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Mastitis is the major problem in dairy farming. This disease, caused by bacterial infection of the cow udder, is a major source of morbidity and causes approximately €2 billion of losses in Europe each year. Currently conventional antibiotics are used to treat bovine mastitis, however this is an unsatisfactory solution as antibiotics may not effectively treat the disease. Additionally farmers must discard milk both during and following treatment, to prevent antibiotic residues entering the foodchain.

In 2007 a Westport-based Animal Health company, Mayo Healthcare, approached NUI Galway to find a solution to this problem. They obtained an Innovation Voucher from Enterprise Ireland and with the help of the Technology Transfer Office at NUI Galway, they entered into a research programme with researchers in the Department of Microbiology.

Fast forward 7 years and a new start-up company, Westway Health, has been established to commercialise this research. Westway Health is headquartered in the Business Incubation Centre at NUI Galway, having taken on their first full-time staff. From this initial research conducted at NUI Galway, a promising treatment for mastitis which allows farmers to sell milk during treatment, is due to enter clinical trials next year with a market launch planned for 2017. With support from NUI Galway, both from the researchers and the Technology Transfer Office, the company has grown since its establishment, and in November 2013, they were the overall winners of the InterTradeIreland All-Island Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition, beating over 300 other companies to win the first prize of €100,000.

Westway Health Chairman, Prof Vincent O’Flaherty (L) receiving the InterTradeIreland All-Island Seedcorn Investor Readiness Competition Winner’s Trophy from Mr Thomas Hunter McGowan of InterTradeIreland.

Dr Ruairi Friel, Commercialisation Executive, Technology Transfer Office, NUI Galway: “The success of Westway Health is an excellent example of entrepreneurs working together with scientists in an Irish university to form a new company, create jobs and a develop a truly disruptive technology with major economic potential. We have worked closely with the company in the past and hope to continue this collaboration in the near future through such schemes as the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership, where Westway Health with the help of NUI Galway, can continue to grow as a company and develop further commercial products”.

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