Horizon 2020 – MiniStor – supporting the development of clean and efficient energy

“Taking part in a Horizon 2020 project is a good way to progress not only as a researcher but also personally in terms of management skills. I’ve found the whole experience to be very enriching.”

Dr Carlos Ochoa, Co-ordinator of the MiniStor Horizon 2020 project

 

Overview:

  • Tyndall National Institute in Cork is leading an international consortium that is developing an advanced, compact, integrated solar-powered system that stores heat in a novel way.
  • The project is being significantly funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.
  • The project is on course to achieve its first milestone of completing a preliminary design by July 2020.

 

MiniStor case study

If two heads are better than one then it goes without saying that multiple research centres, universities and specialist companies working together can achieve more than one. That’s the philosophy that underpins the Horizon 2020 programme. The European Union’s research and innovation instrument has an €80 billion funding pot and is supporting consortia across Europe to transition great ideas from the laboratory to the market.

One of those great ideas is the MiniStor project, the brainchild of Dr Carlos Ochoa of the International Energy Research Centre, which is based at Tyndall National Institute in University College Cork in partnership with Cork City Council.

“In basic terms the MiniStor project is about storing heat from the sun to use later. The heat is captured via renewable energy sources such as solar panels and then stored in special salts, making it much more energy efficient than water-based systems,” explains Ochoa.

The project aims to significantly decrease energy consumption in residential buildings, reducing their overall environmental impact.

 

Building the team

“When I read the Horizon 2020 call for technologies enabling energy-efficient systems and energy-efficient buildings, I made a preliminary sketch of my idea and then we considered what the scope of the project would be and started looking for scientific partners who could help us make the idea a reality,” says Ochoa.

“We needed particular expertise so we began contacting people via websites and LinkedIn to get them interested in the idea. We got help from Enterprise Ireland and the Tyndall European Office to find and contact some key partners.  

“In the end we found 17 other institutions across eight countries who were interested in working with us. Then we were ready to respond to the competitive call.”

 

Applying for Horizon 2020 support

The process of applying for Horizon 2020 support is sometimes perceived as being complex and onerous but, as Dr Ochoa explains, there is plenty of help available.

“It’s true that preparing the application is very time intensive but there are support services available. Nationally, Enterprise Ireland leads the Horizon 2020 support network and their support was excellent in terms of reviewing the main idea to determine if it had some potential; that’s like a reality check. They were also able to give advice on what’s required in the application documentation,” says Ochoa. “I also had a lot of support from within the Tyndall National Institute.”

The application was a success and the project received funding of over 7.5 million, some 87% of its total budget.

“Without Horizon 2020 support this project could not have gone ahead. We may have been able to do something at a much smaller scale but we wouldn’t have had access to the same amount of expertise,” says Ochoa.

 

The experience so far

Ochoa has been a participant in Horizon 2020 projects before but this is his first time as co-ordinator.

“Being the co-ordinator for an international project that has so many participants can be challenging because everyone has their own working style and their particular corporate culture so you have to balance the needs of the partners with the needs of the project. So far it has been working well and we’ve been able to iron out any small issues that have arisen,” says Ochoa.

Now six months into the project the team are closing in on achieving their first milestone – the preliminary design for the MiniStor system.

“It’s not a trivial achievement because all these components have not been combined before.”

Unfortunately the advent of the Covid-19 crisis and ensuing lockdown has impacted on the project. “We have slight delays because we have some demonstration sites, which are actual homes in different countries around Europe. The restrictions are preventing us from entering the houses to do monitoring. So that’s pushing back the timeline for a few months,” says Ochoa.

 

Advice to others

Dr Ochoa is keen to encourage other researchers to apply to Horizon 2020 or its successor Horizon Europe (2021–2027), an ambitious funding programme that will be larger than Horizon 2020 and will begin to roll out next year.

“It’s a good way to progress not only as a researcher but also personally in terms of management skills, which are required if you are aiming for more senior positions. I’ve found the whole experience to be very enriching. Of course it takes a lot of time and effort but it pays off,” says Ochoa.

“My experience of interacting with Enterprise Ireland has been very positive. If you have a question about Horizon 2020 or Horizon Europe they know very well what’s going on and can provide advice, and they are also very ready to give us talks explaining the scope and opportunities presented by EU programmes.”

 

For advice or further information about applying for Horizon 2020 support please contact HorizonSupport@enterprise-ireland.com or consult www.horizoneurope.ie

 

Portwest – targeting new markets with GradStart

GradStart

 

Bringing linguistic graduates onboard allowed us to bring in talent that could research Spanish and French speaking territories, and open opportunities for our sales teams, which contributed to our target of 20% growth.

Deirdre Clarke, HR Manager, Portwest

Overview:

  • Portwest is a market leader in the design and manufacture of stylish, comfortable, high-quality workwear that meets recognised international standards.
  • With customer support staff in over 120 countries, the company used Enterprise Ireland’s GradStart initiative to attract fresh graduate talent with French and Spanish language skills to research new markets and drive business activity.
  • The GradStart programme offers salary support of up to 70% for the employment of graduate talent to assist companies when expanding into new markets.

 

1. What attracted you to get involved in GradStart?

We are very fortunate to have a great Development Advisor (DA), who consistently keeps us informed of programs which may be of benefit to our specific business. As we had already taken part in the similar G4IG program, we felt that GradStart would be another fantastic initiative from Enterprise Ireland to help with the development and international growth of our business. At that time we were also in the process of developing a formal Portwest Graduate Program. The timing was ideal for us as GradStart gave us the additional option of introducing a linguistic element to this program.

 

2. What did GradStart allow you to do that you wouldn’t have done otherwise?

GradStart allowed us to provide opportunities to newly qualified graduates at our headquarters here in the West of Ireland, and to include a linguistic dimension to our commercial team which up to now was 100% English speaking. We now have two talented graduates with French and Spanish capabilities who are able to help us explore new market opportunities In particularly across South America and Mexico.

 

3. What challenges and/or opportunities did GradStart help you address?

We had struggled with the exploration of non-English speaking markets. Bringing linguistic graduates onboard allowed us to bring in talent that could research Spanish and French speaking territories, and open opportunities for our sales teams, which contributed to our target of 20% growth. In turn, this allowed us to provide further job opportunities in these regions as we were able to justify the recruitment of sales staff to follow through on the opportunities identified by our graduates.

 

4. Which areas of the business did the graduate contribute to?

Market research and explorative work in heretofore unexplored territories. This is ongoing and while GradStart partially funds the salaries for such graduates for a two year period, we would envisage the continuation of such due to the success of these roles and how the program helps contribute to Portwest’s growth.

