Tuesday 27 June 2017

Creganna founder Ian Quinn backs Galway start-up aiming to save diabetics' legs and feet

Bluedrop aims to hire at least five new employees over the next 12 months in the areas of software engineering, computer vision, medical device R&D, quality and regulatory affairs (Stock picture)
Bluedrop aims to hire at least five new employees over the next 12 months in the areas of software engineering, computer vision, medical device R&D, quality and regulatory affairs (Stock picture)

John Reynolds

Ian Quinn, co-founder of the Galway medical device firm Creganna Medical, which was sold earlier this year for €820m, has emerged as an angel investor in Bluedrop Medical - a Galway-based medical technology start-up that aims to save diabetics from amputations.

The firm has raised €600,000 to develop and commercialise an internet-connected device which scans a person's foot to predict the formation of, and detection of diabetic foot ulcers. Another Galway medical device entrepreneur, Paul Gilson, founder of Novate Medical, MedNova and Embo Medical, also participated in the funding of Bluedrop, as did Enterprise Ireland's High Potential Start-up fund.

Bluedrop's founders are two 28-year-old medical device engineers, Chris Murphy - who was also the Irish winner of the prestigious James Dyson Design Award in 2011 - and Simon Kiersey.

"By detecting ulcers early, our technology can prevent hundreds of thousands of amputations. It is estimated that every 20 seconds somewhere in the world, a limb is lost as the result of diabetic foot disease. It can potentially save billions of euro each year in healthcare costs. The amount of amputations in the US every year alone is estimated to cost €15bn," Murphy said.

"Our device looks like an electronic weighing scales you might have in your bathroom, but it performs a daily scan of a patient's feet. It then sends the data to the cloud for analysis using advanced algorithms capable of detecting abnormalities.

"Treatment is easier with early detection and outcomes and costs are greatly improved. Up to 25pc of diabetics will develop a foot ulcer at some point in their life. These can take months to heal - and if not treated early they can result in amputation. There are eight a week here, and up to 86,000 every year in the US.

"They can also be life-threatening. The five-year mortality rate after amputation is 68pc - higher than almost all forms of cancer."

Bluedrop aims to hire at least five new employees over the next 12 months in the areas of software engineering, computer vision, medical device R&D, quality and regulatory affairs, as they complete the next phase of product development and conduct pilot clinical work. The firm plans to raise a further funding round within the next year so it can finalise product development, obtain FDA approval and launch the product in the US.

Ian Quinn founded Creganna with his brother Niall in 1980 and it grew to employ 2,000 people around the world, with 400 companies as customers. Following its sale to manufacturer TE Connectivity in February, it is thought he had a windfall from shares he had retained after a sale to investment giant Permira in 2010.

Sunday Indo Business

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