The Friday interview: John O’Dea, Crospon

28 Sep 2007

Galway medical technology firm Crospon recently struck a key licensing deal with tech giant HP to commercialise a new form of drug delivery. John O’Dea is its CEO

How did you get into the medical devices business?

I previously set up a company called Caradyne which was acquired in 2004 by a firm called Respironics. In 2006 the Irish site was shut down.We had built up a strong R&D capability and were keen to keep the original team. We acquired a technology from the University of Manchester in the area of non-invasive glucose monitoring.

We also came across technology in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) developed by Barry McMahon, head of clinical engineering at Tallaght Hospital.

How are you financed?

In June we closed our seed funding round of €2.3m and over the next few months we will be raising between €3m and €5m in a Series A round.

Would you urge other Irish companies to look at licensing intellectual property?

This model will be the cornerstone of Ireland’s future knowledge economy. We’ve never been in the supply business — everything we do is focused on the end-user.

Our skill is in identifying gaps in the medical device area and bringing in the intellectual property (IP), building and developing products and bringing them to market.

How did your deal with HP come about?

Enterprise Ireland set up an excellent programme for local businesses that involves going into the large multinationals and asking them if there was any IP they were not currently using.

A lot of them have built up patents and if they’re not using them they’re happy to license them out.

If it means creating something that doesn’t compete with them it’s a win-win for everyone.

How does it work?

We’re applying IT-type technologies to medical device delivery. Imagine a patch with tiny needles delivering a drug with tiny microprocessors. It looks like a plaster but lends itself to sophisticated drug delivery.

Who will use it?

One end market we are looking at is diabetics. They wear a patch rather than a pager and you can programme a sequence of drug delivery.

This will be of interest to pharmaceutical firms because a lot of drugs don’t make it beyond liquid to tablet stage.

When will you bring the product to market?

We envisage a nine-month engineering phase but it could take three years to bring it to market because a lot of regulatory work is required.

By John Kennedy