Before the pandemic, CW Applied Technologies, a Shannon-based electronics company, was a relatively small business which worked on contract manufacturing projects for medium-sized firms across Ireland and Europe.
Eighteen months later, the Enterprise Ireland-backed firm has transformed its prospects after designing an award-winning UV sterilising device to combat the spread of Covid-19 in indoor settings.
Established in 2014, CW is now planning a €1 million fundraise and aims to increase its staff headcount to 25 by the end of the financial year, after its Muv-X disinfector won plaudits and clients alike for the company.
The Muv-X, which won innovative product of the year at the All-Ireland Business All-Stars in July, has been labelled the ‘gold standard’ of Covid sanitising equipment. The company now sells it to schools, hotels and care homes around Ireland.
“In the short term, we’re looking to grow and move the business forward more dramatically than we have achieved in the last six years,” John O’Connell, the managing director of the company, said.
The portable room steriliser, which has been independently tested in a Galway lab with approval from the US Food and Drug Administration, works by killing the virus with UV-C light, a form of ultraviolet light radiation.
“One of the key things about the product is that we’re not using any gas, ozone or other chemicals,” O’Connell said. “There’s nothing being sprayed into the room, which means it’s perfectly safe for anyone to go into after it’s been used, even if you have underlying health conditions.”
In a rapidly evolving market competition is fierce, and CW has had to contend with other, less scientific rivals, according to O’Connell.
“We’re in an industry with UV-C where there’s a certain amount of unregulated activity going on,” he said. “There are products coming in from China costing $300 whereas we’re $3,000, and people are asking why we’re so much more expensive. But in many cases, in my opinion, they’re dangerous. They’re not going to do what you need them to do.”
Competition, regulated and unregulated, may be a concern for CW, but it hasn’t slowed its progress. The firm is seeking further growth into international markets and is planning to launch a rental model whereby customers can rent the steriliser for use in their homes. Within three years, it hopes to be in a market-leading position globally.
“Ireland is a great starting point, but we now have relationships in place with distributors in the US, the UK and in places like Azerbaijan. We’re expanding our reach all the time,” said O’Connell.
For all the success of the UV disinfectant, CW hasn’t discarded its contract manufacturing business, which makes electrical components. O’Connell said the firm hopes to collaborate with other small businesses in the electronic manufacturing industry to add to the services it offers.
“We are talking to a number of SMEs at the moment about collaboration, which ultimately might mean mergers or acquisitions. But right now, it means figuring out how we can work together to make a stronger case for winning a project from a client,” he said.