Cork IoT powerhouse DeCare Systems Ireland in MBO from parent company Anthem

30 Nov 2016

Among the technologies being developed by the newly independent DeCare Systems Ireland are systems that launch search and rescue drones. Image: Love Silhouette/Shutterstock

In a rare development, the DeCare Systems Ireland operation in Cork is leading a management buyout to drive its future as an internet of things player in the search and rescue space.

Anthem Inc, the US medical insurance giant that employs 37,000 people worldwide, has entered into a definitive agreement to sell DeCare Systems Ireland for an undisclosed sum.

John Murphy, general manager, and Eamonn Franklin, software development director, are leading the management buyout (MBO).

‘We are planning an independent opportunity for the company and this means we can reach out to capture more opportunities in the emerging internet of things and wearables world’

It is understood that no venture capital firms are involved in the transaction, which will become official on 1 January 2017.

DeCare began as an IDA-backed investment in Cork in 1998, and over the years has evolved into a software development hub, specialising in insurance software, e-commerce systems and more recently, search and rescue apps and internet of things (IoT) products.

Murphy told that the MBO will secure the future for the company’s 200-strong staff in Cork.

He said there will be no implications for the workforce and that it will be “business as usual”.


Drones, smart devices and IoT

Murphy explained that DeCare Systems Ireland – which will eventually rebrand – has been developing its own products in core areas like apps and services for the IoT world, specifically wearable devices and drones.

“We are 100pc a software services and products company, and as part of our agreement with Anthem, we will continue to develop software for them. There will be no change in the product cadence.

“We are in a unique position where we see our future in our own products too.”

A search and rescue product called SafeTrx was developed in cooperation with search and rescue professionals worldwide.

The maritime rescue product is used by the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution, the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard, the Norwegian Sea Rescue Society, the Royal Yachting Association and the Irish Sailing Association.

“This is a technology that was made here in Ireland and all the IP is owned by this company,” Murphy said.

A future avenue for SafeTrx is a collaboration with another Irish start-up called DroneSAR, led by Oisin McGrath.

The plan is to develop systems whereby if ships or yachts are in trouble, or don’t reach a particular rendezvous point, drones will be automatically dispatched to find the vessels, record in 4K and even deliver medical supplies.

“We are working on a CPR app with UCC [University College Cork] and Irish Community Rapid Response to deliver essential kit like defibrillators by drone, and monitor [entirely] through apps.”

He said that the company is also working with a Norwegian partner to develop a wearable device that resembles a dive watch, which is integrated with the SafeTrx technology to transmit alerts if the wearer is in trouble. The plan is to manufacture at least 90,000 of the devices and develop other apps for other smartwatches.

“For the immediate future, our bread and butter will be our services business and we specialise in large scale Java and .NET development.

“The major change is that we are planning an independent opportunity for the company, and this means we can reach out to capture more opportunities in the emerging internet of things and wearables world.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years