We spoke to KerrySciTech about the rise of the Kingdom’s start-up ecosystem and the companies to watch for future success.
Scenic Co Kerry has a reputation as one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations, but what’s not so well known is its global business success stories. Fexco, Dairymaster, Tricel, Tweak and PulseLearning are just some of the names you might recognise that sprung from this well in the south-west of Ireland.
The county is home to about 70 sci-tech companies, and this regional cluster is still growing according to Aoife O’Brien, programme manager at KerrySciTech.
This is an industry-led group that promotes and supports the science, tech and engineering sectors in the Kerry region. The network is funded by member businesses and has received matching funds under the Enterprise Ireland Regional Enterprise Development Fund.
“With rising living costs and long commutes, not everyone wants to live and work in a city but, more importantly, many companies are choosing to base their headquarters in regional locations and what better place than Kerry?” said O’Brien.
“[Having] large global players such as JRI America, Astellas Pharma and Listal alongside our SME and start-up community has been integral to Kerry emerging as a very exciting destination for tech talent and entrepreneurs,” she added.
And, indeed, the entrepreneurs are coming. With strategic partnerships, support from the Local Enterprise Office, and the establishment of the Tom Crean Business Centre, the AgriTech Centre of Excellence (ACE) and the RDI Hub, a healthy start-up community has developed in the region over the last number of years.
“While many might consider our cluster small and remote, we’ve got form in this space,” said O’Brien. “You only have to look at one of KerrySciTech’s biggest supporters, Kerry Group, which started up from a caravan in Listowel and now has a global workforce of 25,000 and a turnover of €6.4bn.”
We asked KerrySciTech to highlight some of new players to watch in this sci-tech ecosystem. Here are some of those suggestions.
Headquartered in Tralee, Doctonow is a digital healthcare platform focused on reducing and streamlining the administrative workloads of healthcare professionals and their teams.
A future that is patient centric and where individuals have actionable insights at their fingertips!
— Doctonow (@doctonow) January 22, 2019
Founded last year and led by Keith Lyne, the former head of IT in Fexco, Doctonow is about to release a beta version of its product, which applies intelligent automation to mundane and repetitive work in order to allow healthcare professionals more time for higher-value tasks. Doctonow’s vision is for a friction-free self-service experience for patients delivered via voice, web, social and mobile platforms using intelligent virtual assistants.
Also based in Tralee, digital supply chain start-up Wazp was founded by Mariana Kobal and Shane Hassett in 2014. While working together in manufacturing, Kobal and Hasset saw the opportunities 3D printing presented and set upon a goal of making it accessible to all sorts of businesses.
Wazp now offers businesses of all sizes the tools to develop, produce and sell 3D-printed products at volume and at a cost competitive with legacy production techniques. The company quickly quadrupled from its first three team members and has successfully developed relationships with international clients such as Ikea, Puma and Next.
Inspired by the west of Ireland weather, Crua Outdoors went hard on engineering an all-weather tent for a good night’s sleep in the great outdoors. The company developed a unique Thermo Tent insulation that is now patent protected, and its sturdy tents are engineered with an inner compartment using a three-layer blend of poly-cotton and high-density insulation.
— Crua Outdoors (@CruaOutdoors) May 22, 2019
Crua has turned to crowdfunding on platforms such as Kickstarter and Seedrs to fund its expansion, which now includes a New York office. Founder and CEO Derek O’Sullivan is Kerry born and bred, while Australian Dylan Van Cott leads the US arm.
Gallarus Industry Solutions
While strictly the innovation and technology division of DPS Global Group, Gallarus Industry Solutions is still a newcomer in Killarney and has already doubled its team in less than a year. Helping organisations enter the age of industry 4.0, the Gallarus team skillset spans industrial automation, internet of things, data analytics, cybersecurity and much more.
Industry 4.0 facilitates the creation of Smart Factories which can improve the efficiency of traditional manufacturing operations. Does your business have a factory? Is it smart?#Industry4 #SmartFactory #Factory #Manufacturing pic.twitter.com/cmAssl5pq2
— Gallarus Industry Solutions (@GallarusIndSol) August 19, 2019
Gallarus’s selling point is that it promises to deliver industry 4.0 solutions faster and cheaper than its competitors. CEO John McKeon has more than 25 years’ experience as an engineer in a variety of sectors and the company similarly sees its work spanning many industries.
MyAccessHub is helping workplaces become more accessible and inclusive of autistic and neurodiverse people using e-learning and virtual reality tools. Its platform alvrCloud asks users to complete an online course on autism awareness followed by a virtual reality simulation, educating users on neurodiversity and how the workplace can be more inclusive.
MyAccessHub was started by IT Tralee graduates Gearoid Kearney and Miriam O’Sullivan. In 2017, the company was accepted into the Enterprise Ireland New Frontiers Programme, which provided funding, training, mentorship and support in developing the business plan.
Athena Analytics specialises in creating data analytics tools for education. Its tracking tool can follow a student’s progress from entrance exams through in-house exams to State examinations such as the Leaving Certificate, creating alerts when performance dips. It can also follow a student’s journey into further education, providing annual reports on where students are now. The company also provides nationwide comparison reports for Junior and Leaving Cert results.
— Athena Analytics (@athena_schools) August 9, 2019
Company director and data analyst Emily Brick participated in last year’s Government-backed Acorns development initiative for rural women entrepreneurs. She was also named Kerry’s Best Young Entrepreneur and won a €15,000 investment earlier this year.
TribeStarter started life in 2017 as StoryStock, a former Siliconrepublic.com Start-up of the Week. The pivot towards TribeStarter began in 2018 when the company developed the eponymous platform where brands could source original content from their own advocates. TribeStarter allows brands to build and manage a unique library of pictures and videos uploaded by their ‘tribe’, which could be staff, customers, volunteers or other community members and brand ambassadors.
Co-founder Francis Fitzgibbon is CEO of the Tralee-based start-up, while fellow experienced media professional Shane O’Connor fulfils the role of CTO.
Located in Dingle, Standard Access is in the property tech space. Its product replaces the need for keys or fobs for building access with a hardware and software combination that can be controlled remotely. Using a smart hub, receiver and smart lock plugged into an enterprise platform and app, Standard Access’s patent-pending technology opens entryways by playing an encrypted audio snippet, dubbed the Sonic Handshake, through a smartphone.
— Standard Access ‘The Real Estate Engine’ (@standardaccess) July 30, 2018
CEO and founder Damien Browne was director and owner of a commercial real estate investment company for about 15 years. Established in 2014, Standard Access took home gold in the Tech category at the 2015 Bank of Ireland Startup Awards.
Salaso Health Solutions
— Salaso (@Salaso_) December 10, 2018
Founder and CEO Aoife Ní Mhuirí is a trained physiotherapist. Knowing from experience that most patients don’t successfully do the home exercises recommended by physiotherapists, she sought to help them along with a digital health platform. Salaso has a video library of more than 1,000 exercises, as well as tools for tracking patient adherence to an exercise programme.
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