Firm cleaning up with its hospital plan

Tackling the problem of cross-contamination in hospitals, Waterford company CMC Hygea has come up with a practical solution — a basin and liner system that incorporates germ-killing anti-microbial technology.

Firm cleaning up with its hospital plan

Developed over three years, the start-up has registered a patent application and is making plans to start selling it in Ireland, the UK, and Europe.

“We have had a first batch of 1,000 manufactured and are planning to launch at the UK Infection Prevention Society exhibition in Glasgow in October,” says company founder and managing director Michael Malone

Mr Malone believes the CMC protection against infection and loss has the potential to be widely used. “Healthcare-associated infections are a growing threat worldwide,” he says, adding that the cost runs to billions of euro globally.

A self-employed paving contractor during the boom, Mr Malone started looking into the area of infection control in hospitals in 2010 when a friend who worked in healthcare observed that cross-contamination could occur during assisted washing as a result of bacteria on plastic basins.

“When norovirus was spreading in hospitals my friend commented that a covered basin would be a major improvement,” Mr Malone says.

Researching the area, he started working on finding a way to combat the risk of acquired infections when assisted washing is being performed. He developed a basin with a cover and discovered that plastic could be impregnated with anti-microbial agents effective at combating the growth of bacteria.

Deciding that the idea had commercial potential, he recruited three investors and started work on the project. Setting up in a spare room, Mr Malone spent two years talking to health professionals and finalising the design.

CMC secured a feasibility study grant from Waterford City Enterprise Board in 2012. By 2013, it had developed and tested a prototype which it registered with the Health Products regulatory Authority. “They didn’t have a category for this type of product and had to create a new one,” Mr Malone says, adding that a basin with a liner and antimicrobial qualities is unique.

“We sent it to the UK for testing in an accredited lab at the end of last year. It was found to kill 99.99% of pathogens.... We applied for a patent in mid-2013 and have been granted a PCT for 30 months.”

The next step for CMC was to find a manufacturer that could produce the product with the impregnated anti-microbial agents. Mr Malone found a plastic injection moulding manufacturer in Wicklow and is sourcing liners in the UK but hopes to find a manufacturer in Ireland.

“When all of this was in place we had to get a CE mark — the European manufacturing symbol which lets us sell anywhere in the world. We got this in the last few months.’’

The product was trialled in a private hospital for three months this year and Mr Malone says the feedback has been positive.

Three months ago, CMC moved to the IDA Industrial Park in Waterford and has recruited its first full-time employee to join Mr Malone. Derrick Watson, who had 20 years’ experience in infection control sales, took on the role of sales manager.

CMC has now entered into a distribution agreement with an Irish medical distributor and has had discussions with the head of purchasing from the HSE.

Having secured investment of €70,000 since its inception, CMC has recently applied to Enterprise Ireland for competitive start funding, and if successful will use this to develop sales internationally.

Mr Malone says that further testing and trialling is now taking place and that future plans include showing the CMC product at international exhibitions, researching other products, as well as taking on additional staff and launching a website.

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