Backed by €4.2m in EU funding, Cork company PMD Solutions is preparing to go global with an innovative new breathing monitor which alerts hospital staff to early signs of respiratory distress.
Called RespiraSense, the monitor is described by company CEO and founder, Myles Murray, as “the world’s first continuous and accurate discrete sensor that measures the mechanics of respiration”.
He says that early detection of respiratory rate deterioration means that action can be taken to prevent patients from becoming critical — which results in “better outcomes for patients, reduced hospital stays and cost savings for hospitals”.
While there are other breathing monitoring systems on the market, Mr Murray is aiming to establish RespiraSense as the industry standard in the early detection of respiratory compromise.
“It is more robust and comprehensive than competitors’ products using traditional methods which are prone to errors caused by patient movement and background noise.”
The product, which started out as his final year college project in 2011, has recently been allocated €4.2m in 2020 SME Horizon funding to be used for commercialisation and scaling up.
Targeting a global market which is expected to be worth €2bn by 2020, Mr Murray expects PMD Solutions to achieve a turnover of “at least €20m by 2020”.
Employing a staff of 10, the company launched on the market in 2015 and RespiraSense is now being used by two hospitals in Ireland, one in Germany and one in Hong Kong.
PMD Solutions is also working on two new products; a monitor to detect sleep apnea, which is due for release, later this year, as well as a post hospital discharge monitor, which will be launched next year.
In 2016 Mr Murray aims to ramp up sales in Europe with a view to entering both the US and the Chinese markets during 2017.
Back in 2011, as he searched for a project for his final year as a mechanical engineering student, Mr Murray got inspiration from Professor Stephen Cusack, head of the Emergency Department at CUH who told him that hospitals were hugely hampered by inability to detect early signs of respiratory distress.
The concept for the respiratory monitor won Mr Murray the CIT prize for Innovation, €4,000, and an invitation to participate in the New Frontiers start-up programme at the Rubicon Centre.
“When I started in 2011 the main aim was to establish feasibility — in 2012 the focus was on proving the model and the technology. By 2012 we had a prototype and after that it was all about fundraising”.
Assisted initially by Cork Local Enterprise Office, PMD Solutions took part in the NDRC accelerator programme in Dublin and became an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up in 2014.
Currently employing a staff of ten, it has raised €950,000 to date.
Key steps along the way included the hiring of the first two staff in 2012, securing the European CE mark in 2014 and finding a company, Gentian Services in Clare, to produce the monitoring systems under contract and handle shipping.
Early this year PMD Solutions signed with three distributors, one each in Ireland, Germany and Hong Kong which have undertaken to handle the sales, leaving Mr Murray and his team free to concentrate on R&D.
“We targeted Hong Kong in order to get a foothold in Asia and we chose Germany because it is one of the most progressive markets for healthcare,’’ says Mr Murray.
Sales targets for this year include hospitals in Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Japan.
In preparation for a launch in the US and China in 2017 Mr Murray is also negotiating a partnership deal with a US multinational.
Over the next 18 months PMD Solutions plans to double its staff size to 20.
In preparation for this the company plans to leave the Rubicon centre in the next few weeks and move to a larger premises at Bishopstown House on the Model Farm Road.
Rubicon Centre, Cork