Abcon

How Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre helped Abcon to break new markets

“You need to be constantly selling and expanding your customer base. You can’t depend on a particular country or territory or one big customer.” 

Lyn Sharkey, Abcon Sales and Marketing Director

Overview:

  • Sector: Design and Manufacturing
  • Markets: Germany, France, UK, Nordics, Eastern Europe
  • Supports:  Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre
  • Goals: To increase exports to mainland European countries
  • Challenges: Abcon needed help identifying and accessing people in key EU markets
  • Results: Abcon has transitioned from  a company whose exports were almost all to the UK to trading in multiple European markets

Case Study: Abcon

A decade ago, the UK was effectively Abcon’s entire export market, says Lyn Sharkey, the company’s Sales and Marketing Director. While Abcon had focused on increasing exports to other markets over the past ten years, Brexit accelerated its efforts.

Abcon

Working with Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre helped Abcon to pinpoint new markets with the potential to grow the business and to gain expert insights into how to compete in them.

Based in Cootehill, Co. Cavan, the Abrasives and Industrial Hose Manufacturer currently employs 155 people. Its Industrial Hose Division markets its goods under the CavMac brand, which Abcon acquired in 2007 and serves sectors including oil and gas, mining and aggregates, food and beverage, and portside services and dredging. The Abrasives Division serves totally different sectors including stainless steel fabrication, joinery, aerospace, and automotive. Exports are hugely important to both.

A number of Market Research Centre supports helped Abcon to increase exports to European countries. These included independent and reliable information from blue-chip providers, such as Gartner, Frost & Sullivan, Mintel and others, databases of potential leads and prospects, guidance on the right trade events to attend, and in-market knowledge. 

Sharkey emphasised that obtaining such information would have been much more difficult without the help of the Market Research Centre.

With a high volume of sales driven by internet searches, accurate information about the names of products in local languages is essential to underpinning successful international digital marketing tactics. Assistance with learning how its products are described in the languages of key overseas markets proved to be one of the most useful services.

 

Support for moving beyond the UK as your sole export market

Long before Brexit made diversification a matter of urgency, Abcon understood that relying on a single market, or a small number of large customers, was a risk. Sharkey says, “We are very conscious that, over the years, some customers for whatever reason come and go. You need to be constantly selling and expanding your customer base. You can’t depend on a particular country or territory or one big customer.”

While the opportunity to enter new markets is one every ambitious Irish company should consider, authoritative market research is critical to such business decisions. With support from the Market Research Centre’s information specialists, Abcon realised that a strategy of increasing exports to countries beyond the UK would help the company to grow and diversify the business. 

Over the last ten years, we have been steadily growing export sales to territories outside the UK, because initially the UK was our only export market.” explains Sharkey.

The UK, nevertheless, remains an important market for Abcon, accounting for 27% of turnover.

 

Dipping into Deutschland

In recent years, Germany has become an important market for the business. Sharkey offers some advice for other Irish companies aiming to increase exports to the Eurozone’s largest economy: “Know who your target customers are. You have to visit them, attend the shows. We recommend staying in touch with the Enterprise Ireland office in that territory because they can let you know about appropriate events to attend and give you an insight into how that market operates. At International Markets Week, the team told us about events they host, to which companies backed by Enterprise Ireland can invite potential customers. It’s all about relationships at the end of the day. You need to get in front of the customer and understand what they need.”

Germany is not Abcon’s only European market. Its CavMac division engages in significant volumes of business across the Nordic countries. Other important markets include the Netherlands, Italy, France, and the Czech Republic.

While none of these markets are primarily English speaking, Abcon’s experience has been that the need to hire staff with native language skills varies depending on the territory.

In central and eastern Europe, where English isn’t as widely spoken, it’s definitely helpful that we have Russian, Polish and Latvian speakers in our company.” says Sharkey.

The Market Research Centre helps companies backed by Enterprise Ireland to explore opportunities and to compete in international markets. If your company is considering breaking into new markets, struggling with Brexit or dealing with thorny strategic issues, the Research Centre’s extensive resources and expertise should be your first port of call.

Sharkey strongly recommends that companies similarly positioned take advantage of this support, concluding: “I definitely would. First of all, it’s a free service to client companies. You’re not paying for lists that may be out of date, as can be a risk elsewhere. Their information specialists work to keep them updated and the searches are quite versatile. The support you receive from the Market Research Centre is really helpful. The team can help you to understand and refine the searches. They want to make sure you go away with a meaningful list. Their customer service is really good”.

 

Key takeouts:

  • Working with the Market Research Centre helped Abcon to find new markets and to decide how to compete in them.

  • Supports accessed included independent and reliable information from blue-chip providers, such as Gartner, Frost & Sullivan, and Mintel, databases of potential leads and prospects, guidance on the right trade events to attend, and in-market knowledge.

  • Help with learning how its products are described in languages of overseas markets was one of the most useful services received.

Read more on the supports available to help your business diversify into new markets or speak to your Development Advisor today.

Cubic Telecom is Helping Germany’s Biggest Carmakers to Drive Forward

“Enterprise Ireland is always extremely helpful in terms of providing meeting space and setting up partner meetings, finding out beforehand who we want to make contact with and enabling those briefings at the show.” Gerry McQuaid, CCO Cubic Telecom

Overview:

  • Sector: IoT
  • Markets: APAC, China, Europe, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East
  • Supports: Trade Missions & Events, International Office Network

Case Study: Cubic Telecom

In an always-on world where consumers expect instant access to information and experiences, car manufacturers are clamouring to ensure that 24/7 connectivity is provided behind the wheel — and Dublin-based Cubic Telecom is supplying the solution.

Cubic’s global connectivity platform PACE enables cars and other devices to automatically connect to high-speed local mobile networks around the world. The company is a fully licensed mobile services provider powering high-quality connectivity worldwide for global manufacturers, including six brands within Volkswagen Group, e.GO Electric Vehicles and Panasonic Automotive, among others.

Not to mention, Cubic’s connected car solution supports 2.5 million cars in 93 markets globally, with capabilities across Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East, Russia, Africa and Asia-Pacific.

“Our focus spans wider than the Irish market,” reveals CCO Gerry McQuaid, who has been part of the Cubic Telecom team from its beginning in 2009. “Obviously we support the sale of our partners’ products in Ireland but we are focused on the global market and we have had that global focus from the start.”

But scaling internationally requires more than identifying a global customer base and Gerry says Enterprise Ireland’s assistance has been critical in helping Cubic to forge strategic partnerships every step of the way.

 

Powering global connections

When Cubic Telecom made its first foray into the international market, it was with a SIM card that let travellers make low-cost phone calls from anywhere in the world without incurring huge roaming charges. But the company soon switched gears to focus on creating technology that would connect any device to the internet while abroad and in 2012 took part in a major trade mission to China, helmed by Enterprise Ireland and then Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

“Enterprise Ireland helped to arrange private meetings in China with the Taoiseach which gave a fantastic boost to our fledging profile in China,” Gerry says, noting that the trip ultimately helped to cement our business relationships with Qualcomm, Lenovo and China Unicom.

At the same time, demand for vehicle connectivity was on the rise. Automakers wanted to transform cars into infotainment centres on wheels and Cubic Telecom’s technology, which is embedded at the manufacturing stage, could enable standardised vehicles to offer connected services anywhere in the world.

