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Start-up firm pins its hopes on going Dutch

OceanModus is eyeing up new horizons for its paperless solutions aimed at the manufacturing pharmaceutical industry, with the help of start-up funds from Enterprise Ireland and its new Dutch owner, writes Trish Dromey

By acquiring a large Dutch international company as an owner, Cork start-up company OceanModus has opened up new horizons and market possibilities.

Specialising in paperless solutions for the manufacturing pharmaceutical industry, the three person operation has — this month — been taken over by ATS Global, an independent solutions provider for manufacturing companies, which has operations in 14 countries.

As a subsidiary of the Dutch company, OceanModus has now been re-named ATS Ireland. "New investment in the company will lead to the creation of over 20 jobs in the next three years, enabling us to service Irish and international customers," says Desmond Savage, one of two founders of OceanModus who are continuing as directors.

Founded in 2009, OceanModus set out to develop Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) specifically for small to medium sized companies in the pharmaceutical and medical device space in Ireland.

With the resources and assistance of its parent company, ATS Ireland now aims to expand into the food and beverage space and to develop an international customer base.

In 2009, Mr Savage and OceanModus co-founder Thomas Wyczawski, observed that large multi-national companies were using MES solutions to create electronic batch records and saw an opportunity to provide this type of technology for smaller companies.

An engineer and a software developer, the two men had worked together for a large multinational medical device company developing this type of solution.

Talking to some medium sized companies in this field, they discovered that there was a lot of interest in the technology and started carrying out some market research.

In the summer of 2009, Mr Savage and Mr Wyczawski decided to set-up OceanModus.

Mr Savage had recently finished a contract as an engineer and devoted all his time into setting up the company, while Mr Wyczawski worked part-time on the project.

"In 2009, Enterprise Ireland put us in touch with Neil Jordan of the Cork Business Innovation Centre (Cork BIC) and we completed an Enterprise Start II programme," Mr Savage explains.

With the help of the Cork BIC, OceanModus secured grant aid from Enterprise Ireland to start developing software.

In 2010, Mr Savage enrolled in the Genesis Enterprise Programme, an Enterprise Ireland-backed initiative for start-ups at Cork Institute of Technology.

Given the economic climate, Mr Savage says they opted not to seek outside investment at the start, but to fund the company mainly from their own resources.

"We worked from home, kept costs to a minimum and used contract workers to help develop the software," he says.

First invoiced work came from a contract to develop software for Boston Scientific and complete consultancy projects with two other pharmaceutical companies.

The money from these contracts enabled OceanModus to hire a software developer and to continue to work on the company’s own product.

"We have developed a core product which can be configured to an individual customer’s requirement," explains Mr Savage.

The company is now at an advanced stage with two customers for this product and expects to make it operational in the summer.

Attending a conference in the UK last year, the directors had a chance meeting with representatives from the Dutch company ATS Global.

"A few weeks later, ATS phoned and asked if we would be interested in taking on a partner or in an acquisition," says Mr Savage.

The founders saw obvious advantages in the proposal. "We see ATS as a good match, since it develops software services around MES.

"It is a large company with an established customer base, with tools for sales, marketing, invoicing and software development and has the resources to help us grow the company," Mr Savage adds.

Mr Savage says there are huge opportunities for this type of technology, which is successfully being deployed in the pharmaceutical industry in order to allow companies to achieve regulatory compliance, but which has now been recognised to have applications in other areas; such as the food and beverage industries.

"The technology manages and monitors work- in-progress on the factory floor. The advantages over traditional paper-based systems are that it reduces costs, improves quality, efficiency, accuracy and traceability. Companies in the dairy industry are now taking an interest in it."

Supported by Cork City Enterprise Board, ATS Ireland intends to take on an additional five people this year and increase its staff to 20 over the next three years. The company aims to achieve a turnover of €1.5m by 2014.

Fact file

* Company: ATS Ireland (formerly OceanModus).

* Location: Webworks, Eglinton Street, Cork.

* Parent company: ATS Global.

* Managing director: Desmond Savage.

* Staff: Three.

* Business: Develops manufacturing systems software.

* website: www.oceanmodus.com & www.ats-global.com

By Trish Dromey

This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Monday, January 23, 2012

Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/business/kfidkfaugboj/rss2/#ixzz1kHCQKKLL