Mattress technology developer breaks into US consumer market

The adjustable mattress technology developed by Irish company SimCairMedical/iCON Innovations, and now licensed with US firm Customatic in a deal focused on the American retail market.

By Joe Dermody

Unique adjustable mattress technology developed in East Cork by SimCairMedical/iCON Innovations is to be sold in the USA in a licensing deal with Customatic, a leading innovator in the mattress and adjustable bed market.

This US-Irish partnership is likely to see SimCair grow at a significant pace.

Many staff in hospitals and nursing homes will be familiar with the use of SimCair’s technology in beds, allowing the user to easily adjust the sleep surface to their firmness or softness preference.

The SimCair Medical Mattress range is widely used across Europe, notably helping long-term bedridden patients minimise pressure ulcers (bedsores).

Users can easily adjust the bed to their liking. A key part of the innovation is that it is non-powered technology, without the need for pumps, remotes or power supply.

The deal with Customatic will now see SimCair/iCON Innovations offer its medically approved and patented technology to consumers across the USA. Massachusetts-based Customatic will use SimCair’s technology in its mattresses, which will be manufactured in the States.

“There has been a lot of global interest in this technology,” said Noel Daly, founder and CEO of SimCair. “We are in early stage discussions with investors who can see the global potential. When I first came up with the concept, I looked at the overall market potential — notably in Europe, Asia and the USA.

“We are really delighted with the initial response that we have received already from prospective investors and we will welcome further interest,” Noel said. “This is Irish-owned technology which is competing in the global market.

“The opportunity is potentially larger than any of our previous undertakings, so we need to scale it up relatively quickly.”

In 2017, SimCair Medical developed and launched an Infection Control Mattress for hospitals and other medical facilities around Europe.

With infections like MRSA on the rise, Noel created the iCON Infection Control Support Surface which utilises his patented technology to help prevent and minimise cross-infection between people in hospitals.

He says innovation is key in all elements of the business, from sourcing to selling. He retains a heavy focus on writing patents.

He also clearly has a very keen eye for seizing market opportunities.

“There has been a big increase in the number of online retailers for mattresses,” said Noel.

“That has really opened up the market. Our technology is proven in the medical space across Europe. Now we’re bringing it to consumers, with licences in the US and Asian markets. It’s not available yet to Irish consumers.

“We design and develop the technology in Cork. We retain ownership of the IP, the design as well as the management of the channels around the world. We also work with partners around the world who manufacture mattresses.

“We don’t manufacture mattresses, we have the magic component which makes the mattress adjustable. Our product is relatively lightweight and can be easily transported around the world. We supply to various sources based in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. I think that model is the way of the future for a lot of sectors.”

A native of East Cork, Noel Daly began inventing products in the mid-1990s. He was named 1999 Shell Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Since then, he and his companies have been developing and launching new technologies for global markets in many sectors.

Mr Daly speaks very highly of Irish universities, which offer “a great bank of resources” to companies like his. As SimCair expands, he expects to recruit engineers, designers and other high-quality roles.

“We expect to have created a significant number of high-value jobs here in Ireland within two years, focusing mainly on R&D, innovation and marketing.”

SimCair launched the new mattress technology range at the US furniture industry’s leading Trade Show Exhibition in Las Vegas at the end of July. Customer feedback on the product has been very positive, and interest from retailers and the industry in the USA exceeded Noel’s expectations.

“This is a strong innovation in mattress technology for use at home,” Noel said.

Noel Daly, CEO of SimCairMedical/iCON Innovations, an Irish company whose technology is already widely used in hospitals and nursing homes across the EU, and now breaking into the US consumer market.

“We have been licensing and selling SimCair Medical Support Surfaces and iCON Infection Control Mattress products for the healthcare market for the last number of years, and we decided last year to work on adapting our medical mattress technology for use at home.

"A unique core has been incorporated into domestic mattresses which will allow the user to easily adjust the sleep surface to their firmness or softness preference. This is non-powered technology, without the need for pumps, remotes or power supply, so it’s an innovative solution.

“The design also allows the product to be compressed at the factory to a fraction of its full size and shipped by courier to the customer’s door. Our next step is to close deals with licensees and with resellers in EU and Asia.”

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