FeelTect

Founders: Darren Burke and Andrew Cameron
 
Number of Staff: 2
 
Start Date: 2019-05-27
 
Tell us what your business does?
FeelTect have developed Tight Alright, the first wearable, connected-health technology and digital platform for measuring and monitoring compression therapy, primarily in the treatment of venous leg ulcers (VLUs). These painful, chronic wounds affect 11.5 million people each year, accounting for 1% of healthcare spending in industrialised nations. Over 50% of VLUs experience delayed healing (>12 weeks) and 80% of treatment costs are associated with patient visits. There is a critical need to reduce treatment times and healthcare professional workload in the treatment of VLUs. Compression therapy is proven to heal VLUs however therapeutic benefits are severely impeded by a 90% failure to achieve targeted pressure, a lack of monitoring outside the clinical setting, and restrictions in treatment due to COVID-19. Tight Alright enables consistent delivery of gold-standard wound care and allows for data-driven optimisation of therapy – improving healing outcomes, reducing costs, and facilitating self-managed treatment. FeelTect have developed Tight Alright, the first wearable, connected-health technology and digital platform for measuring and monitoring compression therapy, primarily in the treatment of venous leg ulcers (VLUs). These painful, chronic wounds affect 11.5 million people each year, accounting for 1% of healthcare spending in industrialised nations. Over 50% of VLUs experience delayed healing (>12 weeks) and 80% of treatment costs are associated with patient visits. There is a critical need to reduce treatment times and healthcare professional workload in the treatment of VLUs. Compression therapy is proven to heal VLUs however therapeutic benefits are severely impeded by a 90% failure to achieve targeted pressure, a lack of monitoring outside the clinical setting, and restrictions in treatment due to COVID-19. Tight Alright enables consistent delivery of gold-standard wound care and allows for data-driven optimisation of therapy – improving healing outcomes, reducing costs, and facilitating self-managed treatment. 
Where did the idea for your business come from?
FeelTect began our journey in the renowned BioInnovate Ireland programme at National University Ireland (NUI) Galway. It was during this needs-driven innovation programme, in 2016/2017, that CEO, Dr Andrew Cameron, spent two months of immersion in the University Hospital Galway and Mayo Clinic, Rochester, looking for unmet clinical needs in the cardiovascular space. With the help of Dr Georgina Gethin, Head of Nursing at NUI Galway, a need was identified for a way to improve the treatment of venous leg ulcers. To begin addressing this need, an Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund project was started in January 2018, within the labs of Prof. Garry Duffy, in the School of Medicine at NUI Galway. The successful outputs from this project saw the formation of FeelTect in May 2019 by founders, Dr Andrew Cameron (CEO), Dr Darren Burke (CTO), and Prof. Garry Duffy (NED).
Have you always wanted to run your own business?
Yes
What planning did you do before you started up?
As part of the BioInnovate process, 10 months of planning were invested into making clinical observations, conducting in depth research, formulating need statements, devising filtering criteria (e.g. market size, clinical impact, competitive landscape, path to market), and comparatively assessing each need. Only when we had determined the most viable clinical need were we ready to progress to developing a solution. The development of a solution took another two years, in which time we selected a concept, performed benchtop testing, conducted preliminary clinical validation, and secured the intellectual property. Once all of these milestones had been achieved, we felt we were ready to form FeelTect.
Which entrepreneurs do you admire?
Robert Langer, John Breslin, Eamon Brady, John Power, Nora Khaldi, John O’Dea
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?
As with any early-stage company, one of our most difficult challenges faced so far has been securing funding to commercialise our technology. While we’ve made many achievements with the state funding raised to date, we now need private investment to take the next steps on our path to market. Indeed, COVID-19 has impacted our fundraising efforts, creating caution around new investments in some sectors of the investor community, but COVID has also provided us opportunities, heralding a new era of telemedicine and connected health that only serves to strengthen our value proposition and promote our investment opportunity. Similarly, COVID-19 has also broken down other barriers that we may have faced with implementing a digital technology in a space that has seen little technological innovation for decades (or centuries). Due to the need for isolation, many patients have been presented with the daunting task of self-managing their wounds, becoming accustomed to telemedicine consultations. Our connected health technology enables patients to face these challenges safely and confidently. The benefits of empowering patients and maintaining the remote provision of care after the pandemic relate to significant improvements in efficiency and a reduced burden on the healthcare system.
How have you promoted your business?
We are a small team and we still have to go through regulatory approval processes before we can start selling our Tight Alright technology, but we have tried to promote FeelTect through keeping an active online presence (e.g. LinkedIn), engaging key opinion leaders (within Ireland and internationally), presenting our study results at international conferences, and joining/engaging with professional advocacy organisations (e.g. the Alliance for Research and Innovation in Wounds (ARIW), the International Compression Club (ICC), and the European Wound Management Association (EWMA)). Additionally, we try to promote our company through competitions, such as the National Startup Awards, which is also a great way of meeting other companies and building our network.
Where do you see the business in 3 years’ time?
In 3 years’ time we expect the Tight Alright technology to be treating patients across Europe and the USA, having established FeelTect as the market leading company for monitoring the treatment received by wound care patients. FeelTect’s vision is to see every wound care patient receiving individualised, optimised treatment, specific to their clinical and user needs. We intend that patients achieve their maximum rate of healing with minimal disruption to their quality of life. Additionally, we hope to see the unsustainable burden of wound care lifted from healthcare systems, allowing for efficient management of wound patients and reallocation of vital resources (i.e. funding and personnel) to other areas of clinical need.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
I’ve always admired anyone willing to start any business because it seemed like such a daunting task even knowing where to begin. Having started FeelTect, my advice would be to do as much research as you can to validate the need in the planning phase, but accept that there will always be gaps and the only way to begin addressing these is by starting the execution phase. Form a team with a shared passion/enthusiasm, be prepared to be versatile, and have faith in your team’s ability to tackle every challenge as it arises. Beyond our core team, we have been extremely fortunate and grateful to have the support of some amazing people and organisations. I would recommend building a strong support network for your business and always recognising and respecting the contribution this network provides.

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