 

5. Were there any learnings from your participation in GradStart that you have taken forward into your business.

We have learned that only hiring experienced staff with x years’ experience in x industry can be limiting. Hiring graduates with their fresh approach and up to date knowledge of their areas of expertise can truly contribute in a meaningful way to our corporate goals. Furthermore, the satisfaction of being able to bring these graduates straight from college to management roles within such a short space of time is highly rewarding for any employer. We currently have graduates in managerial positions in our sites in Australia, USA and HQ and will look to add Europe and the UK to this as part of our 2020 Graduate program.

 

6. Would you recommend GradStart to your business peers? If so, why?

This is a fantastic way to introduce a graduate program to your company if you do not already have one. We had previously brought in graduates on an ad hoc basis, but between G4IG and now GradStart, this meant that we were able to formalise a program and become confident in our offering. This is a fantastic opportunity for any graduate looking to kick-start their career and with Enterprise Ireland funding, it is wonderful that businesses can get involved in such a great initiative.

 

7. Which languages were the graduates skilled in?

French and Spanish.

 

8. Have you stayed in touch with the graduate?

Yes – our graduates are still with us as they joined us in September 2019 for a two year period. One graduate will remain on site here at Portwest HQ while the other, following an initial training period at Portwest headquarters, has now relocated to our Kentucky office where they will continue to work with our Sales, Commercial and Marketing teams on exploring new markets. We see this as an ongoing project now, and a model which we would hope to continue after our current GradStart program is complete.

Learn more about GradStart and how it can support your business growth.

How Payslip filled a gap in the multinational payroll market

“Enterprise Ireland provided great support through its fintech network. They enabled us to leverage international channels and acquire clients.”


Payslip Founder & CEO Fidelma McGuirk

Overview:

  • Founded in 2015, Payslip empowers multinational companies to standardise global payroll processes and manage international data, resources and vendors on a single platform.
  • Began its seed funding process and applied for High Potential Start-Up support in February 2018.
  • Since then, Payslip has acquired 23 clients across Europe and the US, including LogMeIn, GetYourGuide and Airbus, and the company has plans to increase sales by 400% in 2020.

 

Case Study: Payslip

As CEO and Director of Operations for an international tax company, Fidelma McGuirk was in charge of company growth and management across 21 countries. At the time, her company was using a variety of payroll service vendors. Frustratingly, she found no existing technology that could automate, integrate, and streamline their global payroll operations. So, she decided to create a platform to deliver this.

Payslip provides automation and integration technology to multi-national employers to standardise their global payroll management. Payslip technology integrates with human capital management and accounting/ERP systems, automating payroll processes and standardising global payroll data and reporting. With Payslip, multinational clients can centrally manage their global payroll operations with visibility, control and governance as they expand operations across borders.

Pre-launch, McGuirk and her team conducted robust market testing. They spoke to over 470 multinational employers, payroll providers, and international payroll associations, including the Global Payroll Management Institute in the US and the Global Payroll Association in the UK. McGuirk’s instincts were correct: there was a strong need for a new global payroll model with a focus on automation and standardisation.

In February 2018, Payslip began its seed funding process and applied for HPSU support. The start-up found solid support in its Enterprise Ireland Development Advisor (DA), who helped to guide Payslip through the application process. Once HPSU status was gained, the goal was to seek a strong investor partnership that would help grow the business and open international channels to multinational companies.

“HPSU offered us established, structured support,” says McGuirk. “As an organisation, they have international market experience—they’ve been through this journey before. They were able to arrange the specific introductions needed in foreign markets.”

Over the past two years, Payslip has acquired 23 clients headquartered across Ireland, Germany, The Netherlands, Denmark, and the US. Clients like Airbus, Teamwork, AMCS Group, Argon Medical Devices, LogMeIn, Phorest and others use the Payslip platform to manage and control global payroll for employees in over 60 countries. Sales increased 500% after the first year and McGuirk says the company has plans to increase by another 400% in 2020.

 

Educating the marketplace on the need for payroll innovation

Initially, the greatest challenge was helping potential investors and clients to understand how Payslip technology could disrupt and transform the market.

“What we were doing was different than what was done before, Payslip is a technology solution for global payroll, not a service for payroll calculations,” McGuirk says. “We had to educate the market and help people understand that we don’t compete with payroll service providers—we collaborate with them.”

Payslip brought something entirely new to the table: a technology solution to automate and standardise the global payroll process in a way that delivers central governance, while accommodating local country payroll nuances . Previously, the established industry players were traditional global payroll service offerings like ADP, Ceridian, and CloudPay. These service firms focus on delivering in-country payroll calculation and compliance expertise. According to McGuirk, there is no other platform that provides a single, end-to-end global payroll management solution like Payslip.

Payslip began acquiring early-adopter clients and interest was high among high-growth, technology-based companies. McGuirk says the first client was naturally the hardest to land. After that, things took off quickly. Thanks to the growing number of multinational companies who are going digital to achieve central governance, Payslip is now the leader in the new Gartner industry category of digital payroll services.

 

More markets, more clients

Payslip closed its Series A fundraising in February 2020 and, so far, all its initial investors have followed their investment in Payslip. McGuirk says that being a HPSU company will help it achieve its goal of continued international growth pointing out that Enterprise Ireland has resources in the right foreign markets. Their international teams have a good understanding of what is happening locally, which is crucial for market penetration.

“We intend to extend our reach into more markets and acquire more clients,” McGuirk says. “Our single focus is to continue growing our client base internationally from our headquarters in Westport, Co. Mayo. Enterprise Ireland is very supportive of this objective.

Part of Payslip’s growth plan includes the expansion of its sales and engineering teams here in Ireland to support those global aspirations. Working together with Enterprise Ireland and the HPSU team, McGuirk is confident that her company can optimise its commercial capabilities to capitalise on growth opportunities and gain market share.

Click here to learn more about becoming a HPSU or contact our Start-Up Enquiries Team to find out more.

How the HPSU team helped catapult Revive Active into the international marketplace

“It can feel like you’re on your own when you’re running a start-up. HPSU provides you with a mentor who is experienced and has seen it all.”

Daithi O’Connor, Managing Director, Revive Active

Overview:

  • Founded in 2011, Revive Active is a leading health supplement company whose stockists include over 1,000 health food stores and pharmacies in Ireland as well as prestigious London stores including Selfridges, Whole Foods, and John Bell & Croyden.
  • In 2013, it was fast-tracked through the application process for High Potential Start-Ups, which armed the company with the financial strength it needed to expand.
  • Today, Revive Action’s offering includes 10 products and its revenue has averaged an increase of 35% per annum.

