In the second week of a four-part series looking at the finalists for the Cork Company of the Year Awards, Munster Business Hub editor Alan Healy casts an eye over the contenders in the SME category.
Founded in 2011, AnaBio Technologies is positioned to become a world leader in delivery systems for food, feed and pharmaceutical companies.
They use modern, patent-protected micro-encapsulation technologies to give key ingredients protection against heat, light, oxygen during processing and shelf-life.
Their processes also protect ingredients against acid, digestive enzymes and bile salts to increase functionality at significantly lower dosage concentrations which means significant cost savings for customers.
Due to the instability of ingredients such as fish oils or probiotics, the shelf-life of many products is shortened.
This represents a disadvantage for the industry since retailers exercise pressure to deliver longer shelf-lives.
Through encapsulation, ingredients such as fatty acids can be stabilised against oxidation in order to prolong the life of the final product.
Hence, the quality and value of the product will be improved for global distribution purposes, posing less stressful conditions on the manufacturer.
AnaBio’s encapsulation technology can also provide taste masking. There are many ingredients that have not succeeded in the market as a simple result of bad taste.
Bitterness is a cause of hydrophobic peptides, which can be easily masked using AnaBio encapsulation technology.
Founded and led by Sineád Bleiel the company operates a purpose-built centre-of-excellence located in Carrigtowhill, Co Cork where it offers customers full research and development from initial concept, ingredient optimisation, formulation, flavour improvement and product testing and enhancements.
AnaBio’s core asset is intellectual property relating to a portfolio of 13 patents combined with knowledge related to various production processes.
These patents are focused on encapsulation technologies originating from strong scientific evidence, facilitating the controlled-release of peptides, probiotics, nutraceuticals, nutrients, minerals, enzymes, bacteria, vaccines, cultures and the protection and taste masking of a wide range of sensitive food and sports ingredients.
Over the last two-and-a-half years, AnaBio has been granted full US and EU approval for eight of 13 patents in their portfolio along with company growth of more than 220% in sales.
The company is also involved in a feeding program for delivery of probiotic to developing countries of the world to ensure that all cultures have the chance to maintain a good nutritious diet.
Dr Bleiel said being named as a finalist for the Cork Company of the Year is an unbelievable feeling and an opportunity that is truly humbling.
“It is an honour to be included with such talented companies that are also shortlisted and be able to improve people’s health and well-being,” she said.
International reach gives edge to Hopkins Communications
In that time, it has developed from a small Cork business to become one of the largest independent marketing communications agency in the region, with offices in Cork and Limerick and a presence in Dublin.
A member of the world-wide 3AW Network of communications agencies, it employs 20 full-time professionals and 60 part-time staff.
It is also a recognised Facebook Partner Agency and is the first Irish partner of the Global Digital Ad Exchange StackAdapt.
Owners Mark and Judy Hopkins and their teams have built a successful, and people-centred media business.
They work with diverse business categories in Ireland and internationally.
Their clients range from international, to national and regional entities, large corporations to SMEs, brands, festivals and events, state bodies and charities.
Key services include advertising, graphic design and print, public relations, event management, promotions, digital media and web development.
Instead of dealing with several service providers such as design, print houses, or web developers, clients appreciate that everything is centralised, ensuring their campaigns are on message.
Managing director Mark Hopkins said that the atmosphere within Hopkins Communications is a high-octane environment and the team takes huge pride in producing and executing quality, creative strategies and campaigns for its clients.
Highlights of 2019 include projects in Barcelona, San Diego, London, San Francisco and Las Vegas with plans for projects in Japan, Texas and London in 2020.
“Over the past three decades, my business partner Judy and I, our dynamic founder Mary, our director Donogh and our experienced team have achieved great success and continued growth while still maintaining the values of a family-run enterprise,” he said.
“Reaching the final of the Cork Chamber SME company of the year awards is a fantastic testament to the diligence and efforts of all our staff, past and present, since 1990,”he said.
With sustainability in mind, Hopkins is currently devising a green team in an effort to make a difference to the wellness of the world aiming to become a more sustainable, eco-friendly and green office and organisation.
“We are acutely aware that collaborative customer relationships are critical to the survival of any business and we take great pride in the knowledge that we have a large number of clients, local, national and international, who have remained with us through both challenging and prosperous times.”
“Without them, we wouldn’t be here today, and we wouldn’t have received this wonderful recognition,” he said.
Keelvar was founded following seven years of research by Alan Holland, a former University College Cork (UCC) computer science lecturer.
The company helps some of the world’s biggest firms to optimise the sourcing of goods and services by improving speed and spend.
Managing €60bn of the approximately €2tn worldwide spend is software developed here in Cork by Mr Holland’s team in Keelvar.
Customers today include Coca- Cola, Daimler, BMW, and Siemens spanning across industries, from electronics to automotive to food and beverages.
Keelvar’s headquarters in Cork is growing significantly, with the office doubling in size in the past two years — it now has almost 40 staff.
Few other Cork companies its size and dynamic have a customer base that spans the magnitude of Keelvar’s.
The company draws on the pool of high-quality computer science graduates in Cork and is steadily hiring locally.
Innovation is central to Keelvar’s way of working.
More than 80% of its expenditure is on R&D and the company holds a belief that diligent reinvestment in its product yields a flywheel effect, whereby the product quality sells itself and the company garners a faster and more efficient sales pipeline via customer and bidder referrals.
Keelvar has defined a new category of strategic sourcing software and is supplying this to global enterprises.
This new category is sourcing automation, a software framework that allows sourcing teams to automate their sourcing processes.
Sourcing automation uses sourcing bots to set up and run events, with the sourcing team simply answering questions from the bot and then approving the event before the event is executed and run by the bot.
The results are then provided to the sourcing team.
Sourcing automation uses an organisation’s past events and historical data to learn and to identify patterns and best practice within the organisation.
This allows the sourcing bot to make intelligent recommendations to the team when setting up an event.
Despite its global reach, Keelvar is very proud of its Cork roots and heritage with both the company’s UCC origin, CIT Campus location, and the initial paying customer being Cork City Council.
The company plans to increase staff numbers to 85 by the end of 2021 and has identified a new office location in Cork.
“We’re proud of our UCC research origins and firmly believe that advanced scientific breakthroughs can be key to building category-leading world-class companies,” Mr Holland said.
“It also makes the work more exciting and challenging.
“Being a finalist in the highly- competitive Cork Chamber Awards is a huge honour and is a testament to the fact that consistent hard work can build international success.”