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Irish medtech FoodMarble raises €1.2m for US push

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Testing: HBAN investment consultant Niamh Sterling, left, and FoodMarble CEO Aonghus Shortt

Testing: HBAN investment consultant Niamh Sterling, left, and FoodMarble CEO Aonghus Shortt

Testing: HBAN investment consultant Niamh Sterling, left, and FoodMarble CEO Aonghus Shortt

Medtech firm FoodMarble has raised €1.2m from venture capitalists to grow its North America sales and boost its R&D efforts.

The Dublin start-up makes breath-testing devices for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The condition affects an estimated one in eight people worldwide - including the CEO's fiancée.

"This was very much a personal project for me in the beginning," said chief executive Aonghus Shortt.

"My fiancée, Grace, suffers from IBS and it was often difficult for us to plan outings because she was unsure how she would feel. Once the product was developed, we knew that we had something very powerful and we wanted to offer it to others as an aid for them to be able to get on with everyday life comfortably," he said.

The €1.2m is coming from the medtech syndicate of the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN), Enterprise Ireland, US venture capital firm SOSV and Irish-based Delta Partners.

Mr Shortt said FoodMarble would use the cash injection to hike its R&D spending and expand its footprint in the US and Canada markets. It already sells its devices on Amazon and this month will hit the shelves in Canada's Best Buy outlets.

"Along with our expansion in the US, we are continually innovating to ensure that we retain our position as the market leader for personal breath-testing devices," he said. "With the support and advice of our business angels, we are well on target to achieve sales of €4m by the end of 2021."

FoodMarble's core product is the world's first personal digestive tracker. It helps users to identify and control food intolerances by breathing into the device and having the results analysed on an accompanying smartphone app.

It has sold more than 15,000 units of its digestive breath tester, which currently retails for £178 (€193) online.

Its increased R&D efforts will focus on partnerships with US hospitals, where the device is gaining traction during the Covid-19 pandemic as a way for people to monitor their digestive problems without going to a doctor's office.

Consultants from HBAN - a joint venture of the Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland and Invest Northern Ireland agencies - also are helping FoodMarble make business connections in the US.

"FoodMarble's impressive sales in its first year of trading instantly impressed our investors. By uncovering a worldwide market gap, the potential for growth is huge," said HBAN investment consultant Niamh Sterling.

"Business angel investment is extremely valuable to start-ups like FoodMarble, who have their eye on international expansion," she said. "Their multinational industry experience allows them to share insights and connections that can be transformational for a new business. This has already opened doors for FoodMarble in the US market and is supporting their continued innovation."

Irish Independent