“We’ve always attended MWC and exhibited as part of Enterprise Ireland’s pavilion stand. That’s where we meet our customers, prospects, mobile operator partners, technology partners and important industry analysts every year,” Gerry says. “We are delighted with the support provided to us by Enterprise Ireland in regard to exhibition stand facilities and the arrangement of key meetings ahead of each event.”

Cubic’s first auto contract was with German car giant Audi, which was looking to provide its drivers with a fully digital experience — something that traditional mobile operators were struggling to achieve.

“We were delighted to partner with the leading automotive brand within Volkswagen Group and this partnership has been an intrinsic part of developing our business success in Germany,” Gerry says.

As a result, Germany is one of Cubic’s biggest overseas markets.

“It’s important to point out that we did not select Germany as a generic target market,” Gerry says. “Instead, we looked at the world’s biggest automotive manufacturers and decided which companies we wished to build a partnership with. This naturally led us to Germany, the home of some of the world’s top auto manufacturers. We were very careful to take the time to understand what is required to do business successfully with large prestigious German companies and we had excellent support from the Enterprise Ireland team in Germany.”

Enterprise Ireland still works closely with Cubic Telecom to support its continued growth in other international markets.

“As well as being part of Enterprise Ireland’s pavilion at MWC Barcelona annually, last year we participated with Enterprise Ireland in MWC Americas in Los Angeles for the first time. That proved to be a great success,” shares Elaine Murray, Cubic Telecom’s External Communications Manager, adding, “Enterprise Ireland is always extremely helpful in terms of providing meeting space and setting up partner meetings, finding out beforehand who we want to make contact with and enabling those briefings at the show.”

Besides trade shows and networking opportunities, Cubic Telecom is often invited to sit on conference panels hosted by Enterprise Ireland, which Elaine describes as “integral” to the company’s exposure in foreign markets. Gerry agrees: “We’re always more than happy to participate because it’s a win-win situation.”

Brazil, Brexit and beyond

One of the next stops on Cubic’s path to world domination is Brazil, a notoriously tough nut for non-Brazilian car manufacturers to crack in terms of IoT connected device services.

“We have received excellent advice from Enterprise Ireland to assist with setting up our local presence in Brazil,” Gerry says. “Like in Germany, we align ourselves with the markets that our customers have prioritised. As all of the world’s major automotive companies want to sell connected cars in Brazil, we prioritised establishing a unique locally compliant solution for global automotive and IoT companies there.”

Speaking of complicated, while the UK is not a dominant market for Cubic, it is an important one for many of the company’s customers.

“If you’re driving on the motorways in the UK, most of the cars are German-built cars, so Brexit does have a concern for us in terms of what’s going to happen to the ease of doing business but we’re not as exposed as other companies because we are used to dealing with complicated market conditions around the world,” Gerry says.

His advice: Irish companies must reduce their dependence on the UK market, regardless of the Brexit outcome.

“Any Irish company that’s trying to do business in overseas markets has a very valuable resource that is always there to help in Enterprise Ireland,”

“Start by considering the needs of the customer you are selling to, what solution you are selling, who you need to sell it to and what markets those target customers are in. Then leverage the Enterprise Ireland regional offices to get introductions to the people in that market who you need to meet.”

Read more on the supports available to help your business diversify into new markets or speak to your Development Advisor today.

 

How France Became Mullan Lighting’s Biggest Export Market

Mullan Lighting has come a long way from its humble beginnings in traditional pub and church lighting. Revenues are expected to reach over €5 million by the end of 2019 and the main reason for Mullan’s growth is that it exports 80% of what it manufactures.

Edel Treanor, Mullan Lighting, Marketing Director

Overview:

  • Sector: Design & Manufacturing
  • Goals: To double the company size, to get the factory operating at full capacity, and to create long-term employment for local people.
  • Challenges: Mullan wanted to start exporting new markets but needed help identifying potential opportunities.
  • Results: In just six years, Mullan’s annual revenue has increased from €100,000 to €5 million — 80% of which are exports.

Case Study: Mullan Lighting

Mullan Lighting’s Bright Idea

Monaghan-based Mullan Lighting has designed and manufactured bespoke solutions across the commercial, hospitality, retail and residential sectors, counting everyone from Caffe Nero and Costa Coffee to global multinationals Google and LinkedIn as clients.

Founded in 2009 by architect Mike Treanor, the company now employs 65 people in its manufacturing facility inside a former shoe mill in the heritage village of Mullan. It sells in more than 55 countries worldwide and expects to reach over €5 million in sales by the end of 2019. But it wasn’t plain sailing from the start.

“For the first couple of years, it was a lot of groundwork — Mike was on the road, knocking on doors — and very little return. We knew we had to start looking further afield,” explains Edel Treanor, Mullan’s marketing director, adding, “The economy in Ireland wasn’t great at the time and there weren’t that many projects happening — and for those projects that were happening, we were already getting the majority of the work but it wasn’t enough to sustain the business.”

That’s what prompted Mullan Lighting to become an Enterprise Ireland client in 2013 and their goal was three-fold: to double the company size in three to five years, to get the factory operating at full capacity, and to create long-term employment for local people. Achieving this would require stepping into new markets — and Enterprise Ireland’s support ensured that Mullan put its best foot forward.

 

Spotlight on France

“It’s much easier to talk to your neighbours than it is to talk to someone who’s in Dubai or Australia so we knew that if we targeted regions close to Ireland then we could be there quickly and we could respond to queries quickly,” Edel shares.

Working closely with Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre, Mullan identified France as the best Eurozone market to enter. Specifically, when the company developed a new children’s lighting range aimed at high-volume retailers, the MRC determined the market size for such products in France, highlighted key prospects to target and suggested trade fairs to attend.

As Edel says, focusing on France made sense: “Maison & Objet takes place in Paris and that’s one of the largest trade shows and markets for sourcing interior design, furniture and lighting products. Plus, Paris is seen as a design capital of the world,” she points out.

With the help of Enterprise Ireland’s Internationalisation Grant, Mullan began to dip into the French market help. The company attended Maison & Objet in 2013 to scope out their competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and hone their own value proposition — and soon their bespoke lighting creations were lighting up hotels and restaurants all over France.

“It took us about two years to really be comfortable in the market,” Edel reveals, noting that Enterprise Ireland’s support has been instrumental throughout the process, from setting up meetings with agents when they first entered the market to putting them in touch with Irish businesses who were already well established in France.

“Those [established] businesses gave us feedback on our marketing materials, our company presence, our distribution plan — everything. As a new brand entering the market, that insight was invaluable.”

Edel Treanor, Mullan Lighting, Marketing Director

Expanding into France also meant a website refresh and Enterprise Ireland’s Business Process Improvement Grant helped Mullan to make their online presence more user-friendly and appealing to the market.

“We also realised that we needed someone on staff who could speak to the client in their language so in 2015 we hired our first full-time native French speaker to help develop the market for us,” Edel adds.

Mullan is on track to do around €800,000 in sales in France this year. To ensure the company hits that mark and continues its growth trajectory within the market, several clients — and one prospect — recently travelled to Mullan Village as part of an Enterprise Ireland inward buyer visit.

“We figured it would be really good to show them exactly what we do and how we do it,” Edel says, adding that the visit included a trip to Castle Leslie to see some of Mullan’s creations up close as well as to the iconic Cafe en Seine in Dublin, the company’s largest bespoke project of 2018. “No one recognised any of the lights because they’re not in our catalogue and it was great for the buyers to see the level of bespoke work that we can do.”

