ReaDI-Watch: SaaS for R&D coming out of NovaUCD

14 Mar 2022

Dave Byrne. Image: ReaDI-Watch

This father-son start-up aims to help companies make the most of research, development and innovation with cloud-based project management tools.

“We built ReaDI-Watch because RD&I [research, development and innovation] needs to accelerate in today’s world,” said Dave Byrne.

“Climate constraints, social shortfalls, sustainable practices and the rise of ‘digital’ are unprecedented changes and challenges that business are facing today, that require design-thinking, problem-solving, collaboration and strong leadership to overcome.”

According to Byrne, “In years to come, trillions will be invested by governments across the globe to stimulate businesses innovating in their products, processes, technology, organisational structures and business models. Companies are not yet equipped to manage this scale and speed of RD&I and need support to drive them forward.”

This brings us back to ReaDI-Watch, Byrne’s start-up founded last year to give businesses a digital framework for R&D best practice.

‘We experienced first-hand the challenges that companies across the globe face when investing in innovation and R&D’

ReaDI-Watch is built for businesses of all sizes conducting research and development across sectors such as engineering, manufacturing, software, telecoms, industrial automation, agritech, food and beverage, and construction. Its current target markets are Ireland, the UK, Canada and the US, where Byrne said investment in RD&I has reached about $450bn per annum.

“These companies are (or can be) recipients of vast amounts of government funding supports which are increasing by a CAGR of 10pc annually,” Byrne added.

Byrne has a background supporting research and development with a previous consulting business he grew with his father, Gerry, called GB Innovation. Prof Gerry Byrne is the former dean of engineering at University College Dublin (UCD) and has more than 30 years’ experience in applied R&D and innovation.

“[We] experienced first-hand the challenges that companies across the globe face when investing in innovation and R&D,” said the younger Byrne.

“Business leaders and staff putting so much capital, passion and time to drive their business forward, but struggling to deliver a valuable return, to claim R&D tax credits, to impress investors and customers, to win innovation grant funding, and to get the recognition and reward they deserve.”

Together, the Byrne family duo realised that the business processes underpinning R&D needed a SaaS solution. “So we built one ourselves,” said the ReaDI-Watch founder and CEO, whose father serves as the start-up’s chief scientific officer.

Byrne is a BComm International graduate of UCD and also completed an MSc in finance at the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School. He is now building his business out of NovaUCD, the university’s entrepreneur centre.

“The supports and network for us there are a fantastic enabler of growth,” said Byrne.

He also benefited from participation in the Enterprise Ireland-funded New Frontiers programme at TU Dublin, which he said offered guidance on how to scale the business.

“From day one, there are business supports out there to guide your start-up along the right path, to scale in sales, exports, team size and investor fundraising,” he said.

However, one challenge ReaDI-Watch has faced is in being a fairly novel solution. “While many people recognise and feel the pain points associated with R&D and innovation in companies, they have no direct benchmark against which to compare our platform,” Byrne explained. “It’s our job to work on this and to de-mystify this topic in industry.”

Byrne sees ReaDI-Watch as a “category builder” and is eager to explain what it is the company does to larger audiences.

“We have built a secure, responsive web application which serves as an R&D and innovation management system for our customers,” he said.

This cloud-based system offers users real-time R&D project management, with access to reports designed to meet tax credit and grant funding requirements. Layered onto the software service is support and guidance, business diagnostics and CPD programmes from ReaDI-Watch.

“The ‘secret sauce’ is the years of expertise, RD&I and technology management methods and structures we have embedded into the platform for companies to get a kick-start,” said Byrne.

“Without any extra learning curve or adoption time, our customers benefit from best-in-class traceability, automated R&D tax credit and grant reports and, most importantly, visibility to track the return on RD&I investments and make informed decisions.”

‘Our momentum is really strong’

The ultimate goal for ReaDI-Watch is to become the world-leading provider of streamlined and efficient R&D management tools.

“We want to disrupt how RD&I is managed around the globe,” said Byrne.

“Our momentum is really strong. Since we kicked off last year, we have built up a base of strong Irish customers. Our next key milestones are to win international paying customers, and to strengthen and grow our channel partnerships.”

Early, steady growth at the start-up is underway. It now amounts to a team of eight while additional key team members are being recruited.

“We will be looking to raise funding in order to fuel our UK and North American expansion later this year,” said Byrne.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.