Case Study: Revive Active

Every year in the world of health and wellness, alternatives to traditional medicine and big pharma are gaining popularity. Instead of relying on medication to treat health conditions, many are preempting illness with healthy diets, exercise and nutritional supplements. Tuning into the growing popularity of nutritional products in Ireland, a collection of health professionals and scientists in Galway teamed up to meet consumer demand.

Originally, the group hoped to source products from outside of Ireland. Daithi O’Connor, a finance, management and marketing specialist, was hired for his business acumen. After 12 months of product and market research, he told his colleagues that if they wanted to sell a groundbreaking product in a competitive global market, they would have to create a new brand. In 2011, newly appointed Managing Director O’Connor and his team of specialists set out to create an original, high-quality, easy-to-take supplement with multiple health benefits. The result: Ireland’s leading “super supplement,” Revive Active.

We set out to make the best-quality super supplement on the market. That was first and foremost, and then we asked, ‘How are we going to pay for this?” said O’Connor.

O’Connor says the company always had huge plans for growth, but its first priority was survival. Funding was needed in order to grow production, get people on the road and supply retailers as they grew. So, in 2013, O’Connor contacted his local Enterprise Ireland advisor. He says Enterprise Ireland immediately recognised that the product had global potential and Revive Active was fast-tracked through the application process for High Potential Start-Ups. At the start of its involvement with the programme, HPSU pledged to match all the company’s fundraising efforts, which armed the company with the financial strength it needed to expand.

 

Local support enabling international growth

Once it had HPSU funding and support, Revive Active began to grow in earnest. Over the last eight years, the company has expanded its offering to include 10 tailored products, including personalised nutrition, beauty regimens, memory boosters, age-specific supplements and more. It’s gone from six employees to more than 40 and can be found on the shelves of pharmacies and retailers throughout Ireland and the UK, including Selfridges, Whole Foods and John Bell & Croyden. It also ships worldwide via its website. Revive Active’s revenue has averaged an increase of 35% per annum.

Next year, the team plans to set its sights on the ultimate health and wellness marketplace: The United States. An impressive 77% of American adults take nutritional supplements, which makes it the perfect place to introduce a new, revolutionary “super” product. O’Connor says Revive Active will take its time, conduct extensive research and expand into the U.S. market when the time is right. It already has a growing consumer following in the US as it exports directly from its Galway warehouse.

 

A valuable partnership

The collaboration between Revive Active and Enterprise Ireland was a success. Revive contributed a high-quality product and loads of ambition, while HPSU added everything else needed to catapult the business from small-time to international best-seller: funding, mentorship and market access.

O’Connor admits things would be very different if Revive Active had never connected with HPSU. The funding enabled the supplement company to increase employment, which in turn gave it the ability to develop in other areas. In addition, he says the research and data that Enterprise Ireland made available to its team was instrumental in decision-making as it expanded its operation. He would recommend that any start-up business take advantage of the mentorship and professional knowledge on offer through Enterprise Ireland.

It can feel like you’re on your own when you’re running a start-up, HPSU provides you with a mentor who is experienced and has seen it all. It means you have someone you can talk to who is knowledgeable in the sector you’ve chosen. This type of support is invaluable for a start-up.

O’Connor says.

Since exiting the programme, Revive Active has opened its own production plant in Mullingar, which was a direct result of advice given by HPSU and is hugely positive for the business, especially in light of Brexit. O’Connor also points to international sales as one of the undeniable benefits of its time in the HPSU programme. Enterprise Ireland’s advisors on foreign soil were instrumental in assisting with industry introductions. They also offered particular knowledge of the international marketplace, which was crucial to the Revive Active team as it reached out to retailers in the UK.

HPSU funding and mentorship were essential to us. Without Enterprise Ireland, we wouldn’t have progressed to where we are today,” O’Connor says. “We wouldn’t have had the confidence or money that we needed to grow.”

From tech enthusiast to industry innovator – How Immersive VR is revolutionising education

“It’s not just the money that HPSU provides. It’s the information, contacts, and the advice they give you.”
David Whelan, Founder, Immersive VR Education

Overview:

  • Immersive VR Education was founded in 2014 based on the belief that virtual reality has the power to transform how training and educational content is delivered and consumed globally.
  • The business was ushered into the New Frontiers Entrepreneurial Development programme before qualifying for High Potential Start-Up support, which was used for product development, talent acquisition, conference attendance and more.
  • Today, Immersive VR Education has a staff of 40 people and sales of its applications and education licenses are growing at an average of 50% each year.

 

Case Study: Immersive VR

David Whelan is a self-taught web developer and all-round tech enthusiast. When he came across the first model of the Oculus virtual reality headset on the fundraising website Kickstarter, he was intrigued. The recession had hit Ireland and money was tight, but Whelan still spent his last €300 to purchase the cutting-edge product.

Inspired by the new technology, Whelan built one of the very first review websites for virtual reality. He realised that, despite the potential power of this tech to impact learning, most existing VR content consisted of video games and entertainment. It’s true that NASA and several medical research facilities were using virtual reality for training, but access to these experiences was extremely expensive. He had identified a glaring gap in the VR market: educational material for the average consumer. That’s when Whelan decided to start his own virtual reality business: Immersive VR Education.

Whelan was convinced that his idea held merit for educators worldwide, but in order to make it happen, he needed funding. He paid a visit to his local Enterprise Ireland office in Waterford, bringing along the VR headset.

“When pitching my idea, the first thing I had to do was explain VR,” says Whelan. “Then I would let them try it. People were always blown away by the experience. They definitely thought I was crazy, but they could see I was committed. It’s hard to deny the power of VR once you’ve tried it.

Enterprise Ireland agreed that the start-up had huge global potential. Immersive VR Education was ushered into the New Frontiers Entrepreneurial Development programme with the goal of eventually qualifying for High Potential Start-Up support. Its partnership with Enterprise Ireland generated funding used for product development and enabled Whelan to bring his wife and co-founder, Sandra, on staff. The start-up’s HPSU development advisor, who came from a similar business and technical background, suggested applying for grant funding, so it participated in the HPSU Feasibility Study, which contributed toward costs to attend conferences in relevant industries.

 

Enterprise Ireland introduced Immersive VR Education to their overseas offices in places like New York, Tokyo, and London. Whelan says these international teams were extremely helpful and happy to advise whether the new VR products would be well received within their respective markets.

Whelan says, “I couldn’t have started a business anywhere but here. Enterprise Ireland vetted us and vouched for us, which gave investors confidence in our business idea. This opened important doors to funding and helped us to no end.”