Needless to say, the trip was a success: Mullan has since received orders from each of the visiting buyers, even the prospect.

 

Next steps in Mullan’s growth journey

Mullan Lighting has come a long way from its humble beginnings in traditional pub and church lighting. Revenues are expected to reach over €5 million by the end of 2019 — a massive increase from its first-year turnover of €100,000 — and the main reason for Mullan’s growth is that it exports 80% of what it manufactures.

“Our business has absolutely been driven by international sales,” Edel says, noting that in addition to France, the UK, Germany, the Nordics and Iceland are Mullan’s other big markets.

“About 25% of our business goes to the UK, which is a significant amount, so we took part in Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit readiness programme and got advice from a consultant on what measures to put in place to mitigate the risk of what might happen if there is a hard Brexit.”

As Mullan is only 200 metres from the Ireland-UK border, part of that action plan included creating a UK company and setting up a base in Northern Ireland.

“If we can export to ourselves five miles up the road, hopefully we will inherit any customs delays instead of passing them on to our customers,” Edel explains, adding, “We’ve also identified hotspots where our UK clients are based and are considering opening another premises over there.”

Additionally, the company is hoping to further its presence in Germany and the Netherlands.

“We’re looking at markets that are nearby and have a lot of projects going on, with styles that are similar to what we can develop and manufacture,” Edel says. “The model and approach we’ve taken with France has really worked for us. We see that as something we can replicate in the German and Dutch markets with Enterprise Ireland’s help.”

Read more on the supports available to help your business diversify into new markets or speak to your Development Advisor today.

Agile support allows LaserTec KnightOwl to take flight

Basil Cooney, Lasertec

“We made the application for the Agile fund in early December of 2017, we got approved by early January and we were up and running in February.

Basil Cooney, Managing Director and Founder, LaserTec.

Key Takeouts:

  • Developing 3D technology meant breaking new ground for LaserTec and required a considerable amount of R&D. LaserTec contacted Enterprise Ireland about support for an R&D project around their plans and were advised to apply for the Agile Innovation Fund.
  • The Agile Innovation Fund application process made it much easier and quicker to configure what LaserTec needed and to get approval in a short time frame.
  • The new product has given LaserTec the ability to scale and solve multiple problems across multiple industries.

Case Study: LaserTec

LaserTec has always fostered a culture of innovation. Over 25 years in business, the Dublin engineering company has built an impressive reputation for excellence in electronic assembly tooling and process development. In particular, LaserTec has enjoyed outstanding success designing and manufacturing innovative test and automation solutions in the medical device and automotive industries.

Sometimes, however, it takes that little bit of extra support for a company to take the next big step. For LaserTec, that moment came when they decided to look into adding 3D capability to their services.

 

Focus on 3D gave LaserTec the power to scale

Basil Cooney, Managing Director and Founder of LaserTec, explains: “We use 2D vision in our applications for testing and quality checking components and parts on the production lines of our customers, but we wanted to start looking at adding that extra dimension of 3D capability.

“With 2D systems, you’re restricted in what you can measure – there’s X and Y but there’s no depth, so checking that certain components are in the right location, have the correct orientation, correct height is difficult to do. Also, our solutions are application-specific, so if you want to look at a different product or solve a different problem, you’re almost starting from scratch nearly every time because of the limitations of 2D.

“Scanning in 3D, having that extra dimension of depth, might not sound like that big a difference but it’s huge. It can measure depth and do different applications for you without having to devise a new solution for each process.”

 

Agile Innovation Fund helped LaserTec to break new ground

LaserTecHowever, developing 3D technology would mean breaking new ground for LaserTec and would require a considerable amount of R&D.

“We spent a year and a half just researching and looking at the different applications and the types of technology involved before we were able to say it’s possible for us to bring these applications across to our processes,” Basil says.

LaserTec decided that they would need to develop both hardware and software: a 3D sensor that could be incorporated into manufacturing production lines, and an app for mobile devices that could process and relay the information from the sensor.

This would mean a considerable investment, so LaserTec contacted Enterprise Ireland about support for an R&D project around their plans and were advised to apply for the Agile Innovation Fund.

The Agile Innovation Fund offers up to 50% funding to a maximum of €150,000 in grant aid for projects with a total cost of up to €300,000. Designed to make it easier and quicker for smaller companies to access R&D funding, Agile has a fast turnaround time for applications that results in decisions being made in weeks rather than months.

 

From application to project launch in two months

“We made the application for the Agile Fund in early December of 2017, we got approved by early January and we were up and running in February. The application process made it much easier and quicker to configure what we wanted to get done and get approval in a short time frame.” Basil says.

 

“We received €90,000 – 45% funding for our project. It allowed us to go and hire resources, additional staff, to develop the product. We wouldn’t have been able to do that without Agile

Basil Cooney, Managing Director and Founder, LaserTec

 

Developing the power to scale

John Traynor, R&D Director at LaserTec, says that the goal for LaserTec is for the company to develop a product which, for the first time, can be scaled.

“Technically, we’re very good at LaserTec but our problem was that we were doing a lot of custom solutions that couldn’t be scaled easily. There was a lot of commonality but not enough that you could really scale them.

“Now we’re designing a product for a wider audience, one that can be used for many applications across a number of industries. Instead of developing a product to solve a specific problem for a customer, we will be putting intelligence into their machines and production processes with this technology, so that it can solve multiple problems across multiple industries.”

“You’ll have the 3D sensor and you’ll use the app to tell it what to look for, and it will do just that. But that same sensor and same software algorithm can then be used very differently to scan, measure and provide guidance on a variety of other parts.

The next step for LaserTec is to start testing their new technology, named KnightOwl 3D, with customers.

John adds: “We’ve identified the market, done the research and have been developing the technology. The next stage will be to prove the technology, to engage with customers and get good insight into what their problems are and how we can solve those problems.

“You can sit in an R&D lab until the cows come home but unless you’re out there talking with customers, you’re not really getting real insight into the problems they’re facing.”

After 25 years, the desire to innovate and solve problems still burns brightly at LaserTec.

 

Learn how the Agile Innovation Fund can support your R&D ambitions.

Firefly puts best foot forward with Agile R&D funding

 

“Without the Agile Innovation Fund, we just wouldn’t have had the capital to get the ball rolling on our R&D project. The funding has been central to streamlining our in-house processes and developing the app.

Conor Lynch, Marketing and Sales Lead, Firefly Orthoses

Key Takeouts:

  • Firefly needed to streamline in-house processes and systems and invest in the development of new technology that would increase the speed and range of products they could supply.
  • Firefly recognised that support could help improve efficiencies and turnaround times by digitizing processes with the development of a bespoke solution.
  • Support from Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund is helping Firefly to reduce its reliance on third-party contract manufacturers, allowing the company to grow their margins while delivering faster turnaround times to customers.

Case Study: Firefly Orthoses

While success is what all companies strive for, it can also present challenges for a growing business. That was the case for Sligo company Firefly Orthoses, who, after 16 years had grown to employ over 20 people, designing, manufacturing and supplying custom-made foot orthoses. Its range of mostly UK customers included podiatrists, the NHS, sports clubs such as Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC, and British military Regional Rehabilitation Units.

