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Occuity is a pioneering medtech producing innovative, patented technology to address some of the world’s greatest healthcare challenges. Their products seek to replace invasive and painful blood tests with a simple scan of the eye to monitor and diagnose diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
We interviewed the Founders of Occuity to hear more about their fascinating technology. Dr Dan Daly is Founder and CEO, and Dr Robin Taylor is Founder and CTO.
What were you doing prior to founding this business and what inspired you to take the entrepreneurship route?
Dr. Dan Daly: My background is in physics, optics in particular. I spent a number of years doing bench research in making micro-optics (very small optical systems) then became more involved in managing projects and the commercial aspects of turning technology into products.
I’d always wanted to use my technical knowledge to do something new and worthwhile. So the idea of using light to make pain-free measurements for diabetes care inspired me to found a start up.
Dr. Robin Taylor: I have always had a passion for engineering since I was very young. I had a deep fascination of how things worked, why they were built the way they were, and how they could be improved. This fascination is really what has been the driving force behind the multidisciplinary nature of my career starting with my degree in Electro-mechanical Engineering.
It was while studying my degree that my interest in medical engineering began. I was always interested in robotics, or more specifically animatronics. I had a family member that made prosthetic limbs and had visions of designing fully articulated robotic limbs. Electro-mechanical engineering seemed like a natural choice and my interest in medical engineering grew from there.
The level of interest our vision has generated has been amazing and we are very excited to be launching our crowdfunding campaign in order to allow the community we have built up to share in what we hope to build at Occuity.
The last few years have shown the seriousness and fragility of our health, how do Occuity’s solutions improve healthcare as it is today?
Dr. Dan Daly: Our idea to use light to make non-contacting, pain-free measurements always offered benefits to both the patient and the clinician. But we have seen that in this “post-COVID” world that the fact that our meter doesn’t contact the patient, and so doesn’t run the risk of transferring disease between patients, is a big advantage.
Dr. Robin Taylor: Our technology is safe, compact and cost effective and has numerous applications. Our aim is for Occuity to develop a series of devices that will offer a broad range of screening, diagnostic and monitoring capabilities. We have a strong focus on ease of use and, by their very nature, these devices will facilitate easier access to these capabilities ordinarily only found in hospitals. It is my hope that this will lead to a step change in the treatment of chronic diseases by using screening to identify those at risk before these conditions progress to the point that more extensive treatment is required.
What does your competitive landscape look like?
Dr. Dan Daly: As the markets we are addressing are so large – glucose measurement alone is worth ~$14bn per year – they are very competitive. We are up against the multi-billion-dollar multinational corporates and the innovate startups spun out of universities. Out strength is that we have the nimbleness of small company but with a strong patent portfolio and an exceptional team.
How have you designed your business model to be scalable?
Dr. Dan Daly: Our ultimate markets are very large but we’ve structured Occuity to build up to them. Our first product, the pachymeter, addresses a market of a fair size but it gives us the opportunity to establish our supply chain, contract manufacturing partners and distribution partners before moving on to the substantial diabetes market.
What has growth looked like to date for the business?
Dr. Dan Daly: We’ve grown very quickly indeed. From just a couple of people in 2019 we were up to 7 staff this time last year and we are now at about 35 people with 3 more starting over the next month or so.
Dr. Robin Taylor: Since founding the company back in September 2019 we have grown from just myself and Dan developing the technology in my garage to a company with over 35 staff, with fantastic offices in Reading and we are preparing for our first product launch.
What are you looking forward to in the near future?
Dr. Dan Daly: Getting the PM1 pachymeter to market and generating sales. This will be transformational for the company.
Dr. Robin Taylor: To date most of our time and energy has been focused on getting our first product to market. We are now in the final stages of development and preparing clinical trials in preparation for regulatory approval and product release. This will be a huge milestone for the business and one I am very excited about. Beyond that, closing this funding round will give us the ability to expand the engineering team and really push the screening and monitoring technology forward. Exciting times!
Dr. Dan Daly: Initially all our sales will be B2B but this will gradually change as time goes on and the glucose meter comes to market.
What does your path to profitability look like?
Dr. Dan Daly: We’ve structured Occuity so that revenues will be generated quickly and grow rapidly. The optometry market alone is more than able to create a viable business then, when you add in screening and diabetes monitoring, the profitability becomes substantial.
A few personal ones:
When you’re not working, what are you doing?
Dr. Dan Daly: Messing around with old cars. I have a half share in a ‘60s coupe that a friend and I are preparing for classic rallies.
Dr. Robin Taylor: I am first and foremost a dad, and then an engineer so when I am not spending time with the family I am tinkering in my lab (the garage). I am very passionate about our technology and what we do at Occuity so I spend much of my spare time pushing our technology forward, pushing the boundaries of what we can do and to give us the best chance of succeeding.
What’s the easiest thing people can do to stay on top of their health?
Dr. Dan Daly: Eat less and move around more. Everyone knows this but it’s not so easy to do in practice.
Dr. Robin Taylor: I think is it about being aware. Not just of what you eat or how much you exercise you do but listening to what your body is telling you. In my view this is why health screening and monitoring is so important.
What would your advice be to aspiring entrepreneurs in the medtech space?
Dr. Dan Daly: Build a strong team around you – recognising what you don’t do well is as important as knowing what you do do well. So fill in those gaps with people who are smarter than you.
Dr. Robin Taylor: Firstly, get the right people around you, trust them and give them the freedom to do their job. Secondly, give yourself enough time. If there is one thing I have learned since forming Occuity it is that everything takes longer than you think. This is especially true of finding the right people, even when you don’t have a global pandemic to contend with!
Occuity is open for investment! Visit the pitch to find out more.