 

Shoot for the moon

Most of the early fundraising went toward building Immersive VR Education’s first application: the Apollo 11 virtual reality experience. Whelan describes the 1969 moon landing as “a shining beacon in history.” He and his team of developers worked hard to build a virtual reality experience that would transport viewers directly to the surface of the moon with the Apollo 11 crew. He believed that this type of immersive learning would mean much more to students than simply reading about the event in a textbook.

When the demo for Apollo 11 VR was launched, Facebook used it in conjunction with the release of its new Oculus headset. The partnership gave Immersive VR Education the remaining funds needed to complete the application. When all was said and done, Apollo 11 VR cost about $100,000 to build and went out as a top title on the Oculus Rift VR headset. Since then, the application has generated over $2 million.

 

Education for everyone

Following the roaring success of Immersive VR Education’s first application, it began to build out its business and hire more staff. Whelan took the education angle to a whole new level, creating a virtual university where educators can teach anyone in the world via its virtual classrooms.

“We want a future where education is accessible to everyone,” says Whelan. “I fully believe there is another young Einstein out there, missing his chance to change the world because he doesn’t have access to quality education. We’re here to change that.”

Immersive VR Education hopes that in the future, we will see virtual universities around the world. Whelan dreams of providing the opportunity for students to attend a physics class at MIT in the morning and literature at Oxford in the afternoon. He also sees potential for exposing home-schooled students to the social benefits of the classroom experience, helping to alleviate isolation for children who are not involved in traditional schooling. The possibilities, he says, are endless.

 

Exceptional growth with Enterprise Ireland

Today, Immersive VR Education has a staff of 40 people. Sales of its applications and education licenses are growing at an average of 50% each year. The company sells products online globally, with its highest numbers coming from the US, UK, and Korea.

Although Immersive VR Education flew through the official HPSU programme in just under three years, Whelan says that Enterprise Ireland is still very much part of their daily operations. They regularly send advisors to Waterford, provide advice and industry connections, and enable access to further support and grants.

The company’s latest goal is to expand and hire more staff. Recently, it availed of the Enterprise Ireland GradStart programme, which Whelan says is invaluable when it comes to sourcing new recruits. Immersive VR Education expects to see exponential growth over the next three to five years as the company continues its work of revolutionising education around the globe.

Is your business ready to take the next step towards becoming a HPSU? Contact our Start-Up Enquiries Team to find out more.

Click here to learn more about becoming a HPSU or contact our Start-Up Enquiries Team to find out more.

Is your business ready to take the next step to becoming a HPSU? Click here to learn more or contact our Start-Up Enquiries Team

How Manna Drone Delivery is changing the global delivery industry

“Indigenous tech is at a huge disadvantage compared to FDI companies. Enterprise Ireland gives us policy support and the advantage we need in order to scale.”

Bobby Healy, Founder, Manna Drone Delivery

Overview:

  • Serial entrepreneur Bobby Healy of CarTrawler fame founded Manna Drone Delivery in 2017 to revolutionise food delivery.
  • The High Potential Start-Up team provided invaluable logistical support, training, and market access.
  • Healy plans to begin scaling the company globally in the next 18-24 months.

Case Study: Manna Drone Delivery

Bobby Healy is an experienced entrepreneur, but his latest idea is probably his most revolutionary yet. For the last three years, he’s been building Manna Drone Delivery, a service with which he plans to revolutionise the world of online food delivery. Healy says he noticed that major food platforms don’t deliver to suburban Ireland. The reason? It is nearly impossible to drive or deliver food profitably. The practice is cost-prohibitive but still needed in many areas. He saw an opportunity to use new technology as a solution to the problem: drones. Healy founded Manna and began hiring experts who could turn his idea into reality.

A computer programmer by trade, Healy began his career writing video games for Nintendo. Since then, he has founded and led two successful businesses, including CarTrawler, the world’s largest mobility marketplace for airlines. Healy’s programming expertise was also the foundation for his drone delivery idea. Over the last two years, the Manna team has built and tested custom software, hardware, and batteries. They are also working with aviation regulators in multiple markets about airspace law. The end goal is to “make a 3-minute, low-cost food delivery service as pervasive as running water in Europe and the USA.”

Anywhere there’s an economy where food delivery is growing, we should be there. By 2021, we’ll begin to scale and then enter markets everywhere.” says Healy.

The entrepreneur’s last two businesses were supported by Enterprise Ireland, so it was only natural that Healy went to them with his newest idea. He says that onboarding with the High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) team was a straightforward process.

“The HPSU team were always available to meet and help us understand what they needed for us to qualify. It’s not a rigid organisation. They do everything they can to take care of formalities in the background as you get going on the work,” Healy says.

 

HPSU making headway on foreign soil

Currently, there are 23 people working for Manna. Healy says that with Enterprise Ireland’s guidance, he plans to begin commercially scaling the company in the next 18 to 24 months. He predicts HPSU will be invaluable when it comes to logistical support, training, and market access. He plans to lean on HPSU as he pushes Manna’s service into the global marketplace.

One of the biggest challenges to launching international drone operations is airspace regulation. Flight rules vary from country to country and Healy’s team will need to negotiate with lawmakers in each region where they hope to fly. The partnership with Enterprise Ireland will be crucial for gaining permission to operate in foreign airspace. The key to success is access to the people who control those regulations.

“Enterprise Ireland is there to help with introductions to regulators in foreign countries,” Healy says. “They offer an industrial international presence.”

Healy admits that his company is facing some inordinately large challenges, saying it is probably the most complex business you could build. Manna must find solutions for custom cloud services, market integration, new hardware, regulations, certification, and licensing. On top of everything else, there is the matter of finance. Healy says the first hurdle in fundraising was educating and convincing investors that his idea was viable. The scale and audacity of the plan can be hard to fathom for some.

Healy says, “Most businesses are predictable and believable. Ours is beyond cutting edge. We’re doing something totally new, but we’ve overcome disbelief and begun to successfully raise significant levels of capital.”

The international business community has shown faith in the fledgling company’s new ideas. In addition to regulatory access across borders, Enterprise Ireland has been working to assist Manna throughout the fundraising process.

“The team in San Francisco have been instrumental in opening doors for us as we raise funds,” says Healy. “They give us respectability and prominence in the industry.”

 

Sights set on more than just food

Manna is launching as a food delivery service, but Healy says the start-up won’t stop there. He decided to hone in on the food industry because the volume of potential deliveries is so high. Healy says this will allow the new business to be capital efficient. Once the infrastructure is in place, however, it plans to also roll out services for pharmacies, hardware stores, butcher shops, bookstores, and anything else that fuels a local economy.

