Six firms have their eyes on the prize
Six Northern Ireland companies are battling it out this week at the regional final of a major all-island competition.
The firms are the provincial finalists in InterTradeIreland's Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition on Thursday.
The tightly-fought competition supports new start and early-stage companies and has a total cash prize of €280,000 (£199,300).
This year's finalists, who compete in two categories, are hi-tech businesses hoping to impress judges with their innovative ideas.
The six finalists are:
New Start category
Cardinal Analytics: The Belfast firm, founded by Dr Mark Fletcher, has developed a system for predicting the failure of US corporate bonds, with the potential to save millions of dollars.
Photonic Measurements: Also based in Belfast, the firm makes devices to measure the quality of water using chemical content, murkiness, organic content and colour. The company intends to start selling into Europe at the beginning of next year. It was founded by Vincent McCorry and Dr Connor Douglas.
Sci-Leads: The firm, which was set up in September 2014 by Daniel McRitchie, has come up with a system to enable sellers of medical devices to target their efforts. It has global ambitions and has early customers in the UK, Germany and the US.
Early Stage category:
Senergy Innovations: The firm has a developed a patent-pending solar thermal collector made from polymer plastics instead of the traditional glass and metal components. The company, which is led by Christine Boyle, hopes to become a pioneer in the growing solar heating market. It says its products can "completely change the way we heat our homes and buildings".
ProAxsis: The company captures, detects and measures the "active biomarkers" which are the first signs and signals for a number of diseases. It's a life sciences company, established by Dr Lorraine Martin and Professor Brian Walker. The company's main focus is on research and development but it also launched its first product in July, and is now making money.
Modern Democracy: The Londonderry firm, led by Siobhan Donaghy, produces mobile applications to encourage people to feel more involved in politics, including a voter engagement app, and a polling station app. The company also provides consultancy services for elections. It's targeting central and local government in the UK initially but has already provided its consultancy services in Europe and the Middle East.
The winner of each category will take home a €20,000 (£14,000) cash prize and will go on to the all-island grand final later this month, where they will compete for the overall top prizes of €100,000(£71,000) and €50,000 (£35,000).
Each company will now benefit from an intensive one-day investment pitch master class to help polish their presentation skills. Following the regional finals, the successful regional winners will then be invited to pitch to a panel of judges at the all-island final which will take place in Dublin on Wednesday, November 25. The two overall winners will be announced that evening at a gala awards ceremony.
The next stages of the competition can be followed on Twitter (@ITI_seedcorn) and on the website www.intertradeireland.com/seedcorn.
System Ready in Belfast was a regional winner in last year's Seedcorn competition. This year's regional final takes place on Thursday. Margaret Hearty of InterTradeIreland presented the award to Simon Lloyd-Lavery from System Ready, which devised an app for personal trainers