Some may have thought that Bobby Healy was mad when he first put forward the idea of doing deliveries via drones. But there is every chance the entrepreneur will go on to prove the naysayers wrong. Having just received a certificate from the Irish Aviation Authority that opens up Europe-wide opportunities for the company, Manna is now in full flight. Add in a recent $25 million (€20.5m) fundraise and deals with the likes of Tesco and Samsung, and it would seem as though the sky is the limit.
Gym & Coffee
One of the first things to be embraced during lockdown was comfortable clothing. Out went suits and ties and in came leggings and t-shirts. One of the main beneficiaries of this was Gym+Coffee, an Irish athleisure clothing brand founded by three friends in 2017. The company is in expansion mode, having grown sales from €800,000 to €20 million in four years. It has recently secured former One Direction star Niall Horan as an investor and brand ambassador, bringing the brand to a whole new audience
Modubuild is an international specialist con tractor that provides on-site modular construction solutions for big projects across data centre, biopharma and pharmaceutical industries. Founded in 2006 in Castlecomer, Co Kilkenny, it has reported average growth of 45 per cent year-on-year over the last six years. Co-founder Kevin Brennan is among 24 finalists shortlisted for this year’s EY Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Founded by Nora Khalid in 2014, Nuritas is a biotechnology company that uses uses big data techniques to discover peptides. These are molecules in food and food byproducts that can be used by the life sciences sector in supplements and new drugs. The company’s mission is to unlock the benefits of nature and improve the lives of billions. It has already developed and patented health-improving ingredients that can address global challenges as broad as inflammation, diabetes, and MRSA. Its partners include Nestle, while its backers include the European Investment Bank, as well as angel investors such as Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff, and Bono and the Edge from U2.
Anything that has Irish tech veteran Annrai O’Toole attached to it is worth taking note of. Mr O’Toole, who previously co-founded both Iona Technologies and Cape Clear Software, returned to the start-up scene in late 2018 with Utmost. This is a company that has developed a software solution called the Extended Workforce System that helps HR teams manage individuals who work for, but are not directly employed, by companies. This includes contractors, freelancers, vendors and consultants. With workplaces changing dramatically, investors, who have already ploughed over $30 million into Utmost, are betting it could be the HR solution of choice in a short space of time.
Founded by Dr Patricia Scanlon and now led by Dr Martyn Farrows, Soapbox Labs uses artificial intelligence and deep learning to develop cloud-based speech recognition solutions for young children aged between three and 12. This technology has been popularly dubbed as “Siri for kids”, although it is more complex than that might suggest, as children’s speech behaviour differs greatly from adults. As well as being used by companies in the education space in areas such as voice-enabled literacy, language learning, dyslexia screening and speech therapy products, SoapBox’s technology is also increasingly being deployed by smart toymakers.
Gifting may be as old as time but often it isn’t done well in the hands of corporates. That is where &Open comes in. Founded by Ciara Flood and Jonathan and Mark Legge, it has developed a gifting platform that makes it easier for brands to send carefully-selected gifts to customers to boost loyalty and engagement. &Open works directly with brands to curate high-quality, design-led and responsibly-sourced gifts for customers and campaigns, from beeswax candles to luxury skincare, a subscription or even a charity donation.
It’s no small thing to win the Young Scientist of the Year award but that was just the start for Shane Curran, who at the ripe old age of 21, is winning plaudits all round for Evervault, the data security company he leads. Backed by some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley, the start-up is focused on building a groundbreaking data-privacy interface developers can use when creating software. Evervault provides simple tools to deploy applications in hardware-hardened containers, enabling clients to focus on building products and not security.
The at-home testing company announced plans to create 160 jobs in Dublin late last year as it sought to respond to significant demand both here and elsewhere. LetsGetChecked began offering sexual health tests, but it now has over 30 offerings covering everything from colon cancer to Covid-19 tests. Sales rose by more than 800 per cent year-on-year in 2020 for the company, which has raised over $70 million from backers to date.