In order to reach these goals, Healy says talent acquisition will be important. As drone technology continues to develop, Manna will need more high-quality technicians, designers, and programmers on board to keep up. He predicts that the company’s ongoing relationship with HPSU and Enterprise Ireland will once again be valuable as it scales.

“A small start-up company needs an endorsement that says, ‘These guys are a team to work with’. We’re competing with the big guys for talent, so HPSU helps address that imbalance.” says Healy.

 

Dmac Media Director of Sales

Dmac Media – attracting new talent with GradStart

Tech graduates are highly desirable and form a key part of our growth plans.  We had issues competing for that talent and GradStart allowed us to offer a much more attractive package to graduates.”

Dave McEvoy, Sales Director, Dmac Media

Overview:

  • Dmac Media is a web design agency offering a full suite of web solutions including web design, eCommerce platforms, content management and digital marketing.
  • With offices in Dublin, Sligo and Cork the company used Enterprise Ireland’s GradStart initiative to attract fresh graduate talent and drive business activity.
  • The GradStart programme offers salary support of up to 70% for the employment of graduate talent to assist companies when expanding into new markets.

1. What attracted you to get involved in GradStart?

Tech graduates are highly desirable and form a key part of our growth plans.  We had issues competing for that talent and Enterprise Ireland‘s GradStart allowed us to offer a much more attractive package to graduates.

 

2. What did GradStart allow you to do that you wouldn’t have done otherwise?

Bringing in fresh talent to our business allowed us to focus more heavily on business development as a daily activity rather than a paper based plan.

 

3. What challenges and/or opportunities did GradStart help you address?

With qualified personnel we had lower training and induction costs this allowed us to keep up in a fast paced sector in a sustainable way.  The challenge (as always) was finding the right graduates.

 

4. Which areas of the business did the graduate contribute to?

Our graduates have broadened both our technical skillset as well as our graphic design and process management skills.  The impact was noticeable from day one.

 

5. How did participating in GradStart impact your business positively?

GradStart gave us a headstart on developing new products which in turn has brought our entry into new markets considerably closer.

 

6. Were there any learnings from your participation in GradStart that you have taken forward into your business?

We have evolved from a company with very standard and fixed methodologies to one that is now willing to experiment and develop better strategies.

 

7. Would you recommend GradStart to your business peers? If so, why?

Yes, it gives you time to focus on the business rather than just working in the business.

Learn more about GradStart and how it can support your business growth.

Loci Orthopaedics

How the Innovation Partnership Programme is helping Loci Orthopaedics de-risk product development

“NUIG has the expertise and the equipment to develop this technology much faster and more efficiently that we would be able to do in-house.”

Dr. Brendan Boland, Co-founder, Loci Orthodopaedics

Overview:

  • Galway company Loci Orthopaedics is developing innovative implants to address unmet need in the orthopaedic extremities space.
  • Enterprise Ireland’s Innovation Partnership Programme enabled the company to work with experts in the National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG) to optimise technology to improve implant fixation.
  • The company will be undertaking its first clinical trials in Europe later this year.

Case study: Loci Orthopaedics

‘Thumbs, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes’ is (almost) what the song says, and it more or less sums up the orthopaedic space within which NUIG spin-out company Loci Orthopaedics is operating. Co-founded in 2017 by Dr. Brendan Boland (CEO) and Gerry Clarke (CTO), the multi-award-winning company is targeting the fastest growing area in orthopaedic medicine – orthopaedic extremities.

“In 2013, I became a fellow in the BioInnovate programme, where I met Gerry. We identified the unmet clinical need of treating upper limb arthritic conditions. That led to the establishment of Loci Orthopaedics and the development of our primary product, the InDx implant, which can mimic the complex motions of the thumb base joint,” explains Boland.

The company then began work on a second product, a shoulder implant. Recognising that achieving good primary fixation is problematic for patients with poor bone stock, it licensed OsteoAnchor – technology that had been developed by Dr. Noel Harrison of the School of Engineering at NUIG, who is a leader in the field of additive manufacturing (3D printing).

“The OsteoAnchor technology allows implants to better adhere to the bone by providing a roughened surface that the person’s own bone can grow into….” 

We felt that this technology fitted our focus but we needed to optimise its effectiveness and de-risk it to give us the confidence to invest in developing new products using it. Having benefitted in the past from excellent support from Enterprise Ireland, we turned to its Innovation Partnership Programme for help,” says Boland.” 

 

The power of partnership

The Innovation Partnership Programme enables companies to access expertise within universities and research institutes and covers up to 80% of the cost of a research project. With NUIG’s recently opened Advanced Manufacturing Lab (developed by Dr. Harrison) located just metres from Loci Orthopaedics, it made sense to ask Harrison’s team to lead the Innovation Partnership Programme project.

“They have the expertise and the equipment to develop the OsteoAnchor technology much faster and more efficiently than we would be able to do in-house,” says Boland.

Dr. Eimear O’Hara is the technical lead and project manager. “It’s an ambitious six-month project,” she says. “We’re taking a concept implant and doing the design, prototyping and mechanical testing here in the lab, where we have extensive 3D printing capability. The deliverable will be a metal 3D printed shoulder implant.”

The Innovation Partnership Programme will deliver benefits to both the company and the university.

“As well as de-risking the technology, the Innovation Partnership Programme validates it to external parties because the project goes through commercial assessment,” says Boland.  “And there’s the potential for the Innovation Partnership Programme collaboration to lead to further innovation.” 

From NUIG’s perspective it’s the chance to engage with industry to get insights into real world applications of 3D printing and to demonstrate the capability of its 3D metal printer.

“This kind of collaboration also informs the content of my lectures, helping to keep Mechanical Engineering students up to date about additive manufacturing processes, materials and product design,” says Harrison.

“It’s the first time we’ve used the 3D metal printer for an industry-based project. We’re hoping that many more companies will be interested in working with us on using our suite of 3D printers, not just in the medtech space but across all manufacturing,” he adds.

 

The journey to market

With the combined value of the markets for its shoulder and thumb base implants currently sitting at around US $2 billion, the outcome of the Innovation Partnership Programme project will be an important milestone for Loci Orthopaedics, enabling it to take the next steps on its journey to market.

“Our primary market is the US and this year we’ll be making a regulatory submission relating to our InDx product in advance of commercialisation in the US in 2021. We’re aiming to do our first clinical trial of InDx in Europe in June and are anticipating commercialisation in the EU in 2022,” says Boland.

The same process will apply to the shoulder implant, following about two years behind.

“Meanwhile we’ll have an active in-house innovation and R&D programme. We’ve already secured patents, have four more filed and 16 more in development. Over the next five years we’re hoping to roll out a whole suite of products.says Boland. 