Firefly was founded by podiatrist Martin McGeough in 2003. Martin has close to 30 years’ experience in clinical biomechanics and orthotic therapy. During his career, he has provided podiatric advice to a number of Premier League football teams, in addition to lecturing in podiatry at Trinity College Dublin and mentoring podiatrists internationally.

Firefly needed to invest time and resources to improve their internal ordering processes. The company also wanted to develop new technology that would increase the speed and range of products they could supply.

 

Agile innovation allowed Firefly Orthoses to leverage the potential of 3D printing technology

Conor Lynch, Marketing and Sales Lead at Firefly Orthoses, explains: “The company had grown since it was founded around 2007 and we were solving in-house problems as they came along. We had a lot of short-term fixes building on top of one another. Our in-house order processing system was becoming quite complicated and we were working off multiple spreadsheets to record and document all our order processes. As staff numbers increased, these systems became almost unmanageable, so we needed a software solution to streamline all our in-house processes and systems.

“We also wanted to harness the development of 3D printing technology for our customers, including creating an iPad app for our podiatrist customers to make it easier for them to scan and submit measurements and order products.

“Currently, our customers capture their patient’s data, the shape of the foot, by creating a plaster of Paris cast or using a foam box. The podiatrist would then send the cast of the patient’s foot or the foam box with the impression of the foot and we would manufacture the products from that model.

“Our products are already an exact match for the anatomy of each client, but there is tremendous scope for improving efficiencies and turnaround times by digitizing the whole process. We knew there were solutions out there and we also knew that we needed to research and develop a bespoke solution for our own needs.”

 

Support from Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund

Firefly looked at various grant schemes from different organisations before deciding to apply to Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund for support for their R&D programme in January 2018.

The Agile Innovation Fund offers up to 50% funding to a maximum of €150,000 in grant aid for projects with a total cost of up to €300,000. Firefly was approved for 45% funding shortly after applying in January 2018. However, the quick turnaround of their application wasn’t they only advantage of Agile.

Enterprise Ireland was able to tell us what was and wasn’t going to work in terms of the criteria for funding the project,” Conor explains. “We knew what we wanted to achieve, we knew what goals we wanted to arrive at, but we weren’t quite sure of the steps that we needed to take to get there, so having that support during the application process was really helpful.

“Agile gave us a huge amount of control over how we wanted to spend the grant. We were able to hire a software developer and a research and development manager to lead the project. It made the pathway towards achieving our goals much clearer.

Firefly is now beta testing their app and 3D printing prototypes. The final step will be bringing their products to full 3D printer manufacturing and the company is in discussions with large industrial 3D printing operations throughout Europe to find the most suitable partner.

Firefly’s customer base is 90% in the UK and 7% in Ireland, with the remainder being occasional orders from places like Sweden or Spain. However, many of Firefly’s products have an extended turnaround time because they come from third-party contract manufacturers in Canada and the US. Conor says that this will change by moving to 3D printing, with significant benefits for both Firefly and its customers.

He comments: “Agile funding is helping us achieve the goal of producing our own products and reducing our reliance on third-party contract manufacturers. This will allow us to grow our margins, while our customers will benefit from faster turnaround times. Before the end of the year we would hope to be printing products for customers

“Over time, we also intend to develop novel design features within our product range that are not currently achievable using traditional manufacturing processes.

“Without the Agile Innovation Fund, we just wouldn’t have had the capital to get the ball rolling on our R&D project. The funding has been central to streamlining our in-house processes and developing the app.”

 

Learn how the Agile Innovation Fund can support your R&D ambitions.

p3 hotels CEO

Agile Innovation funding helped p3 Hotels to develop a core product that is scalable

Phelim Pekaar

“We found it simpler than the R&D to apply, and the approval came faster as well.”

Phelim Pekaar, CEO, p3 Hotels

Key Takeouts:

  • Support from Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund enabled p3 Hotels to develop a scalable product that could be rolled out to multiple customers.
  • Approval allowed them to allocate the full €100,000 project cost, with €50,000 provided by the Agile Innovation Fund and €50,000 by p3 Hotels.
  • Investment in innovation has helped p3 Hotels to grow revenues from €700,000 between 2008-2016 to a projected €1.2m this year.

Case Study: P3 Hotels

 

Securing a contract to develop innovative booking engine integrated with the property management software for Ireland’s largest hotel group was just the opportunity p3 Hotels CEO Phelim Pekaar had been looking for.

After years of successfully supplying hotel groups with custom-designed ecommerce software solutions, Phelim wanted to develop a scalable product that p3 Hotels could roll out to multiple customers. However, it would take significant resources to research, develop and test such a product.

Phelim explains: “We came to Dalata [Hotel Group] with a design of how we thought the booking engine should really look. It was a fresh design for the user interface and we also pitched the idea of online check-in. The response was really positive – they loved the online check-in and we won the contract.”

p3 Hotels decided to build the software solution and sell it to Dalata on a license fee basis, as opposed to being paid a project fee, which also meant that p3 Hotels would have to fund the development costs.

 

Simpler and faster Agile Innovation application process

Phelim spoke to Enterprise Ireland about research and development support. “We had done an R&D grant and a business improvement grant with Enterprise Ireland before and this time I was advised to do the Agile Innovation Grant,” he says. “We found it simpler than the R&D to apply, and the approval came faster as well.

“It meant that we were able to allocate the full €100,000 that this was going to cost us to build – €50,000 from p3 Hotels and €50,000 from the Agile Innovation Fund.

Apply for the Agile Innovation Fund now.

“We were able to do the project properly; we didn’t have to cut corners. We had six people involved in the project, we did user testing, we designed the screens, we talked to four hotels about how they did the check-in process.

“Our ecommerce solutions for hotel groups have to communicate with a central reservation system called Opera, which is owned by Oracle. We got the engineer from Opera over to our office for two days and we went through all the APIs of how this works.

“The product went live in two Dalata properties last July and has since been rolled out to another 24 hotels.”

The Agile Innovation Fund offers up to 50% funding to a maximum of €150,000 in grant aid for projects with a total cost of up to €300,000. It is designed to make it easier and quicker for smaller companies to access research, development and innovation funding. Agile’s main feature is its fast turnaround time, with an application process that results in decisions in a few weeks rather than several months.

The innovative approach p3 Hotels took carried an element of uncertainty. However, it wasn’t the first time that the company had shown the courage to do things differently. Since 2009, p3 Hotels hadn’t gone after any new business that was not a hotel but had maintained existing contracts with customers in other sectors. By 2016, these contracts still accounted for almost 30% of their revenue but Phelim took the tough decision to end all non-hotel contracts in order to focus exclusively on winning customers in that sector.

He says: “That was really hard – it was a big risk – but it was absolutely the right decision because before the money stopped coming in from our last non-hotel contract, we had already replaced it with a new large hotel group, Britannia Hotels.

“It’s serendipitous, isn’t it? The minute you let something go, your focus is different, and you allow new opportunities to come along. In the next two years we won five new hotel groups, doubling the number that we had.” says Pekaar.

The approach p3 Hotels has taken to achieving growth through innovation is paying off. The company’s revenue, which flatlined at €600,000 to €700,000 from 2008-2016, is projected to reach €1.2m this year.

The support of the Agile Innovation Fund has been instrumental in this growth. Phelim says: “Agile helped us turn our whole development process on its head. It provided the resources that meant we could develop a core software product that is scalable – one that can be rolled out to new customers. Previously, our work was all custom-built for individual customers.”

