Galway-based medtech company HidraMed Solutions has won the Irish Times Innovation of the Year award for 2020 for developing a novel dressing system aimed at those suffering from the incurable skin disease, Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS).
HidraMed Solutions took the accolade in the Life Sciences & Healthcare category as well as carrying off the overall award.
About 4 per cent of the world’s population suffer from HS which causes painful lesions and abscesses in the armpit, thigh and groin areas. The wounds need to be regularly dressed, but dressings on the market are unsatisfactory as they can leak, move and fall off.
Current dressings are also adhesive-backed and their application and removal damages already painful skin and adds to the distress associated with dressing changes.
Managing HS wound care has a big impact on patients’ lives as the routine is slow, painful and stressful. As a result, HS sufferers are at increased risk of developing anxiety, depression and becoming socially isolated.
HidraMed Solutions was founded by former chef Suzanne Moloney who suffers from HS. With her insider knowledge of the condition, she tackled the dressings problem from a novel angle, designing her adhesive-free dressings to fit into a range of specially created underwear.
The crop tops, T-shirts and boxer shorts look like regular fashion items, but they discreetly incorporate a highly absorbent pad with a secure fastening tab and it takes less than 30 seconds to change a dressing.
The global wound care market is worth an estimated $23 billion (€19 billion) and HidraMed’s technology also has potential applications in the wider chronic wound care market.
Product sales to date have been primarily online as those with HS typically fund their own treatment. However, the company’s aim is to have its products added to the list of reimbursable expenses by health insurers and made available free to medical card holders.
In 2020, the company made its first significant breakthrough in this respect when its products were listed as reimbursable by health insurers in the United States. It is hoping to achieve similar status for Ireland, Britain and the Netherlands this year.
Investment in HidraMed to date has been in the order of €1 million, of which €125,000 has been raised in the past year. The company is about to embark on a €2 million fundraising round to expand its reimbursement operations into other markets, bring its team up to nine people over the next year and expand into the broader area of post-surgical wound dressings.
The Innovation Awards 2020 are supported by The Irish Times in partnership with Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, SkillnetIreland and the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.
The prize for the overall winner is a high-profile communications package worth in excess of €150,000 comprising advertising and promotion across the Business, Technology + Innovation pages and the Business online section.
In addition, the UCD Smurfit School will provide the winner with an executive education scholarship.
Category winners are awarded a €10,000 communications package in Thursday’s Business, Technology + Innovation pages and a one-year digital subscription to The Irish Times.