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One of Ulster University’s spin-off companies has been named overall winner of INVENT 2021, Northern Ireland’s most exciting and challenging competition for entrepreneurial early-stage businesses.

StimOxyGen is a cutting-edge cancer treatment technology company developed at the Ulster University Coleraine campus. This technology enhances the effects of cancer treatment by overcoming the problem of hypoxia in solid tumours.

It uses oxygen generating nanoparticles to generate transient oxygen within solid tumours and has the potential to improve the efficacy of many cancer treatments and transform patient outcomes across the world.

As the overall winner, StimOxyGen, took home a prize package of £26,000 from a total prize fund of £47,000.

Sian Farrell, co-founder and chief scientific officer of StimOxyGen, said:

“Six years of research and development has already gone into our technology, so we are delighted to have its potential recognised by INVENT. Our team is passionate about changing the outcomes for cancer patients and delivering higher standards of care worldwide.

“Our ultimate ambition is to revolutionise cancer treatment and improve outcomes for patients on a global basis and winning INVENT will help us take the next step towards achieving that goal.”

In addition to the main awards, 10 finalists took to the stage at ICC Belfast to give a live one-minute elevator pitch to win £1,000, with the audience voting StimOxyGen the winner of best pitch.

The winner of the Student INVENT competition was announced as Gabrielle Feenan from Ulster University, who has developed Korkki, a business that designs and makes innovative cork furniture.

Kerry McGarvey, programme manager at INVENT, said:

“Congratulations to Sian and all of this year’s winners and finalists. It was fantastic to feel the energy from NI’s innovation community coming together again at the live final but also to know it was also being streamed by many more supporters locally and in other parts of the world at the same time.

“The finalists are all companies that are trying to solve real world problems and the variety of different ideas that were covered in this year’s competition has shown, if proof were needed, that innovation continues to be in the DNA of people here in Northern Ireland, which bodes well for the future of our economy.”

Ulster University’s SAFEWATER research programme also reached finalist stage in the product category. This technology provides a simple to use Internet of Things portable device for determining faecal contamination of drinking water for use in rural communities without access to labs.

Niall Devlin, Head of Business Banking Northern Ireland at Bank of Ireland UK, headline partner of the Invent Awards, said:

“Sian and StimOxyGen demonstrated commitment, passion and belief towards realising their ambition in bringing their life changing cancer treatment technology to market. They are a prime example of why Northern Ireland is a leading worldwide location for innovation and Life and Health Sciences businesses. StimOxyGen are making their innovative research a commercial reality, bringing together talented entrepreneurs, world-class research and great collaboration between industry and academia. Seeing such determination and vision from all of the INVENT 2021 participants show what an inspiration our local entrepreneurs are both locally and globally to business and the wider community.”

We are so proud of these innovative, future focused start-ups and the people and work that has gone into them. Well done to our students, alumni and staff who are involved.

More details and video of the awards can be found at