling NUI Galway researchers and students to engage in Outreach in an innovative manner.

The initiative was conceived by NUI Galway’s Dr Enda O’Connell, a winner of the inaugural ‘I’m a Scientist, Get me out of Here, Ireland” competition in November 2012, securing funding for a science communication project. Additional funding to expand the project was awarded by the NUI Galway Students’ Union EXPLORE Innovation Initiative and the College of Science.

Now supported by a team of NUI Galway Science communicators, ReelLife Science will award a total of €1000 in prizes, while winners will also be invited to attend the Galway Science and Technology Festival on Sunday, 24 November in NUI Galway, where their videos will be on display to the general public.

Short (1-3 min) videos may be submitted by the invited schools consisting of all primary and secondary schools in Galway, and the 28 schools which participated in ‘I’m a Scientist, get me out of here, Ireland’ 2012. Videos will be judged by a panel of internationally recognised scientists, including Professor Rhodri Ceredig, REMEDI, NUI Galway and Professor Andrea Brand of Gurdon Institute, Cambridge.

Emma Dalton, Science teacher and Transition Year Coordinator in St Enda’s College Galway, said of her students’ upcoming participation: “I am very excited, as this competition offers an opportunity for students to step away from the curriculum and engage in Science in a more fun way. It is also an opportunity for them to guide their own learning and then, even better, to practice sharing what they have learnt with others. I am really looking forward to seeing the ideas they come up with.”

The closing date for submissions is Friday, 25 October. The winning videos will be displayed on the projects website,, Facebook page, and Twitter feed, @ReelLifeScience, where regular updates, Science news and blog posts can be found.

For further information visit


Equilume, a new Irish equine technology company, today announced its official launch. Equilume, a University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company supported by Enterprise Ireland, is set to become a world leader in light therapy solutions to assist global Thoroughbred breeders to maximise the reproductive efficiency and performance in their horses.

The company has developed and is selling the Equilume Light Mask, a novel automated mobile lighting device, which fits comfortably under a horse’s head collar. The Mask has been scientifically proven to provide the optimum level of blue light to a single eye of a mare to successfully advance her breeding season.

The universal birthday for a Thoroughbred foal (born in the northern hemisphere) is January 1st in the year in which a foal is born which contrasts with the natural foaling season of the horse which is from May to October. This crucial, industry wide, date creates a demand for Thoroughbred breeders to advance the onset of their mares’ breeding season to produce early foals, to ensure mature yearlings for sales and precocious two-year olds for racing.

Horses are naturally ‘long-day’ seasonal breeders and daylight is a primary regulator of reproduction in horses. As days start to get longer in Spring, the inhibitory action of the hormone melatonin on a mare’s reproduction activity is reduced and mares come into season.

Thoroughbred breeders have known about the importance of light on a mare’s reproduction cycle for decades. In order to fool a mare’s reproductive system into activating earlier than in nature, many breeders currently maintain, at a significant cost, their non-pregnant mares indoors, under artificial lighting for 8 to 10 weeks prior to the official start of the breeding season in February.

However by using the Equilume Light Mask Thoroughbred breeders can now still meet crucial industry timelines and at the same time eliminate the requirement to maintain their non-pregnant mares indoors under artificial lighting and save at least €1,000 per mare per season.

The Equilume Light Mask has been developed as a result of ground breaking research carried out by company founder, Dr Barbara Murphy, UCD School of Agriculture and Food Science in collaboration with Professor John Sheridan, an optoelectronics researcher in UCD’s School of Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering.

Speaking at the official launch of Equilume, Dr Barbara Murphy said, “Our research at University College Dublin found that very low intensities of blue light are required to inhibit circulating concentrations of melatonin in the horse and that it is sufficient to deliver blue light to a single eye of a mare and still inhibit melatonin levels to daylight levels.”

“We developed the Equilume Light Mask to provide a safe and cost-effective method of administering an automated, low-level light to a single eye of a mare and it has been designed and tested to deliver sufficient light stimulus to inhibit melatonin production in the mare and thus advance the mare’s reproductively active season.”

She added, “An important advantage of the Equilume Light Mask is that it also allows horses be horses, and live outdoors in their natural environment where they are happier and healthier.”

It is currently not standard industry practice to maintain pregnant mares indoors under artificial lighting prior to foaling. The consequences of the lack of sufficient natural or artificial light for early foaling mares during late pregnancy are longer gestation periods, lower foal birth weights and post-foaling reproductive problems.

The Equilume Light Mask can also be used to provide pregnant mares with the light stimulus required to ensure timely gestation, increased foal birth weights and reductions in post-foaling cyclicity problems which are associated with early foaling dates outside of the natural breeding season.