“We now have a very aggressive growth plan to target hotel groups in the UK, Europe, and the US. Oracle is now recommending us because of the value we bring to their Opera system. I would say that we were instrumental in Dalata rolling out Opera throughout all their hotels. We’ve also been instrumental in a number of other hotels staying with Opera when they go to a retainer process. Our hotel clients know that if they move away from Opera, they lose us – and we add so much value to the rest of their business.”

Apply for the Agile Innovation Fund now.

Irish start-up Hidramed aims to revolutionise wound care with innovative product

“I think Ireland is a great place to be a female entrepreneur. There are so many networking opportunities and great support. It’s just a case of finding it and using it.

Suzanne Moloney, Founder and CEO, Hidramed Solutions

Key Takeouts:

  • Need for a solution to a medical issue led to the development of an innovative wound management system.
  • Mentoring helped progress to happen quickly.
  • The right support is essential to success at every phase of the journey, from prototype to launch and beyond.

Case Study: Hidramed

Finding a solution to a problem leads to the development of innovative and vital products – or to put it another way, necessity is the mother of invention. One Irish entrepreneur who embodies this phrase is Suzanne Moloney, whose very real need for a solution to managing her medical issue led to the development of a new and innovative wound management system, HidraWear.

HidraWear is the first product from Hidramed Solutions, and was developed with the support of Enterprise Ireland, which has announced a new €750k Competitive Start Fund (CSF) for Women Entrepreneurs, opening for applications on 25 June 2019. Suzanne herself was the recipient of a grant from a previous round of the CSF for Women Entrepreneurs, and believes that it is this type of support that helps the growth of women in the business world. “I think Ireland is a great place to be a female entrepreneur – there are so many networking opportunities, great support – it’s just a case of finding it and using it.”

 

Hidramed Solutions was inspired by patient frustrations

Suzanne was inspired to start Hidramed Solutions and develop HidraWear when she found that her own frustration at managing her medical condition was shared by other patients. “I have a condition called HS, or hidradenitis suppurativa. It’s a debilitating disease of the skin that affects at least 1% of the population globally, and it’s incurable. It causes lesions in the skin in places like the armpit and the groin, quite sensitive areas, which would need to be covered with a bandage. I was a chef and a baker and quite physically active in my work, and to keep a dressing on my thigh or armpit would be virtually impossible – they’d just fall off due to the moisture in the area and the fact that these areas are not flat surfaces and need to move in multiple directions. I’ve come across other HS patients improvising with sanitary towels and kitchen paper – there was literally no solution there for HS patients.

Hidramed documentation“I found myself spending far too much time on trying to manage these dressings. The straw that really broke the camel’s back was when I attended a friend’s hen party and was talking to the groom’s mother. I was shaking her hand and a dressing just fell out of my dress. I always had this idea to develop some sort of solution and that just spurred me on to really find something that worked for HS patients.”

After initial work with a product designer that didn’t progress, Suzanne decided to try again, this time with the help of Enterprise Ireland. “I applied for a co-funded Innovation Voucher to develop a prototype with design experts at NCAD.”

The result was HidraWear. “The product removes the need for using adhesive on the skin, which can damage the skin around the lesion if you’re constantly putting bandages on the area, causing medical adhesive-related skin injuries (MARSI). We’re also giving back control to HS patients by making changing a dressing quick, painless and easy. It’s very discreet and convenient too.”

“It’s a Class one medical device, so the regulatory burden is quite low, which means we can roll it out to other countries relatively quickly.” says Moloney.

The product is scheduled for launch towards the end of 2019, initially in the UK and Irish markets, but the plan is to roll it out quickly into the US and throughout Europe. We are beginning with an armpit solution and then moving onto products for other areas of the body quite quickly. But we also plan to be a support system for HS patients – we want to help, not just be a dressing company.”

 

Getting support from prototype to launch

Going from prototype to launching a working product is a long journey, but Suzanne did the research and found plenty of support along the way. “We received a grant from the CSF for Women Entrepreneurs in 2018. We also received invaluable advice and guidance along the way. Through the mentoring programme, we were paired with Aileen McGrath, who is a marketing expert and highly skilled in ecommerce – which was really vital, as we are selling directly to the consumer, an unusual approach for a medical product.

“I made some mistakes at the start but once I got the right advice, things began to happen for me very quickly – particularly when I was accepted on the BioExel Medtech Accelerator Programme at NUI Galway, which is backed by Enterprise Ireland. This was a six-month programme that taught me everything I needed to know about developing a medical device and developing a business.”

Once the first product is launched, growing its distribution and developing more products are the next items on Suzanne’s list.  The company plans to sell direct to consumer to begin with but is developing reimbursement strategies for the UK and USA, with plans to sell into healthcare channels too.

“We also have a whole series of products planned for the future, for example, adhesive-free bandaging for elderly patients, venous leg ulcers and pressure sores. Our market entry point, however, is through HS.”

Enterprise Ireland’s €750,000 Competitive Start Fund (CSF) for Women Entrepreneurs is open for applications between 25 June and 16 July 2019. Under this CSF, up to €50,000 in equity funding is available to a maximum of 15 successful women applicants with early stage start-up companies. In addition, up to 15 of the successful applicants will be offered a place on Dublin BIC’s INNOVATE accelerator programme.

 

Founder & CEO Pharmapod

Pharmapod leads the way in reducing medication errors and improving patient safety

“You need to be completely dedicated to finding the solution, and you need to sacrifice a lot. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, you just have to have that fire in your belly.

Founder and CEO, Leonora O’Brien

Key Takeouts:

  • Leonora O’Brien’s career as a pharmacist alerted her to issues regarding patient safety.
  • Pharmapod aims to be a worldwide solution to a global problem.
  • Local support has been invaluable for launching internationally.

Case Study: Pharmapod

If it takes a village to raise a child, as the saying goes, what exactly does it take to start and build a worldwide business? Support, dedication and even more support, says Leonora O’Brien, the founder of Pharmapod, a cloud-based system that aims to reduce medication errors by allowing healthcare professionals to record and share information with other healthcare professionals both within their country and globally.

“To succeed you need to make sacrifices and be dedicated to your business; it’s not for everyone,” she says. “There is support out there but you have to do the groundwork to find it. It’s up to you and your team to see what’s available and position yourselves to avail of it.”

 

Pharmapod offers a worldwide solution for a global problem

Pharmapod was established in 2012 with help and financial support from Enterprise Ireland, which has announced a new €750k Competitive Start Fund (CSF) for Women Entrepreneurs, opening for applications on 25 June 2019. The company aims to address what Leonora identified as a very real issue globally.

“Throughout my career as a pharmacist, I became aware of the issues regarding medication and patient safety,” Leonora explained. “At the same time, there was a growing legal obligation on pharmacists to record and analyse the risks to their patients. There was no solution in place, and being a chief pharmacist at Ireland’s biggest pharmacy chain at the time, I found that not having a system for recording patient safety issues was a real barrier for us as an organisation, and for the sector in general to learn and improve.

“You come across these issues on a daily basis, in pharmacies, hospitals and nursing homes, from the minor to the major, and many of these are preventable – we really needed a system that allowed healthcare professionals to learn from each other. Pharmapod is really fulfilling a need in the sector.”

The issue, Leonora says, is a global one – and Pharmapod is aiming to be the worldwide solution to the problem.

