Making it Work

CF Pharma and Telenostic look to success on the double in animal health market

Clare Hughes, of CF Pharma and Telenostic, plans to double employee numbers at the animal feed company while also partnering with veterinary surgeons worldwide to roll out a digital diagnostic test for animal parasites

Clare Hughes of CF Pharma and Telenostic, with Zena and Stuart in Danesford, Co Kilkenny: ‘I see Telenostic as the global leader for digital parasitology diagnosis. A lot of the big boys have tried to do this, but we’ve actually gone and done it.’ Picture: Finbarr O’Rourke

Clare Hughes is aiming to scale two companies at once – and by most metrics, she’s succeeding.

The Kilkenny businesswoman expects to add 50 new jobs in the coming years at CF Pharma, the animal feed company she founded in 2015, as part of plans to double revenues based on strong staffing and well-developed distribution links.

At the same time, Telenostic, a business she started in parallel, has raised €3.3 million in the last year having developed a tool for diagnosing parasite infection in animals which Hughes believes is the global leader in its field.

Both companies have backing from Enterprise Ireland, and Hughes said they were in an “incredibly exciting” place.

“At CF Pharma, we currently have 50 people employed. We’ll be doubling that to 90 or 100 in the coming years, and we already have planning permission for two further developments on top of the current one,” she told the Business Post. “We’ve already doubled in size in the last year, and we’re expecting to double again this year.”

Telenostic, she said, can arguably be even more transformative in its field, with a product that uses advanced technology and artificial intelligence to change how vets can assess animals for parasites in their internal organs.

The business has been in development since 2016, when Hughes and Trish McOwan, her co-founder, began testing out a product that could help veterinary surgeons test farm animals.

“We’ve done a huge amount of research and testing – probably, I would say, more than any other veterinary diagnostics on the market,” she said. “We’re selling to vets, so we have to be 100 per cent ethical and mindful that what we do is done in the right way.”

Hughes and McOwan, both of whom have years of experience in the animal health industry, have filed a worldwide patent on their device, which is known as OvaCyte. They now employ 22 people at the business.

“It’s easy enough to look at parasites in water, but it’s not so easy to look at them in a dark matter like faecal matter,” she said. “So we take an image of the parasites and we upload it to the cloud.”

There, the product counts and identifies the parasites it discovers, allowing a vet to conduct qualitative, quantitative analysis of the gut parasites and create a prescription immediately.

“We’re looking at teaming up with veterinary surgeons on a worldwide scale,” Hughes said. “This can be used on horses, dogs, cats, sheep, goats – everything.”

That technology has developed “autonomously” from the animal health supplements made by CF Pharma, she said.

But both companies are growing rapidly and are well regarded by investors: Telenostic has won funding from Henry Brankin, a director at telecoms equipment specialist Virtual Access.

“I see Telenostic as the global leader for digital parasitology diagnosis in the world,” Hughes said. “A lot of the big boys have tried to do this, but we’ve actually gone and done it. And that’s not me just being arrogant – we’ve proven that.”

This Making it Work article is produced in partnership with Enterprise Ireland