Until the products hit the market the company will run lean, maintaining just three staff and using manufacturing and processing partners. Financing currently comes from €6 million secured from seed funding, grants and prizes.

 

The Innovation Partnership Programme experience

Loci Orthopaedics received a grant of €85,000 from the Innovation Partnership Programme and contributed €16,000 to the project.

“For a modest sum of money, we are getting a great deal of work done, a good bang for your buck, as they say. Moreover, applying for the Innovation Partnership Programme grant is relatively straightforward and Enterprise Ireland ensures that the IPP agreement clearly sets out what is expected from each party and what each will get out of it, for example, in the area of intellectual property or how new innovations resulting from the project will be handled. This project is enabling us to add to our R&D pipeline and increase our product portfolio,” says Boland.

Dr. Harrison encourages companies to think big when considering the Innovation Partnership Programme: “A company may have a technical problem that they need help on but they’re thinking about it in terms of their bandwidth. Through the Innovation Partnership Programme, they can get access to a university’s massive suite of equipment, expert personnel and state-of-the-art facilities.”

 

 

Beats Medical CEO Ciara Clancy

Beats Medical: changing the approach to neurological disease

“It’s a huge honour to be supported by the European Commission and really push the limits of what we are doing with this technology….this grant will support us in having the impact we’ve always wanted to have.”

Dr. Ciara Clancy, CEO, Beats Medical

Overview:

  • Founded in 2012, Beats Medical is a game-changing medtech company developing new ways to treat Parkinson’s disease, speech and fine motor skills.
  • It has received feasibility funding, CSF and HPSU support from Enterprise Ireland.
  • In September 2019, Beats Medical was awarded a co-financing grant of €2.4 million from the Horizon 2020 Enhanced European Innovation Council Accelerator Pilot.
  • Today, Beats Medical delivers therapies to people in more than 44 countries and has offices in Dublin and Lisbon.

Case study: Beats Medical

At the age of 22, Ciara Clancy set up Beats Medical, a game-changing medtech company determined to find new ways to treat Parkinson’s disease. “From the start, I was interested in what is now called ‘digital therapeutics’,” she says, “It’s an established field of healthcare now, but then there was no name for it.”

 

Falling short

As a practitioner, Clancy was impressed by the ability of ‘metronome therapy’ to alleviate Parkinson’s walking symptoms. Through an auditory cue system, the therapy replaces the brain signals that are impaired by the disease, helping to overcome the shuffling walk, shortness of breath and freezing so often associated with the disease. While she had no doubt about the efficacy of the therapy, Clancy wanted her clients to enjoy its benefits not only in the hospital, but in their own homes.

 

“For people with neurological conditions,” Clancy explains, “the symptoms vary not only from person to person but from day to day and hour to hour – no one solution fits all.” 

This means that the therapy must be tailored regularly and precisely, making it challenging to prescribe it as ‘homework’.

If she could find a way to deliver these therapies remotely, however, Clancy believed she could dramatically improve the lives of countless people living with Parkinson’s, giving them more control over their symptoms every day.

When, in 2012, Clancy founded Beats Medical, her aim was to design a device that would give those with Parkinson’s access to therapy between hospital visits. She needed to create a device that could analyse individual needs and generate tailored metronome therapy prescriptions.

“I had support from Enterprise Ireland at this stage,” explains Clancy, “as well as feasibility funding and Competitive Start Fund (CSF) support. The initial years of research were about seeing if it was even possible to do this.”

 

The next step

It was soon clear that Clancy was onto something. In 2015, she was named Laureate for Europe at the Cartier Women’s Initiative and the same year Beats Medical became one of Enterprise Ireland’s High Potential Start-ups, giving Clancy the financial support needed to start building a team.

“One of the first people I brought on board was Dr. Wui-Mei Chew, a medical doctor and researcher specialising in molecular medicine,” says Clancy. “We had met at university.”

A year later, she won Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur and Best Established Business awards, which together earned her €60,000 via an investment fund from Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices.

With their hard-won R&D funding, the team spent two years developing algorithmic and analytical processes and building the initial prototype. They then went on to test the device with a number of Irish universities, as well as with the UK’s largest Parkinson’s charity, Parkinson’s UK.

After some trial and error, Beats Medical had developed a core technology platform that could deliver cost-effective daily assessments and individually tailored therapy to clients.

 

The risk

Despite these developments, it wasn’t all plain sailing for the young company. Not satisfied to stop there, Clancy had her sights set on expanding the technology to treat speech and fine motor skills. Beats Medical reported financial losses two years running while it tried to develop and expand its product but continued to make its existing device available to those with Parkinson’s.

This tenacity paid off. In 2018, Clancy’s company launched one of the first digital therapeutics in Europe to attain direct reimbursement, with the Beats Medical Dyspraxia app covered by Vhi Healthcare.

Today, the company employs twelve people and has offices in Dublin and Lisbon. It delivers therapies to people in over 44 countries.

 

Change on the horizon

Beats Medical has seen for itself how ambition can threaten financial viability. For SMEs like this, the high risk associated with innovative solutions can prevent ideas from reaching their full potential.

This is where Horizon 2020 comes in. The EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation aims at helping to mitigate the hurdles to scientific development and innovation in Europe by supporting high potential SMEs. The fund provides direct financial support to selected SMEs, as well as nourishing innovation capacities.

The Horizon 2020 Enhanced European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator Pilot is an incarnation of its ‘SME Instrument’. The pilot has €149 million funding available to distribute as grants to 83 SMEs and start-ups around Europe.

“We applied for the EIC Pilot to be able scale up our current core technology platform in order to further deploy the technology in more disease areas,” says Clancy.

In September 2019, Beats Medical was one of eight Irish SMEs to be awarded the pilot’s full-cycle business innovation support. It received a co-financing grant of €2.4 million, as well as coaching and mentoring.

“For us, it’s a huge honour to be supported by the European Commission and really push the limits of what we are doing with this technology,” says Clancy. “Now, we can expand our product and research activities to multiple neurological conditions. We want to continue to better treat these patients and inform the health sector as a whole. The grant will support us in having the impact that we’ve always wanted to have.”

The EIC Pilot will fund a two-year project as part of Clancy’s ambitious five-year plan to not only transform the way neurological conditions are treated but generate a better understanding of the brain. Already, the company has started new and promising research, and has just been assigned their EIC business coach.

“The EIC Accelerator Pilot is a great programme,’ adds Clancy. “It’s really important that other companies focused on deep research and innovation know about this.”