“To date, Pharmapod has been primarily active across three countries – Ireland, the UK and Canada – but we have recently signed a partnership agreement with the International Pharmaceutical Federation, The FIP, who has 144 members organisations internationally. We’re now starting to work through the different geographical regions with the FIP – for example the Middle East is a key focus area right now. No country is exempt from the issue – for instance, medical error is the third-leading cause of death in the United States – so this is a solution for a global issue.”

 

Global growth followed success in Ireland

The system grew steadily from its beginnings in Ireland – the secret to its success, Leonora says, is a great team dedicated to the solving the problem. “We launched initially onto the Irish market, and had some really excellent, brave and innovative pharmacists in Ireland who understood the benefits of such a system and took it on at an early stage. We have 30 people on our team now, and we are constantly evolving the system, keeping our ears to the ground for changes in regulations and responding to feedback and new requirements from users.”

A key turning point was the launch of Pharmapod into Canada. “At the moment, 58% of community pharmacies in Canada are using Pharmapod – and that number is growing. Ontario mandated for the system to be used in 2018; they have 45% of the pharmacies in the whole of Canada, but we already have pharmacy groups using it on a pan-Canadian basis too.”

Having local support has been invaluable when launching internationally, says Leonora – and this is where Enterprise Ireland came in. “We went for the Competitive Start Fund at the start of the business, and all the way through, Enterprise Ireland has been a great support to us. The Canadian office was fantastic when we were launching in the country, giving us advice on the local market, supplying contacts and connections, and including us in local activities. They really are an extension of your team, a great support for companies expanding internationally. They’re so well informed and helpful, an invaluable resource.

“Initiatives like the CSF for Women Entrepreneurs are addressing a real issue that’s still there. We have to remember, this is not only helping fix things for women, in terms of effective supports and role models, it’s benefitting the economy as a whole,” says O’Brien.

“For us, having that government backup has been really helpful. It lends weight to our offering and adds to our credibility in the eyes of customers and potential investors who might not have been familiar with the company before.”

Leonora’s experience has taught her that the support is there if you look for it. “I believe the biggest barrier is in your mind. You need to be completely dedicated to finding the solution, and you need to sacrifice a lot. Not everyone is prepared to do that. It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman, you just have to have that fire in your belly.”

And for female entrepreneurs, the business world has never been more accessible or attractive. “In a very short period of time, we’ve made a lot of progress, and a lot of that is down to us as a country shining a light on the issue. Initiatives like the CSF for Women Entrepreneurs are addressing a real issue that’s still there; fixing this issue will not only benefit the economy as a whole, but will also help the next generation in terms of female role models – and very quickly the world can change in that way.”

Enterprise Ireland’s €750,000 Competitive Start Fund (CSF) for Women Entrepreneurs is open for applications between 25 June and 16 July 2019. Under this CSF, up to €50,000 in equity funding is available to a maximum of 15 successful women applicants with early stage start-up companies. In addition, up to 15 of the successful applicants will be offered a place on Dublin BIC’s INNOVATE accelerator programme.

CEO 4site

How 4site engineers innovate

“We are design-led. It’s a unique selling point. We bring innovation to every project we do.”

Ian Duggan, CEO 4site

Key Takeouts:

  • 4site is a leader in the design, survey and installation of fibre networks.

  • The company has fostered a culture of innovation, learning and knowledge-transfer.

  • Success is driven by cost-efficiencies and speed made possible by innovative design.

  • Enterprise Ireland’s Grad Start funding supported the employment of graduate engineers to meet the challenges of a quickly changing sector.

Case Study: 4site

4site is a leader in the design and roll out of large-scale fibre network systems, the gold standard for digital connectivity. Founded in 2003, the company is based in Limerick, with offices in Dublin and the UK, and has approximately 80 employees. 

Starting out as an engineering firm, run by and employing engineers, 4site is committed to a culture of innovation with new, imaginative design solutions that give the company a competitive edge.

“If I were to offer advice to start-ups in the sector it would be to diversify – don’t be too dependent on a particular capability.” 

 

Innovation at 4site

This is reflected in the recruiting and training of graduate engineers, supported by Enterprise Ireland’s Graduate Business Growth (Grad Start) and Job Expansion Funds.

Enterprise Ireland’s support helped expand the number of employees and establish an in-house Fibre Planning Programme tailored to the skills 4site requires. Employees are mentored, attend weekly training sessions and are encouraged to contribute new ideas through an Innovation Forum. In 2018, Engineers Ireland acknowledged 4site’s excellence in CPD through its Accredited Employer Scheme.

 

“One of the most successful parts of our business is getting young, enthusiastic graduates who contribute a wealth of new ideas. They always have a faster, better way of doing things and within six months, they are really fantastic additions to the organisation.” 

 

The ‘4Survey’ app, introduced in 2017 and developed in partnership with Esri, the international supplier of geographic information software, was a product of the Innovation Forum. No more marking maps by hand, taking photos on a handheld device and filling in spreadsheets, which are then taken separately to a central office. The app does it all, transferring complex survey data straight to the design team via the internet. The survey process is now 50% faster, more accurate and more cost effective.

A further innovation is the use of the latest drone technology. Drones highlight solutions not readily available from ground level – for example, carrying out an asset inventory check on a 40m tower, gauging the safety of a rooftop before accessing it, or eliminating the need for permits and mobile platforms at the roadside. Cost and disruption are kept to a minimum, while health and safety risks are minimised by reducing the need for working at height.

This approach has garnered impressive results. A leading provider of fibre network in the UK is blue chip firm CityFibre. 4site recently won the contract to design CityFibre’s new networks in the UK cities of Huddersfield and Coventry. This contract is 4site’s biggest yet and is worth in excess of one million sterling. CityFibre has ambitious plans to provide fibre to five million homes across 12 UK cities.

In 2017, 4site provided survey and design services to develop a 5G-ready network for the Scottish city of Aberdeen. 4site also fitted a network of ‘small cell’ sites connected to existing fibre and power services. Small cells are unobtrusive and cost-effective installations, ensuring excellent wireless and mobile phone coverage particularly suited to the densely populated urban environment.

With over a decade’s experience of major network infrastructure projects, 4site has acquired a reputation for excellence. This year, they were only the second Irish company accepted to the FTTH Council of Europe. They have also achieved ISO certification in environmental management, quality management, and health and safety, as well as acquiring a list of major clients including Vodafone, Cignal, Huawei, Three, Nokia, Ericsson, O2, Eir and Siro.

Duggan recognises that quality and reliability are also important factors in their success, “I think it’s trust that builds strong relationships with our customers, and the fact that we can do things faster and cheaper than our competitors.”

 

How support from Enterprise Ireland helped 4site to succeed

Advice from Enterprise Ireland resulted in a greater emphasis on sales and marketing, and a restructuring of the management team, Duggan explains, “Enterprise Ireland encouraged us to rebrand and invest in full time sales and marketing managers.  We have built a strong leadership team in the organisation – that has been key.”

“Enterprise Ireland’s advice and support were transformative for the business.” 

4site also made use of Enterprise Ireland’s Business Accelerator Funding scheme to expand into the UK market with offices established in Reading in 2012.

 

The future for 4site

Europe is only just beginning to promote fibre networks with countries such as the UK, Ireland, Italy and Germany trailing behind. According to the 2017 FTTH Ultrafast Broadband Country Ranking the UK has approximately 3% coverage. The market potential therefore is vast.