Speaking at the launch, Dermot Cantillon, one of Ireland’s leading commercial Thoroughbred breeders, and owner/manager of three stud farms in Ireland and in the USA, said, “I have been excited since being introduced to this concept and having successfully used the Equilume Light Masks for the last two breeding seasons, I am confident that it will be a worldwide success for breeders.”

W.R. (Twink) Allen, Director, Paul Mellon Laboratory of Reproduction, Newmarket, UK, speaking about the new mask said, “At last, a novel and exciting advance in horse breeding which is based on sound theory and solid science. The Equilume Light Mask is sure to be of major practical benefit to the Thoroughbred breeders around the world who have the good sense to use it.”

UCD’s technology transfer team at NovaUCD facilitated the identification and protection of the intellectual property arising from Dr Murphy’s research which resulted in the development of the Equilume Light Mask. Dr Murphy was also a participant, and an award winner, on the NovaUCD 2011 Campus Company Development Programme. This Programme assists UCD academic and research entrepreneurs in bringing their innovative ideas from intellectual concepts to fully developed and sound commercial businesses.

Brendan Cremen, UCD Director of Enterprise and Commercialisation said, “Equilume, is a prime example of a UCD spin-out company established to translate an innovative idea arising from world-class research carried out in the University into a commercial entity with global potential.”

Equilume currently employs 4 people and plans to increase staff numbers to 10 by the end of 2016.

The Equilume Light Mask is entirely manufactured in Ireland.

Equilume has already won a number of other awards including Enterprise Ireland’s ‘One to Watch’ Award (2012) and overall winner Newbridge 200 Business Start-Up Competition (2012).

Equilume made the official announcement of its launch at an event held at Killashee House Hotel, Co. Kildare attended by leading Thoroughbred breeders and veterinarians in Ireland.


Scientists at IT Sligo are providing the research for a new business venture which is developing an Irish equivalent of Manuka Honey.

Through the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Voucher Scheme, three of the Institute’s scientists – Dr James Brennan, Dr Tom Patton and Dr John Barrett – are assisting three Donegal-based businessmen in developing the business, which won the 2013 Taste of Donegal Best Product of the Festival recently.

‘Active Irish Honey’ is the brainchild of Conor Daly, Carl Diver and Austin Duignan.  Irish honey has the same activity levels – and therefore therapeutic benefits – as the world-famous Manuka Honey, they say, and tests underway at IT Sligo verify it.

Dr James Brennan, Head of Department of Life Sciences at IT Sligo, and lecturers Dr Patton and Dr Barrett, have gained international recognition for their research into honey. Dr Brennan says the research findings are ‘exciting’; “We’re testing the honey against international standards, using the Phenol standard test, and the results are exciting.  We can determine the activity level of the honey, as well as the season and plants that produce the highest activity levels,” he said.

Conor Daly, who is also a beekeeper in his spare time, says that the potential for the market is huge; “Irish consumers want to buy local products for a variety of reasons, not least because it supports jobs locally. The more local the honey the more effective it is believed to be in preventing the symptoms of allergies. Many hay fever sufferers for instance get great relief from consuming locally produced honey. “We envisage that this concept will be rolled out nationally to honey producers around the country,” he said.

Active Irish Honey is currently involved in a market research study and Daly says the response from consumers has been phenomenal; “We conducted consumer testing at the Donegal Taste Festival at the end of August and we were blown away by the interest from the public and the hospitality sector. We were delighted to win the Best Product Award and we’re looking ahead to moving the product and concept to market.”

The expertise provided by IT Sligo in the process has been invaluable, he says; “Getting the scientific verification for the product is vital and we are so fortunate to have some of the country’s most experienced researcher in this area located on our doorstep. The access to academic expertise through the innovation Voucher Scheme is a powerful resource for any start-up business.”

As well as the Innovation Voucher-funded research at IT Sligo, Active Irish Honey has also received 50 per cent grant funding from the Donegal Enterprise Board and support from Letterkenny Institute of Technology’s CoLab.


Limerick natives Patrick and John Collison’s Silicon Valley start-up Stripe has the potential to transform the plumbing of e-commerce globally and after signing up thousands of businesses large and small around the world they’ve launched the platform in Ireland today.

Ireland is the fourth country – and first Eurozone country – in which Stripe has launched at this stage and intends to shake up the established order of payment solutions currently “dominated by lumbering incumbent banks.”

The company’s technology provides functionality to make it easier for website owners to enable transactions, getting rid of the long drawn-out shopping cart approach and making payments as seamless and easy as buying apps or content on an iPhone.

For more information click here