Irish medtech start-up HealthBeacon to establish a Boston beachhead

16 Mar 2017463 Shares

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Image: Harold Stiver/Shutterstock

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Irish medtech start-up HealthBeacon is to establish a Boston beachhead.

Dublin tech company HealthBeacon is to open a new office in Boston today (16 March 2017) to accelerate its plans to revolutionise how people take medication in a safe way.

The company is opening a new office at 423 West Broadway in south Boston.

‘To do business in the US, you need a solid presence, and I am returning to my home town of Boston to establish HealthBeacon here’
– JIM JOYCE

The expansion will allow for a North American hub that delivers Irish technology, manufactured in Dublin, and exports it to the world.

The company has developed a digital platform that does not only ensure patients adhere to their injectable treatments, but also allows them to dispose of medication in a safe way and keep carers up to date with the patients’ progress.

“I realised that throughout my career, I was staring at the problem the whole time, supporting patients with injectable therapies,” said co-founder of HealthBeacon, Jim Joyce.

From the multinational world to the start-up world

Irish medtech start-up HealthBeacon to establish a Boston beachhead

Image: HealthBeacon

The backstory to HealthBeacon should be one to make IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland sit up and pay attention, and devise new ways to support a rich seam of potential entrepreneurial talent within multinationals.

Joyce, an Irish-American, originally came to Ireland to be general manager of pharma giant Schering-Plough’s operations.

An entrepreneur at heart, Joyce established a number of start-ups in Ireland including Point of Care Systems, which he sold to Uniphar 18 months ago.

One of the technologies to spin out of Point of Care was HealthBeacon, which Joyce co-founded with Kieran Daly.

“I was originally trying to figure out a way to manage waste disposal and costs, and fumbled my way to an idea that can fundamentally change the pharmaceutical industry.”

The HealthBeacon system is currently being trialled in Ireland by a pharma company and the HSE.

Irish medtech start-up HealthBeacon to establish a Boston beachhead

Image: HealthBeacon

“Take-up in Ireland has been excellent and we are now in thousands of homes. We are also live in three European countries – Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal – and we are up and running in Canada and Latin America.”

Joyce said the biggest challenge for HealthBeacon was mastering the hardware. Daly’s expertise and background in wearable tech helped them to navigate the journey of combining four separate technology stacks.

“Kieran masterminded the whole process from manufacturing of plastics and components in China, electronic assembly in Ireland and connectivity, through [to] Vodafone global SIMs.

“The next challenge was regulatory and Ireland was the perfect test bed for these technologies.”

HealthBeacon has raised more than €2m in funding to date from investors that include business angels as well as Oyster Capital Partners and Elkstone Capital Partners.

“At HealthBeacon, we believe that technology should be near invisible and sophistication should be masked by simplicity,” said Daly.

“When we thought about how to develop our medical adherence tools, we wanted to make sure that the patient experience was frictionless but the impact was meaningful.

“It is this seamless connectivity that is driving the IoT trend, and will drive fast adoption and scaling of the platform, especially as it supports lower-cost health delivery.”

According to Joyce, Ireland was a unique testing ground that opened the door to other markets but the US will be a tough nut to crack.

“To do business in the US, you need a solid presence, and I am returning to my home town of Boston to establish HealthBeacon here.

“It has been an interesting journey. I was general manager of a fairly sizeable multinational in Ireland and that gave me good access to decision-makers when I decided to embark on the entrepreneurial path.”

Joyce said that HealthBeacon will remain headquartered in Dublin with offices in Boston and Montreal.

“We see Dublin as the core and we will grow operations there as the business grows. We currently employ 17 people and we see that doubling in the next 12 to 18 months,” Joyce said.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com