 

Learn how Enterprise Ireland can support your Innovation project here.

T.E. Laboratories maximising commercial benefit of IP

“Enterprise Ireland’s IP Strategy programme has made a fantastic impact. It’s going to change the landscape of how we handle IP.”

Breda Moore, Technical Director, T. E. Laboratories

Key Takeouts:

  • T.E. Laboratories is evolving from primarily providing environmental and oil analysis services in the Irish market to developing novel, game-changing analytical sensors and instruments for customers worldwide.
  • Enterprise Ireland’s IP Plus Strategy programme and Lean Plus programme have had a dramatic impact on the company’s approach to product development and IP protection.
  • T.E. Laboratories is now moving to commercialise a range of new environmental analysis products, initially targeting the US market.

Case Study: T.E. Laboratories

T.E. Laboratories Ltd, based in Tullow, Co Carlow, started life in 1991 carrying out fuel analysis. It still does; but the company is now entering new territories, with future growth set to be driven by hi-tech product launches, based on novel intellectual property (IP) developed in-house or via technology transfer from international partners.

“We have enjoyed iterative growth from the start, becoming an accredited environmental laboratory and a chemical manufacturer as well as Ireland’s only specialised oil analysis laboratory,” explains Technical Director, Breda Moore. Clients include multinational pharmaceutical and other manufacturers as well as local authorities, utilities and fleet operators.

“Specialist analytical and chemical manufacturing services are set to remain important pillars of our business. But our future growth projections are based on the company evolving as a leader in developing advanced sensors and analysers for environmental and oil applications.

“Moving into a purpose-built building, in 2010, with a dedicated R&D laboratory for new product development, was a key milestone. Our focus changed from doing more of the same to being quite expansive about product development, looking at things that we might have previously considered too big a challenge, either financially or knowledge wise, with the aim of producing a significant number of new products in a relatively short time.”

T.E. Laboratories now employs 50 people, including seven full-time researchers in the R&D lab, which is the engine room for new product development. The lab is 75% funded through EU collaborative research projects (such as Horizon 2020 and Framework programmes), allowing this relatively small company to punch above its weight in innovation terms.

Protecting intellectual property

Now, with R&D projects delivering tangible results, the challenge of maximising the return from this output has come sharply into focus.  

“We are starting to generate significant levels of IP both internally and in collaborative projects. As these products get closer to market, thinking strategically about their commercialisation becomes important, making us realise that, up to now, we hadn’t given IP enough attention,” explains Moore. 

For T.E. Laboratories, then, the recent launch of Enterprise Ireland’s new IP Strategy programme was perfectly timed. The pilot programme provides companies with financial support towards the cost of engaging an external IP advisor to help them develop an IP strategy to secure the maximum return from their RD&I activities, and, in the process, strengthen their in-house IP management capabilities.

“Through the IP Plus Strategy programme, we’re putting in place a formal process to cover the IP that we’ve already generated so that we can leverage maximum benefit from it, and we’re also looking at the IP we’re starting to produce to identify the best strategy for protecting that,” says Moore.

“For example, we’ve reviewed all the default agreements in our European projects to see how they can be improved, and we’ve examined how we can capture IP in our labs and where we can derive a commercial advantage. It’s all about putting procedures in place to handle IP in a consistent way; whereas before it was very reactive.

“The advice we’ve received from the IP attorney has made a fantastic impact in a short space of time. We can see that we have an awful lot more to do, but the IP Plus Strategy programme is going to change the landscape of how we handle IP.”

New product development

Among TelLab’s developing IP portfolio are a new breed of environmental sensors, which Moore describes as “game changers”.

“We believe we are leading the field in low-cost environmental sensors with our Aqua Monitrix device, which offers real-time, remote monitoring of water quality,” she explains. “We see massive potential in the US market.”

One of TelLab’s Aqua Monitrix prototypes is currently competing in a nitrogen sensor challenge, coordinated by the US Environmental Protection Agency.  If it can meet performance goals during onsite testing, the prize for TelLab will include an order of 200 units and a performance verification report.

“It’s an exciting time for us,” Moore says. “I believe this product range will change the company by an order of magnitude.”

Intertwining a focus on Lean and IP

Dovetailing with the focus on IP protection, T.E. Laboratories recently completed Enterprise Ireland’s Lean Start programme and is now working through Lean Plus to achieve increased competitiveness and productivity across operations.

“We’re particularly interested in applying Lean to our new product development activities. This will enable us to bring products that are successful at the research phase to the market as efficiently as possible. We will cut out unnecessary steps, concentrating on features that add actual value to the end user, and designing with Lean manufacturing in mind,” explains Moore.

“For us, the Lean and IP Strategy programmes are going to cross over significantly in some areas, and we see that as having a hugely beneficial impact,” she adds.

“As we bring these products to international markets, we will continue to use Enterprise Ireland’s global network of offices, and we anticipate significant benefits arising from the IP Plus Strategy and the Lean Plus programmes.”

Learn more about Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation supports here.

Nuritas uses cutting-edge technology to find new ways of fighting disease

“Nuritas is addressing the world’s growing healthcare needs through bioactive peptide discovery, fuelled by its proprietary AI platform that operates with industry-leading speed and accuracy.”

Nuritas CEO, Emmet Browne

Key Takeouts:

  • Nuritas is harnessing the power of AI to discover peptide-based therapies for global unmet medical needs with unprecendented speed and success rates.
  • One of the company’s products is currently undergoing human clinical trials to test its ability to prevent the onset of diabetes.
  • Founded by Dr. Nora Khaldi, the company has attracted numerous multinational partners including BASF and Nestlé.

Case Study: Nuritas

Nuritas, a company supported by Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-Ups (HPSU) unit, harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to mine the data within food sources to identify and unlock bioactive peptides with the potential to prevent and treat disease. The company’s proprietary AI-based drug discovery platform operates with industry-leading speed and accuracy to address the world’s growing healthcare needs.

Traditional drug discovery (within the pharmaceutical or consumer health industries) is becoming ever more costly with the chances of success decreasing yearly. Alternatively, Nuritas begins its process by identifying a target condition that currently lacks safe and effective treatment options. Nuritas works best in a truly collaborative partnership with companies that have a clearly identified medical need and a need to rapidly accelerate the identification of a novel treatment or preventative action.

CEO Emmet Browne explains, “Our platform is rooted in three key steps: target, predict and unlock. We start by targeting an unmet medical need, often identifying conditions that may currently be deemed undruggable. Our proprietary AI platform intelligently mines the dormant peptides that exist in safe, plant-based food sources. These possess extraordinary potential to elicit a positive clinical effect on the targeted condition. Our in-house wet lab then unlocks the peptides from the source protein and fully characterises the activity profile of the peptide to validate its activity. This data is fed back into the AI platform, making it smarter and continually improving the already unparalleled accuracy and success rate of our peptide discovery platform.”

 

Stopping disease in its tracks

One of the company’s most exciting developments is the discovery of a peptide for the prevention of diabetes. The peptide has the potential to maintain blood sugar levels and prevent the onset of the condition. The drug-candidate is currently undergoing clinical trials to evaluate safety and efficacy in pre-diabetes.

