Thursday 21 June 2018

Heavy hitters join Conroy's €100m health tech fund

Ex-Unilever and ABP Foods bosses join John Conroy's new wellness venture

The former chief executive of Merrion Capital, John Conroy, has launched a €100m health and wellness fund that has a strong emphasis on tech
The former chief executive of Merrion Capital, John Conroy, has launched a €100m health and wellness fund that has a strong emphasis on tech
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

The former chief executive of Merrion Capital, John Conroy, has launched a €100m health and wellness fund that has a strong emphasis on tech.

Conroy is pitching the Acton Health and Wellness Fund to family offices and institutions, with interest from Irish investors expected to be keen.

Several high-profile business people are involved in the project, which aims to invest in up to 16 companies.

His high-powered advisory team will be chaired by former Unilever ceo Niall FitzGerald and will include entrepreneur Mary Ann O'Brien. Several leading medical and food experts are also involved, including professor Richard Reilly, director of bioengineering at Trinity College.

The investment committee is chaired by Paul Finnerty, the former ceo of ABP Foods, and he is joined by Trevor Bowen, a former director at Principle Management - which managed U2.

Conroy has been working on the project for some time and it previously emerged that former world champion athlete Eamonn Coghlan and former vice-chairman of Eircom Con Scanlon were involved. The fund plans to invest in companies that are innovating in the areas of health and wellness.

"The two silos we are focusing on is consumer-focused digital health and also functional foods. We feel the opportunity is big in these areas," Conroy said. "You have this dichotomy, a section of the population is fitter than ever and another section has major health issues."

There are several opportunities for businesses delivering solutions, he said, such as "trying to reduce the reliance on primary care, and other trends are that more people want to take control of their own health and more people are using more technology".

Conroy believes that Ireland is uniquely positioned to develop companies in the health and wellness area give the strong presences of global medtech companies here, as well as the thriving food sector, which has produced world-class companies such as Glanbia and Kerry.

He believes that with the fund's backing some emerging companies have the opportunity to become international players. Conroy founded Merrion Capital in 2000 when he and six colleagues left NCB Stockbrokers. They were backed by boutique investment bank Allen & Co, which has high-level business connections in the US. Conroy and Allen exited in 2014.

See interview page 6

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