The only Irish company specialising in mass spectrometry analysis, used to detect food fraud and identify drug abuse in sports, EireChrom in Tipperary is preparing to take on the might of the multinationals.
The companyhas provided bespoke solutions to companies in Ireland since 2013 and uses mass spectrometry in the clinical analysis of chemicals, food and beverages as well as research and forensic analysis.
EireChrom founder and managing director PJ Moloney is an an analytical chemist who observed the growth of the industry and saw an opportunity to establish an Irish company which could provide “end-to-end mass spectrometry solutions”.
Providing faster and more accurate results than previously obtainable, mass spectrometry has vast applications, says Mr Moloney.
“It gives a fingerprint of any substance and is used in drug development and discovery, environmental as well as food and beverage testing, forensic toxicology, and biomarker research.”
Just two years after it was set up, EireChrom has 25 clients, a staff of five and is about to open a new laboratory and training facility at the Questum Innovation Centre in Clonmel.
Customers for mass spectrometry solutions which involve consultancy, hardware and software include Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital, PepsiCo, BioClin and St James Hospital in Dublin.
“The State laboratories have been a client since 2013 when mass spectrometry was used for analysis during the horse meat scandal,” says Mr Moloney.
“The Department of Agriculture is also a client, and uses this technique to analyse water and milk and to analyse and detect pesticides.”
Outside of Ireland, clients include a biopharma company in Belgium and another in the UK.
“In 2016, we are planning to develop sales in the UK,” says Mr Moloney.
“We have also identified good market potential in Northern Europe and plan to target Iceland, Finland and Sweden in the next 24 months.”
The opening of the 4,000 sq ft laboratory and training facility is key to EireChrom’s ambitious growth plan.
The company roadmap also involves the development of mass spectrometry kits which the company plans to sell globally.
Although the market is currently dominated by multinationals, Mr Moloney sees an opening for EireChrom products of this type.
Because of growing international concerns about food safety and food fraud he says there is a strong demand for this type of kit in the food and beverage sector.
“Mass spectrometry can be used to determine whether olive oil is olive oil, whether vodka is vodka, or whether cod is really cod,” he says.
Plans will also involve a bid to become the only Irish company with World Anti-Doping Accreditation.
EireChrom set up at City Gate, Mahon, Cork, where it still maintains an office, but its new headquarter in Clonmel has further space for expansion.
For the first two year, Mr Moloney worked on his own but, with the establishment of a new facility, it has now taken on four staff, including Tipperary hurler Kieran Berrigan as business development manager.
Initially funded by a €25,000 bank loan and Mr Moloney’s own reserves, EireChrom has recently received €15,000 from the Optimise Fund and €25,000 from the Ryan Academy.
Currently in discussions with Enterprise Ireland, Mr Moloney is hopeful that EireChrom will get both High Potential Start Up status and funding in 2016.
Shortlisted for this year’s pharmaceutical industry awards, EireChrom has ambitious growth plans.
“We are targeting sales of €2.5m this year and expect this to grow to €5m in two years. We plan to double staff next year and again in 2017,” says Mr Moloney.
EireChrom is the only Irish firm to specialise in mass spectrometry analysis and have ambitious growth plans
The State has been a client since the horse meat scandal
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