Sustainability has moved right up the corporate agenda in recent years, and is now a fact of business life that’s here to stay. On top of this a new EU directive which comes into force early next year will draw more and more companies into the sustainability reporting net.
While most organisations recognise their obligations to employees, customers, investors, suppliers and other stakeholders in this respect, many lack the resources and knowledge required to meet their sustainability training goals. In short they need help, and it was this need that inspired three lifelong friends to develop Vyra, a plug-and-play platform that makes it possible for companies to train large numbers of employees in sustainability awareness at the same time.
Vyra’s founders have a mix of environmental, sustainability, green technology and computer science qualifications between them, and in 2021 Jack Dwyer, Luke Fagan and Eoin Le Masney pooled their expertise to develop the Vyra edtech solution, which is aimed at large companies already reporting on sustainability and those that want to put it more front and centre in their operations.
“There is currently a real pain point for organisations trying to advance sustainability training and engagement but who are drowning in reports, assessments and strategy and don’t have the time, budget or people to deliver training in a way that meets today’s standards and reporting demands. As an end-to-end partner for contemporary sustainability training, we can solve this problem for them,” says Dwyer, Vyra’s chief executive.
“We interviewed 10 large Irish companies when we were exploring the feasibility of our idea and found that a lack of sustainability training was a top three problem for all the companies with over 500 employees,” Dwyer adds. “There was also a significant sustainability knowledge gap and lack of subject expertise internally. Vyra provides customers with the magic trio of technology, learning content and data insights for sustainability training, all in one solution. This is a completely novel approach which enables companies to efficiently train their entire workforce through bite-sized learning programmes.”
Companies signing up to the Vyra learning platform and content library can choose from a menu of modules covering topics such as energy, biodiversity, waste, water, ESG, climate change and travel.
“We start by conducting an audit of an organisations’ sustainability strategy and create a bespoke training programme around it with their branding and their stats about their progress to date,” says Dwyer who adds that while each programme is organisation specific, there are enough similarities in the problems faced by companies to make the model easy to replicate.
Vyra is based at the Merits innovation hub in Naas and investment in the business so far has been roughly €900,000 between personal funding, angel investors and support from Kildare LEO. Vyra operates in the SaaS space and took on its first paying customers in April of last year.
Companies using its service include Energia group, Wunderman Thompson, KBI Global Investors, BT Ireland and the IRFU. The company is already trading internationally and Dwyer says there will be a particular focus on Europe in the months ahead as the EU’s new reporting directive, which goes live in January, will affect an estimated 50,000 companies from the get-go.
A feather in Vyra’s cap is that Adrian Fleming, the co-founder and former CEO of the ESG data aggregation and reporting software company Accuvio (which was acquired by the Diligent Corporation in 2021), recently came on board as mentor, backer and strategy chief. “Adrian’s involvement has brought huge benefits and been a very positive influence on the business,” Dwyer says. “We’re still a small team, although we plan to start hiring early next year, and his experience has been invaluable in helping us to manage our growth and sizeable workload much more efficiently.”