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Co-Innovating for Success - Tapa Healthcare

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Local Dundalk business Tapa Healthcare has been applauded for both its ground-breaking technological advances and its charitable outreach in recent years after donating its handheld medical software device to hospitals in Africa. Its 'Rapid Electronic Assessment Data System,' (READS) uses clinical information and multiple algorithms to help predict and manage deterioration in a person's condition including sepsis, stroke and a heart attack. Having received support from the Co-Innovate Programme, led by InterTradeIreland, we speak with the company’s CEO, Dr Peter Donnelly to find out more about his collaborative approach to doing business and what is next on the agenda for this medical start-up.

A ‘spin out’ from Dundalk Institute of Technology, Tapa Healthcare was co-founded in 2015 by Peter and colleague Dr John Kellett. The company has continued to develop its product range and it is used in hospitals in the UK, Ireland, Europe and Africa. ‘READS’ is designed to tackle some of the biggest causes of preventable deaths in hospitals such as sepsis, stroke and medical errors.

“The device is user friendly and operates like many other apps on smart devices such as an iPad, tablet or smartphone,” explains Peter. “It enables nurses and doctors to assess and prioritise patients at the point of care so they can intervene as early as possible and improve patient safety and outcomes. This solution will also save hospitals and healthcare facilities a lot of time and money.”

With over 25 years’ experience in the healthcare sector, Peter has formed several academic, business and clinical collaborations both nationally and internationally. Drawing on his knowledge in engineering and marketing healthcare solutions, he has founded six businesses, including three medical device companies. Talking about his approach to business, Peter explains: “I am a huge advocate of collaboration and people coming together to exchange ideas. The ease of communication today makes this process almost effortless and with support from organisations such as InterTradeIreland, there is a wealth of information and help available for ambitious entrepreneurs and businesses with an idea. By coming together to co-create solutions, academics, businesses, engineers and sectorial experts are helping tackle important issues that might otherwise go ignored.”

Through the Co-Innovate Programme, Tapa Healthcare has received free mentoring and will potentially receive funding to embark on a collaborative cross-border research project. The five-year €16.6 million project which has just marked its first anniversary, aims to boost collaboration between small and medium enterprises across the border counties in Ireland. So far over 800 local companies have taken part in Co-Innovate workshops, with almost 500 going on to complete a business health check. Over 40 businesses have also taken part in an intensive 10-day mentoring session which provides participants with specific action plans to develop research and innovation capabilities.

According to Peter, the Co-Innovate Programme has been invaluable due to one-to-one expert mentoring, advanced support with academics and cross border business to business partnerships. “Co-Innovate has been an excellent way of enabling us to review all aspects of our business, focusing on innovation and future opportunities. The advice, hands-on mentoring and real-life business support provided ensures innovation, research and collaboration is embedded in our business to foster growth.”

Co-Innovate offers collaborative research and innovation project support via 5 different strands of assistance. The graduated levels of support include free innovation workshops, individual business health checks and one-to-one expert mentoring. Companies can also benefit from project support with academics and cross border business to business partnerships.

Peter adds, “The Co-Innovate Programme has been ideal for our interests as it provides the opportunity to bring potential customers and partners in to the equation. InterTradeIreland’s valuable connections and existing relationships, and the support of the Co-Innovate Programme Managers, have opened the door for many of the conversations we are currently having. It’s an active programme and we would encourage any other cross-border businesses with an innovation requirement to consider applying.”

Looking to the future, Peter said, “We have great expectations, that with the help of this programme, we can take hospital level care models to the community and support the earlier detection and risk management of patients in their own home, nursing home or community facilities. Ultimately, we have a vision of saving lives, time and money, right across the healthcare spectrum.”

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