EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalists: Louise Grubb, Q1 Scientific

Providing a world-class, environmentally controlled storage facility servicing the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries

Louise Grubb of Q1 Scientific

Louise Grubb of Q1 Scientific


Louise Grubb is chief executive and founder of Q1 Scientific which was launched in September 2012 to provide a world-class, environmentally controlled storage facility servicing the pharmaceutical and life sciences industries.

Based in her native Waterford, it is the first Irish company to specialise in the provision of a stability storage service, meeting the highest international standards, as required for these highly regulated industries.

Previously Grubb was founder and managing director of Nutri Science, developing and manufacturing nutraceuticals for veterinary healthcare. Q1’s customer base includes multinational pharmaceutical companies, large- and small-scale R&D developers and medical device and biologics manufacturers.

It has clients in Ireland but also has customers sending in business from the US and northern Europe.

What vision/lightbulb moment prompted you to start up in business?

I read an article about how changes within the pharmaceutical and life sciences sector have accelerated the strategic move by companies to leverage outsourcing options, and researched the outsourcing opportunities not currently provided in Ireland. Stability storage is an essential regulatory requirement for pharmaceutical products, and this is a function I identified as an outsourcing service that could be provided to pharmaceutical and life science companies.

How did you overcome your “back-to-the- wall” moment?

I experienced several cashflow crises in my previous manufacturing business largely due to constantly being undercapitalised.

With Q1 Scientific, we have grown the business incrementally ensuring adequate working capital.

What were the best and the worst pieces of advice you received when starting out?

The best – stay customer-focused and keep trying new ideas. My dad was a salesman and had a retail business and this was his advice.The worst – outsource your accounting needs.

To what extent does your business trade internationally and what are your plans?

Our service is delivered here in Waterford but we have customers from outside Ireland sending us products for storage. The longer-term plan is to attract European wide customers and we are evaluating the option of replicating our facility in Belgium or France to be more centrally located for European business.

Have you started to feel the effects of the economic upturn within your sector?

Our market has been largely unaffected by the recession and recovery although we are seeing a global move towards cost reduction, which we hope to take advantage of with the larger customers. We are benefiting from more competition from service providers.

What is the “red tape” that hampers growth most?

In the pharmaceutical industry, the regulatory requirements restrict any new initiatives and slow down business development. From our own side, for example, there is such documentation required for the simplest of changes.

Based on your experience are the banks in Ireland open for business?

The bank manager called as I was completing this question! I got the required facility but only by jumping through incredible hoops and with guarantees. Leasing was straightforward!

What is the one piece of advice you would give to Government to stimulate the economy?

Reduce capital gains tax to encourage business transactions and to facilitate indigenous business to grow.

What is your biggest luxury?

New cars.