NI medical devices entrepreneur gleans ‘Innovation founder of the year’ award

4 Sep 2012

Pictured, from left: Ciaran McGivern, head of business banking Northern Ireland, Bank of Ireland; Tom Eakin, Innovation founder of the year 2012; and Steve Orr, director of NISP Connect

Tom Eakin, the founder of the medical device manufacturing firm TG Eakin, has won the 2012 ‘Innovation founder of the year’ award from NISP Connect for his work in helping put Northern Ireland innovation on the map.

The award was given to Eakin following a public nomination and judging process that sought out those who have founded, led or built a Northern Irish life sciences or technology-based business.

As a result of winning the award, Eakin will now give the keynote speech at this year’s NISP Connect £25K Awards gala dinner for his contribution to innovation in Northern Ireland.

As a pharmacist, Eakin had worked with ostomate patients. This compelled him to set up his own business – TG Eakin – in 1974 to pioneer his own innovations around ostomy pouches. He created an adhesive called a cohesive seal to act as an interface between the pouch and the skin. Having captured sales in both Ireland and the UK, in 1991 the company began to export cohesive sales in other parts of Europe and beyond.

TG Eakin has since expanded its range of products. Today the medical device manufacturer produces skin protection products for use in stoma and wound care. The company how has factories in Wales and Northern Ireland, employs more than 200 people, and exports to more than 30 countries worldwide.

NI’s knowledge base

Speaking after the announcement, Eakin said he recognised the importance of celebrating and showcasing entrepreneurship in order to help spur on Northern Ireland’s knowledge economy.

“This award is a great incentive for me and my company to do even more to encourage entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland,” he said.
NISP Connect’s director Steve Orr said Eakin will now use the network to “champion” high-growth start-ups in Northern Ireland and to mentor emerging entrepreneurs.

As for the NISP Connect’s £25K Awards, they are sponsored by Bank of Ireland UK, Queen’s University Belfast, University of Ulster and the Agri Food and Biosciences Institute. They have been set up to identify and present the best knowledge-based ideas with the most commercial potential from Northern Ireland’s publicly funded research base.

This year’s awards will take place on 27 September at the newly opened Titanic Belfast. is hosting Med Tech Focus, an initiative which over coming months will cover news, reports, interviews and videos, documenting Ireland’s leading role in one of the hottest sectors in technology.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic