Tech entrepreneur sees ‘hundreds of new jobs’ for Limerick
Track and trace specialist Optel is looking to adapt its solutions for a number of industries
Optel founder Louis Roy: “Our Irish operation will grow significantly in the coming years as we start deploying our solutions in sectors outside of healthcare.” Photograph: Cole Burston/Bloomberg
Optel, a Canadian tech company that employs more than 100 people in Limerick, says there is scope for it to create hundreds of new jobs in the Republic in the next few years.
The company specialises in track and trace and vision inspection technology for the pharmaceutical, medical devices and chemical industries. It established a European manufacturing and operations centre at the former On Semiconductor facility at Raheen Business Park in Limerick in late 2014.
Speaking to The Irish Times recently, the company’s founder and president Louis Roy said headcount at the Limerick plant now stood at about 125 people. Optel employs 850 people globally.
“Our Irish operation will grow significantly in the coming years as we start deploying our solutions in sectors outside of healthcare,” said Mr Roy, a finalist in this year’s EY World Entrepreneur of the Year awards.
“What we are doing is a game changer for companies and the way they see their supply chains. Our market is huge and we are the front-runner in it because nobody else has the end-to-end traceability capability that we do, so we are in a unique position,” he added.
Established in Quebec in 1989, Optel develops and installs packaging line vision inspection and control systems for the pharmaceutical, medical devices and chemical industries. These automated vision systems reduces risks associated with mislabelled products, dosage errors and product mix-ups, while also protecting genuine manufacturers against illegal counterfeiting.
Optel has been increasingly adapting its solutions for use in a number of other sectors, such as food and natural resources. It is also focused on looking to solve large-scale social issues by building transparent, traceable supply chains using disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT).
“I started the company to save the world. We make a lot of money and all of it is put back into the business so that we can achieve our end goal. That is what differentiates us from other companies,” the entrepreneur said.
The company, which also has sites in Canada, Brazil and India, increased its revenues and sales by 1,000 per cent between 2012 and 2016.
The track and trace solutions market is projected to reach $3.93 billion (€3.38 billion) by 2023 from $1.65 billion (€1.42 billion) this year, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.9 per cent.
Optel, which currently has a 25 per cent global market share in the healthcare track and trace hardware systems market, last year announced that the financier Desjardins Group was to provide the company with CAD $68 million (€44.3 million) in loans to support its expansion plans.