Transforming the future of work
Wrky and Inclusio are just two projects supported by the Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund
Sandra Healy is co-founder of Inclusio, a software platform for diversity and inclusion.
The Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Fund is supporting two highly innovative university spin-out companies which have developed powerful new solutions to help employers improve the working environment for staff.
Co-founded by Dr Brian Slattery and Barry Gordon, Wrky is a cloud-based people science platform for the workplace, which delivers meaningful data in real time for employers to base decisions.
“We have developed cutting-edge software that combines technology, psychology and artificial intelligence to deliver scientific culture and diversity metrics linked to business key performance indicators [KPIs],” says Healy. “Inclusio puts science into culture change so organisations can build workplaces where people want to work, by levelling the playing field for employees. Inclusio helps organisations adapt to meet regulatory, investor, customer and employee expectations on culture, and employees get to build the organisations they want to work for.”
Healy is an organisational psychologist with a background in the telecommunications sector. “I spent 20 years in the telecoms sector in UK and Ireland before doing a masters in organisational psychology in DCU,” she says. “I had been involved in diversity and inclusion in Ireland for 14 years and was acknowledged as a leading expert in the space.”
Dublin City University invited her to establish its Centre of Excellence for Diversity and Inclusion and that partly led to the establishment of Inclusio. “When I was in industry, there were clear KPIs to measure the impact of the work we were doing yet there was no way to measure the impact of what we were doing on diversity and inclusion. I thought there had to be a better way and looked at using technology to solve the problem. When I was asked to work with DCU on diversity and inclusion I asked them if we could work on building the technology platform.”
That was 2016 and Inclusio successfully spun out from DCU in 2020. “Enterprise Ireland have been absolutely phenomenal in the way they have supported us,” says Healy. “We now employ 15 people in different locations around the world and are working on a funding round at the moment. It’s a very exciting time for us.”
Wrky is an employee and data-centric evidence machine, according to Brian Slattery. “It delivers meaningful data and enables meaningful decisions in real time.”
The idea for Wrky dates back to 2014 when Slattery was working in the NUI Galway psychology department building a digital platform for people to improve quality of life for people with chronic health problems. “I thought we could use the same approach to make the workplace a bit better,” he says. “From a health science perspective, the individual is always the focus and the quality of the data and how it is analysed is paramount to good conclusions. That scientific approach to data and evidence is missing in the workplace, and it is the foundation of Wrky.”
He says current systems available to HR and leadership provide low quality, typically retrospective data and people struggle to synthesise the information. “They make mission critical decisions based on this data and have no way to calculate the impact. HR technology has been designed for HR as opposed to being built to empower the employee and undervalues the employee’s ability to contribute, innovate and impact their workplace. Wrky solves both of these issues – we empower leadership and HR with the necessary people data to make informed decisions and [give] employees the voice to influence their workplace.”
The commercialisation fund support dates back to 2019. “The DCU Invent office connected us with Enterprise Ireland and it has snowballed from there,” says Slattery. “Right now, we are starting to pilot to solution with a number of companies. We have a team of six now and are moving towards the next phase of looking for investment.”
These are just two examples of the hundreds of spinouts which have been supported by the commercialisation fund over the years. “A lot of younger generation of academics are very interested in industry,” says Enterprise Ireland’s senior ICT commercialisation consultant Tom Bannon. “They are interested in technology and have ideas with application beyond the academic sphere. We support them in the commercialisation process.”
The key role played by the fund is in supporting projects which are still at too early a stage or would be deemed too risky to attract investment from the private sector. “The academics involved may have had some limited exposure to industry but not enough to bring their idea to market. We bridge that two to three year gap to market readiness.”