Co. Derry/Co. Donegal
Hunter Apparel Solutions Ltd / Itronik Ltd
Co. Derry/Co. DonegalItronik Ltd, based in Letterkenny, and Hunter Apparel Solutions Ltd of Londonderry are together developing an innovative product which will not only monitor hand hygiene activity in hospitals and healthcare institutions, but will also combat MRSA and C Difficile.
Both companies approached InterTradeIreland for support. Simon Hunter, Sales Director of Hunter Apparel Solutions said ‘The InterTradeIreland Innova funding helped us to put the trial in place to produce the clinical evidence.’
James Bonner, MD Itronik added that ‘InterTradeIreland’s Innova programme fits the bill perfectly – a joint venture, both companies bringing in their own area of expertise, the grant was an appropriate amount. We were a perfect match, but Innova made the project possible.”
To see how Innova can help your business or joint venture contact Bernadette Doran on 028 3083 4148 (048 from Ireland) or email her on firstname.lastname@example.org.
View Full Case Study
James Bonner, Managing Director of Itronik Ltd, Letterkenny, and Simon Hunter, Sales Director of Hunter Apparel Solutions Ltd, Londonderry, were introduced by a mutual contact in the University of Ulster aware of both companies and their respective strengths.
Together, they are developing an innovative product which will not only monitor hand hygiene activity in hospitals and healthcare institutions, but will also combat MRSA and C Difficile.
“Our joint venture, ‘Intellitex Solutions’ with our Innova partner, Hunter Apparel Ltd, is to develop a smart uniform with an electronic tag embedded in the uniform itself, which is activated electronically if staff don’t use a hand hygiene unit,” says James Bonner. Once worn, the tag flashes green when staff clean their hands and red if they do not use the hand hygiene units.
Bonner also points out that although both companies have so far been concentrating on the staff application, the tags can also be used to monitor visitors to intensive care or isolation wards. “The product has widespread potential – hopefully it will end up being a worldwide product.”
The unique nature of the smart uniforms is augmented by Hunter Apparel’s contribution to the project. Hunter Apparel, a family owned company that has been manufacturing since it was first established in 1936 has designed the uniforms, using an antimicrobial fabric which actually stops the colonization of MRSA on the uniforms. Gerry Mullen from Hunter Apparel explains that the design of the uniform is crucial to the success of the product. “One of the challenges, apart from the technical aspects, is the aesthetic design – doctors in particular dislike wearing a uniform. But if people are serious about challenging MRSA, the entire healthcare regime will have to be changed.”
“All the evidence to date”, says Mullen, “is that hand hygiene is the single biggest contributor to the reduction of these infections. The combination of hand hygiene and the anti-microbial fabric gives our product its uniquely innovative edge.”
Simon Hunter, also from Hunter Apparel said “It is critical that the RFID technology is embedded in the garment. The alternative would be to use the RFID on a loose neck lanyard which has been identified as a carrier of MRSA. Also, the embedded RFID means that the wearer must be stationary in front of the hand washing device which leads to more protocol compliant hand washing”.
” A trial of the smart uniforms is due to begin in the New Year and both men agree that the Innova funding has been fundamental to their project. Gerry Mullen says, “The Innova funding helped us to put the trial in place to produce the clinical evidence. While everyone accepts that this is a genuinely innovative approach to solving the problem, in the absence of clinical evidence then it won’t happen. Equally, hospitals won’t get involved in trials at their own cost, so we have to absorb the cost of doing the trials so there is zero cash flow impact on the hospitals.”
James Bonner adds, “InterTradeIreland’s Innova programme fits the bill perfectly – a joint venture, both companies bringing in their own area of expertise, the grant was an appropriate amount.
We were a perfect match, but Innova made the project possible.”