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Queen’s success at prestigious INVENT 2017 award

Phion Therapeutics, a Queen’s spin-out company developed by Professor Helen McCarthy from the School of Pharmacy, was the overall winner of INVENT 2017.

Professor McCarthy's prize package includes £13,000 and one of the sought-after spaces on the NI Tech Mission to California in January 2018.

The INVENT competition, organised by Connect at Catalyst Inc, aims to search for Northern Ireland's next breakthrough invention and this year there were 144 entries across six categories. To get to the final, entrants had to compete through several challenging rounds of pitches, assessed by independent expert judges.

Professor McCarthy spun out her drug delivery technology earlier this year, together with independent entrepreneur David Tabaczynski and QUBIS. Phion Therapeutics is the result of 11 years of extensive research involving protein fragments called peptides that could have a significant impact on the pharmaceutical industry and revolutionise how drugs are delivered to parts of the human body.

When asked about Phion Therapeutics, Professor Helen McCarthy said:

"Phion has been able to concentrate various anionic drugs into tumours while preventing delivery to normal or healthy tissue and cells. This is potentially revolutionary for the treatment of cancer. The list of potential applications is almost limitless. As Phion engages with more pharmaceutical companies, we expect to discover even more drug classes that could be applied to our technology."

Other Queen's winners included:

  • Kegomagic, brainchild of Electrical Engineering students Connor McGurk, Connor Carville, Donovan Campbell, Patrick Devlin, Bryan Murphy and Aaron Rath, won the Agri Science category

  • Evy, created by students from the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Niamh Tohill, Andrew Cunningham, Vincent Kearney, Nathan Steenson and Matthew Whiteside, won the Electronics category

Both category winners received £2,500 and a place on the NI Tech Mission.

DITACA, which is concerned with securing distributed critical systems via the cloud and was led by staff from CSIT also made it to the final twelve.