CÚRAM Partnership: €54M secured from SFI and Horizon Europe

CÚRAM and Catalyze have shared a highly successful partnership since 2018. In this interview we met with Iain Shaw, Operations Director at CÚRAM, to learn more about the development of CÚRAM, and the lasting collaboration with Catalyze along the way.

The CÚRAM Centre at the University of Galway. Image: NUIG


Established in 2015, CÚRAM, based at the University of Galway, aims to enhance global health outcomes through smart medical devices. Catalyze and CÚRAM’s partnership began in 2018 with our strategic support towards CÚRAM securing a €30M Science Foundation Ireland grant. Later, Catalyze created a Strategic Funding Plan, and subsequently co-developed 13 proposals to Horizon Europe calls, securing €24M with up to 75% success rate. Now in 2024, Catalyze project manages and provides science communication for several CÚRAM led Horizon Europe projects, and delivers ongoing strategic consultancy as CÚRAM defines its future.


The evolution of a world-leading medical device research centre

Established in 2015, CÚRAM is an Irish research centre based at the University of Galway, aiming to radically improve health outcomes for patients by creating and translating clinic-ready and patient focused ‘smart’ medical devices and implants. The centre is driving the development of the next-generation of industry-relevant, publicly engaged researchers, while becoming an anchor for industry applicable research. As a Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre, CÚRAM is funded by SFI in six year cycles, with its trajectory divided into corresponding phases – CÚRAM Phase 1 (2015-2020) and the current phase, CÚRAM Phase 2 (2021-2026).

Iain begins, “I came on board as Operations Director in 2016, one year after CÚRAM had launched. At this stage we needed to build the brand, effectively, and build capacity, to bring in high profile investigators and also industrial partners – we brought in 45 companies overall. I have a large team of people split into teams for commercialisation, grant writing, EU engagement, public engagement, and general operations.”

“Invaluable” support towards securing €30M+ SFI grant

With each CÚRAM phase, CÚRAM develops a new strategy and approach. During CÚRAM Phase 1 the institute was focussed on fundamental research. Now in Phase 2, the focus has progressed to translational research. As Iain explains, his role after joining was to help redevelop their Phase 1 strategy for the next phase.

Iain explains, “After three years we needed to prepare the current CÚRAM Phase 2 application and try to redevelop the strategy – we needed something more extensive. Part of that was developing a business plan and strategic roadmaps and we decided we needed external help on that. On the recommendation of another colleague in the University, we enlisted the support of Catalyze who came in and started working on the business plan and impact statement for CÚRAM. That was invaluable.

“The way that Catalyze handled that project in terms of scope, internal resource, helping define the strategy, and keeping us to deadlines was something we really needed. It worked very well for us and it was obviously very good, because we were awarded the Phase 2 centre by SFI, which was a €30M+ non-dilutive exchequer grant (national governmental funding).”

Iain Shaw, Operations Director at CÚRAM

Developing a Strategic Funding Plan

CÚRAM’s Phase 2 funding commenced in 2021 with strict KPI’s requiring they bring in an additional €6 million in EU funding per year. During the 2021-2027 funding cycle, for every €1 million provided by SFI, the SFI Research Centres needed to match it with €1 million from industry and €1 million from additional funds like non-exchequer, non-commercial sources.

To address this challenge, Iain got back into contact Catalyze. “At the end of 2021, the first year of Phase 2, we were behind in meeting our EU funding target and needed to develop a strategy as to how we were going to approach this. We asked Catalyze to develop a Strategic Funding Plan to attain funding from non-exchequer, non-commercial sources.”

Iain continues, “This was very useful for us as Catalyze brought a deeper knowledge of funding programmes than we had, so programmes came up in their report that we just didn’t know about. The perfect example of this is the Horizon Europe Resilience call.”


“A lot of people heard about our success in these Horizon Europe calls… we had taken what is being widely reported as an EU programme with very low, 5-7%, success rates, and turned that into a 75% success rate.” 


€24M awarded by Horizon Europe

Resulting from the Funding Strategy Plan, CÚRAM further engaged with Catalyze. Subsequently, multiple teams in Catalyze were engaged in collaboration with a number of CÚRAM’s Co-Directors and Investigators to co-develop the proposals.

“There were 13 applications that went in off the back of the work by Catalyze and we pulled in €24 million in EU funding, including €7.8 million for CÚRAM. We won three of our four applications to the Horizon Europe Resilience Call, which had a budget for 7 projects. For us it was absolutely fantastic, because it was a scheme we didn’t know about, and Catalyze guided us through it. They knew it was an opportunity that was less well-known, so they said we should go for it. The fourth application we ended up winning one of the highly competitive Horizon Europe 2-stage projects (Restore Vision).