CFO Greg Stafford said, “Diabetes is a massive global epidemic, with more than 400 million people suffering from the condition. We have the potential to make an extraordinary impact on the incidence of diabetes as Nuritas has identified and unlocked bioactive peptides with the potential to prevent this condition. We are honoured to have received a multimillion euro Horizon 2020 grant from the European Commission to support the development and commercialization of the product.”

Inspiring leader

Nora Khaldi, Ph.D. is the founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Nuritas. Dr. Khaldi founded the company in 2014, with a vision to apply her background in mathematics, computational biology, microbiology and bioinformatics to help solve some of the greatest challenges in human health. Since launching in 2014, Nuritas has grown rapidly and received multiple awards including the Innovation Award at the Forbes Reinventing America Summit in 2015, recognising the global impact that Nuritas’s technology will have on the future of food and health. In 2017, Dr. Khaldi was named Woman of the Decade in Business and Leadership at the Women Economic Forum (WEF) European Union Event and received the Rising Star prize from the Tech Excellence Awards.

At the core of Nuritas’s objectives is engagement in truly collaborative partnerships. The company combines the strength of a partner’s disease space expertise with Nuritas’s strength in peptide discovery, leading to phenomenal success in the development of effective therapies. Among the company’s ongoing partnerships are BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, and Nestlé, the world’s largest player in the food and beverage industry.

 

“We provide meaningful value to the organisations we work with due to the nature of our approach. We are able to identify and develop bioactive peptides for any target or indication based on the needs of our partners in the pharmaceutical, consumer healthcare and linked industries. The companies we partner with have global reach, possessing the ability to get our products to the consumers and patients who need them most across the globe.” said Browne.

 

Invaluable guidance from Enterprise Ireland

Enterprise Ireland supported Nuritas in its Seed and Series A funding rounds. Browne said, “Enterprise Ireland’s investment was not just limited to their financial support. The organisation cares about our business and is committed to the advancement of our technologies. Since Enterprise Ireland’s involvement, they have been part of our progress as our AI-based peptide discovery platform now operates with a 66%+ success rate and is continuing to improve.”

Mr. Stafford said, “We are delighted to have the support of a globally respected organisation. Enterprise Ireland’s involvement is a testament to the promise of our AI-based discovery platform and the organisation’s involvement has been instrumental as we advance our technology.”

The company has just opened an office in Cambridge in the UK and has plans to open one in an East Coast US location in the coming months. Browne commented, “There are key centres for us around the world where we are already deeply active. These would include the US, Europe, and Asia Pacific, specifically Japan and China. We look forward to continued and accelerated growth as we expand our reach around the globe.”

 

Reaching globally from Ireland

Nuritas currently has a wet lab in UCD and an office near Pearse Station in Dublin city centre; but, the company is combining the two in a new facility on Dawson St. Browne said, “Combining our lab and offices into a single facility in the heart of Dublin is a very deliberate decision. The synergy of our AI platform and in-house wet lab is what makes Nuritas’s approach to drug discovery unique. Being able to join the multidisciplinary teams in the same physical space will only add to the success and accomplishments of our highly talented scientists. In addition, with space for 150 employees, we now have the space to grow our team. A space in the city center will allow for a workplace that is as vibrant and stimulating as the Nuritas team.”

Stafford added, “Companies such as Nuritas are a testament to an environment that provides for growth and innovation. Ireland at present is a hub for companies with ground-breaking technologies, and we intend to remain proudly rooted in Ireland as we emerge as a serious contributor on a global level in discovering life-changing solutions for the world’s growing healthcare needs.”

 

Learn more about Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation supports here.

KTL Lean transformation

When KTL targeted growth, they focused on competitiveness

KTL Lean transformation

“..agility can come at a significant cost to the bottom line. Lean allowed us to optimise and standardise most key business processes.”

Niall Byrne, Director KTL

Key Takeouts:

  • KTL is a leading provider of engineering services to the telecommunications and utility sectors.
  • By implementing Enterprise Ireland’s Lean transformation programme, KTL has increased turnover by 30% in the last four years.
  • After standardising their customer acceptance process, KTL allowed customers to onboard solutions much faster and more efficiently, which vastly improved their competitiveness.

Case Study: KTL

Enhanced competitiveness has enabled engineering services firm KTL to achieve significant gains in both turnover and profitability. Since implementing an Enterprise Ireland-supported Lean transformation programme four years ago, turnover has increased by 30% to €40 million, while 1.5% has been added to net margins.

The Naas-headquartered company currently employs 300 people and is recognised as a leading provider of engineering services to the telecommunications and utility sectors, working primarily with mobile network operators, electricity network operators, and major equipment vendors. With operations in Ireland and the UK, KTL’s reach extends to projects in Europe and Latin America.

“We came from small beginnings,” says Director, Niall Byrne. “The company was founded in 1998, as a small civil contractor working out of a house and yard in Maynooth with 15 people. We started out just as the mobile networks were beginning to take off and we were well positioned to serve that market. I’m not sure if we fully realised that at the time. Digifone was our first mobile network customer and we added Vodafone shortly after that. We then moved into power infrastructure.”

Today, KTL works with leading blue-chip clients in the UK and Ireland, including Vodafone, Three, Telefonica, EE, ESB, Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), and SSE Renewables.

“We see ourselves as a design and build partner for our customers when they are upgrading their networks or installing new technologies,” Byrne points out. “Our focus is on delivering value to customers. We have been an innovative company since we started and have always looked for ways to improve. We began working with Enterprise Ireland in 2008, when we were starting out on our international journey. We worked with them on market research and feasibility studies at that stage.”

Plans for growth inspired focus on operational excellence

In subsequent years, Enterprise Ireland also assisted the company in the implementation of growth plans.

These growth plans led the company to seek ways of improving its competitive position. “We stood back and took a look at the business and at our competitiveness and capability,” Byrne adds. “With the support of Enterprise Ireland, we embarked on a LEAN transformation programme in 2014. We had always tried to be an agile company. We have to be, because we work in a very fast-moving sector. But that agility can come at a significant cost to the bottom line. Lean allowed us to optimise and standardise most key business processes.”

The best example of the benefits of the Lean programme is the customer acceptance process, according to Byrne. “On the face of it, it’s different for every customer and project. It’s a highly complex, 100+ page document for each individual site, of which there are thousands in a mobile network. Anyone who has experience of it will tell you how challenging and time-consuming the whole process is. But when we looked at it and peeled the skin off, we saw how much of it could be standardised. We figured out an innovative approach to it and we also developed a software tool, Infratrack, to do it.”

That sped up the process greatly for KTL and allowed customers to onboard solutions much faster and more efficiently. Other benefits of the Lean transformation programme included a significant reduction in site visits, a 14.7% reduction in expenses through the introduction of a fleet management solution, a 13% reduction in employee turnover, and a 35% reduction in lead time in various processes within the business, including invoicing and purchase order generation.

“It improved our competitiveness, and that enabled us to acquire additional customers and improve our profitability at the same time,” says Byrne.

For the future, he believes that ongoing growth in the mobile market, with 5G coming down the line and continued network renewal by the power companies, will deliver opportunities for the company. “We will continue to develop our fantastic team,” he adds. “We are a service company and our competitive position relies on a talented, experienced, loyal pool of people. We are nothing without our fantastic team. Enterprise Ireland has also been a key part of the team, which enabled us to internationalise and expand the business.”

Learn more about Enterprise Ireland’s Competitiveness supports here.