 

Evercam drone install

How Agile Innovation Enabled Evercam to Capitalise on the AI Revolution

“Construction is high value so when things go wrong, it’s expensive. We’ve become that single source of truth.”

Marco Herbst, CEO, Evercams

Overview:

  • Enterprise Ireland’s RD&I funding enabled Evercam to apply AI and machine-learning algorithms to its time-lapse videos.
  • Cameras extract useful, actionable data for project managers, contractors and engineers and generate valuable reports about activity and progress.
  • Partnerships with installation companies are key to Evercam’s growth in international markets.

Construction cranes are redrawing the Dublin skyline and building rates are back at boom-time levels, transforming the city into a world-leading centre of finance and technology  — and Evercam, which supplies time-lapse and project management cameras to the construction industry, is capturing the progress as it happens.

“We’re putting cameras on construction sites for marketing purposes, for project management and for dispute avoidance,” shares Evercam CEO Marco Herbst, who co-founded the company with Vinnie Quinn in 2010.

“We wanted to use cameras for more than just security and we always felt that images and pictures could be used for a much more productive, proactive, communicative purpose to try and improve how people do their jobs,” Marco explains, adding, “We spent quite a while trying out different business models and industries until we found construction about four years ago.”

Evercam’s products are now used by a number of high-profile construction companies including BAM, SISK, Bennett and Stewart on projects for the likes of Google, Facebook, ESB and Central Bank, to name a few.

“Construction is high value so when things go wrong, it’s expensive,” Marco says. “And construction sites are complicated environments with lots of moving parts and a lot of issues around trust, what happened when and who did what. Pictures, images and video are just beautiful ways of capturing all that so that everybody is on the same page.”

 

Harnessing the power of AI

Evercam cameraTime-lapse is an incredible way to visually display progress but Marco and his team saw potential in video analytics, a technology that applies artificial intelligence and  machine-learning algorithms to video feeds — thereby allowing cameras to instantly recognise people, objects and situations.

“Customers were already using our videos to check how many trucks arrived at the construction site, how long the crane was on-site, how many people were on-site at any given moment, but we weren’t using video analytics,” Marco says. “We had the data, we had real customer problems to solve but we needed data scientists and hardware and for a company at our stage of growth, it could be risky to suddenly shift a load of our resources into an R&D project.”

That’s why Evercam decided to apply to Enterprise Ireland’s Agile Innovation Fund for support, which offers up to 50% funding to a maximum of €150,000 in grant aid for innovation projects with a total cost of up to €300,000.

With Enterprise Ireland’s support, we were able to buy GPUs (graphics processing units), hire developers and researchers, spend time in iterative dialogue with customers and spend time designing the product,” Marco explains.

“The Agile fund is a very holistic, wholesome support and Enterprise Ireland is happy to support all of those different moving parts, not just financially but also with advice, letting us know where to spend our energy.”

Evercam now combines the latest developments in machine learning and AI to construction site videos to extract useful, actionable data for project managers, contractors and engineers and generate valuable reports about activity and progress.

“We’ve become that single source of truth,” Marco states.

 

Next steps in Evercam’s growth strategy

Evercam’s customer base today is predominantly in Ireland and the UK, the latter of which relies on channel partners such as CCTV installers.

“From the customer’s point of view, the end-user, they get the time-lapse video which they need and want from their existing CCTV supplier which is great because they don’t need to have an extra person on-site — they can buy it from somebody they’re already working with,” Marco explains, adding, “That’s been key to us growing in the UK, particularly in London, and now we’re actively setting that up everywhere else.”

And the company’s products continue to evolve. One of the most popular features is Snapmail, which captures key stages in a project and emails them to those who need it. Another is a tool that compares before and after images from any point in time.

Evercam plans to open an office in New Zealand in February as well as grow its presence in markets such as Singapore and the US where it’s already started selling its cameras.

“Enterprise Ireland has been amazing at making introductions in new markets, from New York to Paris to Amsterdam, steering us towards the types of people we want to hire or the kinds of companies we want to talk to,” Marco says. “2020 is our rest-of-world year.”

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

 

Alpha Wireless, CEO Fergal Lawlor

Loose Wires: Laois-based Alpha Wireless takes on the global market

“It’s our ability to innovate that sets us apart,” explains Lawlor. “If the right antenna does not exist, we are committed to creating it.”

Fergal Lawlor, CEO Alpha Wireless

Overview:

Alpha Wireless is a market-leading specialist in high performing, superior quality antenna solutions covering macro to small cell antennas.

The company exports to 22 countries worldwide and has opened its first research and development office in Australia.

Enterprise Ireland supports include research and development projects, trade shows, market development programmes, and access to overseas networks.

By the time Fergal Lawlor discovered that the company he worked for was closing, he was already too invested to stop: “By then I had been a designer for two very innovative antenna companies that were disruptive in the market and were coming out with new products and challenging the incumbents that were there,” he says. “I had seen how that worked and I very much liked being part of that.”

Lawlor had spent several years designing wireless solutions with Argus Technologies in Australia, before returning to Ireland to work for an independent company, Sigma Wireless: “We were working on a number of innovative designs in the 3G space at the time,” he explains, “We had good products and we understood what the customer was doing.”

In 2005, US company PCTEL bought the Finglas-based business. “In 2007, they closed their Irish operations.”

 

Unfinished business

For Lawlor, there was too much good work being left behind in Ireland: “I didn’t feel we were finished, so to speak. I knew the antenna designs, I knew a lot of the customers we were talking to, and I knew there was a skilled workforce in Ireland.”

Lawlor approached Enterprise Ireland, who helped him to conduct a feasibility study into the potential for continuing some of this work.

We looked at the various market segments that I had been working in previously,” he says. “Because we were a newer company, we had to come in with something that wasn’t already there…

We came up with the conclusion that, yeah, there is a potential market there in this new emerging WiMAX for 4G. We went ahead and set up Alpha Wireless in 2007.”

 

Global ambition from the middle of Ireland

Lawlor describes the gruelling process of expanding from a small office to a global business: “From day one we aimed at becoming a global player. Enterprise Ireland helped us through multiple rounds of funding, market development programmes, research and development projects, and trade shows. They also really helped us with contacts. This market is changing all the time. By focusing on new solutions, we have been able to break into overseas markets from our headquarters in Ballybrittas, Co. Laois – smack bang in the middle of Ireland.”

Lawlor’s previous designs had been tailored primarily for tier-one operators like Vodafone, and o2. “As a new company starting up, there was no chance we were going to be able to sell back into those tier one customers,” he explains, “so we picked a different market segment – WiMAX for 4G – where there wasn’t this existing relationship with vendors going back over the years. We were able to bring our expertise working with these tier ones to this market. It allowed us to go in and become the preferred antenna company for many radio vendors in this emerging market.”

