SME has a nose for success

SME has a nose for success
Nasal Medical CEO Martin O'Connell.

Dublin start-up Nasal Medical has launched an innovative allergy nasal filter, writes Trish Dromey.

Dublin start-up Nasal Medical has timed the retail launch of an innovative new allergy nasal filter to coincide with the arrival of the allergy season.

Now going on sale in pharmacies in both the UK and Ireland, it is, according to Nasal Medical CEO and founder Martin O’Connell, “the only filter on the market in the UK and Ireland that fits discretely inside the nose which can successfully prevent pollen dust mould and pet dander from entering the nasal cavity”.

He says the device has been designed to help reduce symptoms associated with airborne allergens and pollution and offers a discrete alternative to wearing an allergy mask.

The allergy filter is the second of Nasal Medical’s products to go on retail sale.

In 2016, it launched the Discrete Snoring Aid, a device which dilates the nasal passage in order to improve breathing.

The company has two other products ready for release — Travel Aid, a nasal filter for air passengers, and Sports Aid, which dilates the nasal passage to increase oxygen intake for athletes.

Already selling its first product to 300-400 pharmacies in Ireland, the company has this year ramped up production following the signing of a distribution agreement with Mylan, one of the world’s largest suppliers of pharmaceutical products.

“This is huge for us, Mylan will distribute both products in 1,000 pharmacies in Ireland and 1,000 in the UK.

“In Europe, we are taking a country by country approach, starting with a launch in Sweden and Italy this month; after that, we will go into France and Germany,” says Mr O’Connell, who expects to be ready to start selling into both the Chinese and the US markets by next year.

Prompted by an outbreak of TB on his family farm in Co Kerry during 2014, Mr O’Connell originally set out to create a filter to prevent cattle from contracting TB.

An electrical engineer who was working in the US at the time, he began researching filter materials and looking at the demand for pollution filter products in China.

He realised that the market for filter devices for humans was larger and more accessible.

Establishing Nasal Medical at the Guinness Enterprise Centre in Dublin in 2015, Mr O’Connell joined forces with Keith Yaeger, who was a mechanical engineer from New York with experience in designing medical devices.

Winning the AIB Start-Up Academy and a regional round in the Seedcorn competition as well as securing feasibility funding from the Local Enterprise Office and Enterprise Ireland, they began working on developing an allergen filter.

It was at this point they discovered, almost by accident, that the device had a second application. Without the filter, it could be used to dilate the nose, relieve congestion, and help ease snoring.

Carrying out trials on the device, they arranged to have it manufactured under contract in Malaysia by Steri-Pack. And in mid-2016, they started selling through a distributor to pharmacies in Ireland.

Enterprise Ireland provided €50,000 in start-up funding which was used to get the product market-ready, to finance Nasal Medical’s first order, and to help get the product recognised as a leading medical device.

The company also applied for global patents. Nasal Medical, which employs a staff of three, is now planning to publish its product trials. It also plans to launch on the retail market with the travel and sports devices.

“We have also developed a Snore Watch app which can monitor and analyse snoring patterns and sleep apnea. This will be ready for launch in a few months,” says Mr O’Connell.

Nasal Medical wants to sell in six countries by the end of the year.

“In the future, we will be expanding our presence in international markets including North America, Asia, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Iran,” he says.

Given that there are 50 million allergy sufferers in the US alone, Mr O’Connell expects the allergy filter to be the company’s biggest seller but also sees very strong prospects for its anti-snoring aid.

Apparently, 300 million people around the world are problem snorers.

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