“A lot of people heard about our success in these Horizon Europe calls. I was telling people, that we had taken what is being widely reported as an EU programme with very low, 5-7%, success rates, and turned that into a 75% success rate. The money now allows us to do the science. What was really nice as well, is one of the projects is Prof Abhay Pandit’s (Scientific Director – CÚRAM) ELR-SCAR, which is a great follow-up on work which has been done internally, and now was awarded €4.5 million funding from the European Union. Catalyze is also a Project Management partner in that project.”


“I was genuinely blown away by the scale and effectiveness of that collaboration… At the time I hadn’t realised the depth of the expertise that Catalyze has.” 


Collaborating with the wider Catalyze team

Reflecting on the extensive work carried out throughout 2021-2022 towards CÚRAM’s Horizon Europe successes, Iain recalls his reaction to the unfolding partnership as more and more of the Catalyze team became involved.

“I was genuinely blown away by the scale and effectiveness of that collaboration to be perfectly honest. At the time I hadn’t realised the depth of the expertise that Catalyze has. Now it’s one thing I really like about working with Catalyze. The diversity that Catalyze can bring – there’s always a team of high quality individuals for what you need. That has been incredibly useful.

“We went from Catalyze developing the strategy, to Catalyze assisting in writing the grants, to Catalyze actually being written into the grants delivering project management. That for me was a great win as well, to have enabled people to be able to build further on our initial strategy.”


“We view that Catalyze has been fundamental in what we’ve done over the past seven years, in the time that we’ve done it.” 


Renewal of CÚRAM: creating a new institute

Today, Iain is defining a new strategy for the application to SFI for the next phase of CÚRAM, due September 2024, ahead of the new centres starting in January 2026. For this, SFI requires all existing SFI Research Centres to renew themselves as a new centre, with a completely redefined focus and strategy.

Iain comments, “The first six years was about technology development, the next six years was about translational aspects – and at that point we went from 120 projects down to 16 projects, each developing a prototype device. In the next phase, the centre will be focussed on touching the patient.”

Here the collaboration continues. Catalyze’s Strategy team held two strategic workshops with Principal Investigators at CÚRAM’s summit in 2023.

Iain continues, “Catalyze brings strength particularly to the sections on execution, impact and delivery. We view that Catalyze has been fundamental in what we’ve done over the past seven years, in the time that we’ve done it. I think there will continue to be a role for Catalyze as we move forward.”

The next phase of CURAM: enhanced healthy aging through medical devices of the future

The central theme for CÚRAM’s next phase is how to develop medical devices that make healthcare more sustainable for the future, with a focus on healthy aging.

Iain says, “The way Healthcare is being delivered globally is not sustainable, both in terms of access, cost, and all these things. One of the problems is that elderly patients currently need to be in hospital far too often. We need to improve remote monitoring to remove burden from the inpatient system as much as we can, while also being able to alert people when they really need to be in hospital.

“One area we are looking at is cancer. We can make a big impact here because the cancer field hasn’t had many medical devices being developed. This is something myself and Abhay (Scientific Director) wanted to get to – having cancer brought into the new centre. The strategic sessions we held with Catalyze helped our teams to align on this vision.”

CÚRAM’s key to success

To finish, we ask Iain what he thinks makes CÚRAM so successful. Iain says, “I can absolutely tell you what that is, and we’re very proud of it. It’s the diversity of the centre. And I mean diversity in all aspects of diversity. That is what has brought us success.

“There is also fantastic energy at CÚRAM, and Prof. Abhay Pandit drives that energy. He himself is a world renowned scientist. His scientific excellence has actually grown since he became the Director. That is very unique – he is leading by example. The whole team shares that energy and that is what continues to drive me in my role as Operations Director.”


Visit the CÚRAM website 


About Catalyze

Catalyze is an innovation consultancy offering services to develop effective strategy, procure (non-) dilutive funding, ensure successful project delivery, and more, for clients working in the fields of life sciences & health, and green & sustainable innovations. Driven by a belief that the most meaningful innovations deserve the best chance to succeed, Catalyze has established itself as a key player in the innovation ecosystem, headquartered in Amsterdam and operating worldwide. To date, Catalyze has raised more than €1 billion in funding for its clients, built a network ecosystem of more than 2500 partners, and manages a €300M+ project portfolio.



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