Innovative Dublin company Beats Medical has created an app which turns a smartphone into a medical device used to deliver treatment for Parkinson’s disease.
Launched on the market this year, the app works by providing Parkinson’s sufferers with a beat which they use to cue movement and overcome symptoms.
“Our biggest markets now are UK and Ireland but we have users from across the globe, from the US, Australia, Singapore, and Europe,” says chief executive and founder Ciara Clancy who is now fundraising with a view to expanding the business further.
In recent weeks the company was named as one of 18 finalists in this year’s Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, an international competition that assists early-stage female entrepreneurs.
In April, Beats Medical participated in a two-week Blackbox Connect accelerator programme in Silicon Valley sponsored by Google.
Ms Clancy estimates that there are 10m people worldwide who suffer from Parkinson’s and who could be helped by the Beats Medical app.
“We are an ambitious company which aims to have a multimillion-euro turnover within two years,” Ms Clancy says.
Prior to entering the entrepreneurial arena, Ms Clancy was a physiotherapist working with Parkinson’s sufferers. She used metronome treatment and beats to help cue movement and prevent freezing symptoms. “I decided to step back and research the algorithm that would allow for an individual beat prescription daily, outside of the clinic.”
Using private funding, she set up in Dublin city centre, recruiting a doctor and securing the technical services needed to develop the app. Helped by a feasibility study grant from Enterprise Ireland, the company researched the area and, over the following two years, developed a prototype and tested it on Parkinson’s sufferers in Ireland.
In late 2014 when development of the app was being finalised, Beats Medical was named by the local enterprise office as winner of the overall award in the Dublin City Best Young Entrepreneur.
Employing two full-time staff and one part-time worker, the company was ready for launch in January this year and began selling the app, which costs €1 a day, on an annual subscription basis. “We had brand ambassadors who used it and spread the word and we have focused on delivering the message to organisations and associations working with Parkinson’s sufferers in Ireland and the UK. We have also used digital marketing,” says Ms Clancy, who established an office in the UK in February.
The company has been assisted by Enterprise Ireland which provided competitive start funding last year and this year identified Beats Medical as a High-Potential Start up.
In preparation to increase scale, Ms Clancy has signed up an advisory board which includes tech entrepreneur Sean Melly of Etel as chairman; Dr Emma Stokes, vice-p[resident of the World Confederation of Physical Therapy; and Graham Merriman, former head of online global sales at Phillips. Neuroscientist Professor Ian Robertson has also joined the board.
“We are first to market with this product and have an international patent pending. Our plan now is to get to users across the globe as quickly as possible,” says Ms Clancy.
The company’s key target is the US which has an estimated 1m Parkinson’s sufferers. Ms Clancy says future plans include launching the app in other languages.
The company is continuing with R&D and is working on developing technology which will alleviate other symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. “Walking difficulties are the most prominent symptoms but there are others, and we will continue to innovate in order to help manage these,” says Ms Clancy.
She says Beats Medical app has been helped by the Silicon Valley accelerator programme and by being selected as the only Irish finalist in this year’s Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards. “We are getting exposure on the international stage and this helps significantly in spreading our message.”
As part of its expansion plans, Beats Medical expects to recruit an additional five staff over the next year.
Beats Medical seeks to help the estimated 10m people in the world suffering from Parkinson’s, writes Trish Dromey
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