Health firm at ease in its own skin

Health firm at ease in its own skin
Suzanne Moloney: Chief executive and Founder HidraMed Solutions.

A Galway startup is set to revolutionise wound dressings for sufferers of rare diseases, writes Trish Dromey

Galway startup HidraMed Solutions is gearing up for an end-of-year launch of an innovative adhesive-free wound dressing.

The patent-pending dressing has been designed for use in Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) a debilitating skin disease which causes skin lesions and effects 1% of the global population.

Company founder and CEO Suzanne Moloney says this will be the first non-adhesive wound dressing solution on the market, created specifically for people with HS, estimated to number 650,000 in the UK and Ireland alone.

In preparation for the launch , HidraMed is in the process of raising an investment round of €1.25m in funding, which Ms Moloney says is now close to being finalised.

Since the start of the year, the company has reached an agreement with a manufacturer, carried out beta testing, and in recent weeks has taken on two new staff, one for sales and marketing and one for customer service.

“Our plan is to launch in Ireland and the UK at the end of the year and within three months to start selling in both Europe and North America,” said Ms Moloney, explaining the strategy for now is to sell directly to customers online.

Once direct sales are established, HidraMed will begin to work on business-to-business sales, supplying pharmacies and healthcare services.

Following the launch of a range of dressings for the HS market which will sell under the HidraMed brand, the company plans to follow up with the development of a range of adhesive-free dressings suitable for use across all areas of wound care, in particular for use in venous leg ulcers and sacral pressure sores.

The launch comes on foot of seven years of research and effort by Ms Moloney, a HS patient who set out in 2012 to create a better dressing for the chronic skin condition because none of the available ones worked well and all used adhesive which often exacerbated the wounds. Describing the new HidraMed dressing as simple but effective, she expects it to be a gamechanger in the chronic wound care market.

“It provides secure dressing placement and retention. Users can apply, adjust and remove a dressing quickly and easily,” she says, adding that full details of how it works are being kept under wraps until the launch.

She started working on developing a dressing while running her own bakery, but gave this up to become a full-time entrepreneur in March 2016 when she set up HidraMed.

Carrying out expensive research on chronic wound management, she spoke to 500 HS patients as well as numerous dermatologists before trying out a range of different materials for the dressing.

Over the last four years, her company has secured a total of €250,000 in funding, some of it from grant aid and some from winning business competitions.

“We received €50,000 in competitive start funding from Enterprise Ireland, another €50,000 for winning the early stage category in the InterTrade Ireland Seedcorn competition last year while the EIT Health Headstart Programme also provided us with €50,000 in funding,” said Ms Moloney.

Securing a place on Ireland’s first medical accelerator programme BioExel at NUIG last year helped speed up the company’s progress.

Operating from Galway Business Innovation Centre at NUI, the company now has four full-time staff as well as two part-time employees.

The goal for 2020 is to develop international sales of the HS wound dressing solution.

“We expect to be employing at least eight full-time staff by the end of next year and also to have a pipeline of products which will include topical creams which can be used for a variety of skin conditions,” says Ms Moloney.

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