 Alpha Wireless had soon won their first contract from Israeli company, Airspan Networks.

“A meeting with Airspan in Israel brought an opportunity to participate in a trial in Romania – giving just 12 hours’ notice. Martin Barrett quickly responded by booking a flight to Romania and hand-carried the AW3023 antenna for the forthcoming trial. All testing went very well, and the trial resulted in Alpha Wireless winning a contract for 1,500 antennas.” This is testament to Alpha Wireless’ agility and responsiveness providing fast and efficient solutions for their customers.

As the company grew, he brought in some of the designers and engineers who had worked together at Sigma: “We started our business by taking the good learnings to build something new,” he says. “The way we broke in was by finding new markets and knowing what kind of customers we wanted: we wanted customers who needed solutions that weren’t available off the shelf; where we could go in and work really closely with them to create a solution.”

 

How Alpha Wireless has built its foundations

As a young company, Alpha Wireless was one of Enterprise Ireland’s 15 new companies at their exhibition stand at the Pavilion in Dublin. “Sometimes it’s hard to quantify what you get out of these fairs, but you have to keep going to them. It helps to raise awareness and to scale up. We exhibited at a show in Chicago,” adds Lawlor, “which Enterprise Ireland also funds, and that’s how we got Samsung back in 2010

Now, the company is at a level where they have their own booth at these fairs: “Today, the Mobile World Congress Barcelona is our most important show.”

 

Support on the ground

“As you start getting access to bigger customers, you need local support,” says Lawlor, “and Enterprise Ireland helped us to understand local markets and set up offices in the US. They were able to connect us with operators and make the right introductions. Because of them, we have been able to do things that you normally have to wait much longer for.”

Only 12 years’ from its inception, Alpha Wireless has now become a market-leading specialist in high performing, superior quality antenna solutions covering macro to small cell antennas. The brand now exports to 22 countries worldwide and last year it opened its first research and development office in Australia.

“It’s our ability to innovate that sets us apart,” explains Lawlor. “If the right antenna does not exist, we are committed to creating it.”

To find out more visit alphawireless.com.

GMIT 2 - How the Commercialisation Fund supports the journey from lab to market

How the Commercialisation Fund supports the journey from lab to market

“The Commercialisation Specialist has been excellent in terms of advice and pushing the commercial agenda.

Dr Liam Morris, Senior Principal Investigator, GMIT

Key Takeouts:

  • Researchers in Enterprise Ireland’s Medical & Engineering Technology Gateway in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology are developing a novel device for treating heart failure.
  • Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund is supporting the development of the technology and the validation of its commercial potential.
  • The team has applied for a patent and are planning further research before spin-out.

Case Study: Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology

Dr. Liam Morris is a lecturer and co-principal investigator in the Medical & Engineering Technology Gateway in Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT). He’s currently undertaking research and development on a device for the treatment of heart failure and has received support from Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund to investigate its commercial potential.

GMIT 4 - How the Commercialisation Fund supports the journey from lab to market “The idea for the device came about when we were approached by industry people who were looking for a solution relating to treating heart failure in a specific way. We had developed a solution related to aneurysms so we decided to take that and evolve it so that it could be repurposed and applied to another heart failure indication.

“As an Institute of Technology we are more on the applied science side of things so there is a good fit with the idea of commercialisation,” says Morris.

Having been involved with Commercialisation Fund projects before, including working on the first product to be licensed in the GMIT, Morris knew that Enterprise Ireland should be his first port of call. With advice and input from colleagues and from an Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Specialist, he applied for and secured Commercialisation Fund support.

 

Building the team

Recognising that having the right technical and commercial skill sets in place is vital for project delivery and success, Morris then turned to the crucial task of building the team to take forward the project.

“It’s all about getting the right individuals around you,” says Morris. “You need to know what that team should look like. The Commercialisation Specialist’s advice was invaluable to me in terms of detailing the skill sets that we needed.

“You also need to look realistically at the salaries you’re offering because you want to attract the right people and you’ll be competing with industry for them.”

Through the Commercialisation Fund, Enterprise Ireland ensured that Morris could offer salaries that would attract the skill sets and experience needed for the project.

Sharon White joined the team in 2017 as the senior engineer. With industry and regulatory experience in a multinational company she was exactly what Morris was looking for.GMIT 3 - How the Commercialisation Fund supports the journey from lab to market

After 13 years in industry, White was looking for a change and became aware of the project through industry contacts.

“This project was a chance to be involved in something from the start, which is not an opportunity you get in industry,” says White.

Also you have the scope to build the device in the way you want to rather than doing what layers of management above you are telling you. It really appealed to me. I could bring my own knowledge into it but I’d learn a huge amount as well.”

Neither Morris nor White had any real business experience, which they knew was critical to the project. That role has now been filled by Jonathan Bouchier-Hayes who works as the project’s commercial executive.

“Jonathan has really made a difference to the project. Whereas Liam and I look at things purely from a technology perspective, Jonathan will ask – who is going to buy it? Is it viable commercially? Are we VC ready? He looks at things in a different way. We’ve learnt that it may take a side-step from where you are to get where you need to be,” says White.

“In terms of the next challenges Jonathan has given us a very good understanding of what we need to do,” adds Morris. “We’re applying for a patent and he has brought a fresh pair of eyes to that and a commercial head. He also has lots of contacts so we’ve been able to talk to people who are in a similar position.”

 

Planning the next steps

Securing their intellectual property is a critical element but research is also required to fully develop the device so the team has applied for funding through the European Research Council.

“The Commercialisation Specialist has been excellent in terms of pushing the commercial agenda. They advised us on all aspects of funding and introduced us to people who can give us insights into the funding process. They also put us in contact with an expert on clinical research who is advising us on the pre-clinical testing needed for the device,” says Morris.

GMIT 5 - How the Commercialisation Fund supports the journey from lab to market This clinical perspective has been essential for advancing the prototype development and potential clinical value of the technology.

Further support on the business side has come through Enterprise Ireland’s Mentor Programme.

“The mentor acts as a sounding board. Our mentor has a multinational perspective so that brings another dimension to the business side of things,” says Morris.

Morris and White have also benefited from attending some Enterprise Ireland medtech events.

“It’s useful to hear venture capitalists explain what they’re looking for and it helps to see what other people are doing and what the standard is from the spin-out perspective,” says Morris.

White adds: “The Big Ideas event was very beneficial. It was a great networking opportunity and opened doors to venture capitalists.”

For more information about applying for Enterprise Ireland’s Commercialisation Fund, contact your Technology Transfer Office.