US expansion to drive growth at Cork health systems company

EY Entrepreneur of the Year finalist Noel O’Hanlon of Genesis Automation

In February 2009, Noel O'Hanlon was working as managing director of equipment supplier IPT Ltd Cork. Having got a request from a customer to help them manage inventory, O'Hanlon saw an opening in the healthcare industry and founded Genesis Automation in 2010.

The Cork-based company develops systems for managing hospitals. It is the leading solution to ensure patient safety in operating theatres while it also analyses the cost of procedures and can compare that cost to the average cost and the differential between surgeons.

Their flagship system was developed in conjunction with National Health Service (NHS) hospitals in the UK. More recently, it has developed its new human tissue tracking solution with Driscoll Children's Hospital in Texas.

Genesis sees its growth in the US. O’Hanlon is based in Florida where the company employs 14 people in sales and support.


Having obtained two significant institutional investments worth a total of €26 million, Genesis now employs more than 50 people and expects a growth rate of over 100 per cent a year for the foreseeable future.

Describe your business model and what makes it unique

Our business model is a software as a service (SaaS) annual subscription. What’s unique about Genesis is the breadth of the solution and it currently has 14 fully-integrated modules that run on a handheld computer.

What was your ‘back-to-the-wall’ moment and how did you overcome it?

There were several. We were very close to running out of cash – enterprise software development is a very expensive business. We always managed to get the various investments at the right time and that kept us afloat.

What moment/deal would you cite as the ‘game-changer’ or turning point for the company?

In 2014, I approached Plymouth NHS Hospital, and the department of health in London, and partnered with them to build Genesis around a modern hospital's total requirements.

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

Genesis is the fourth company that I have been involved in starting. I make the best decisions that I can in conjunction with my board and have never really listened to “advice”, good or bad.

Where would you like your business to be in three years?

We’d like to have 250 hospitals using Genesis, mainly in the US.

What is the hardest thing you have ever done in business?

Getting Genesis off the ground. I knew nothing about software development, nothing about inventory management, and nothing about hospitals.

What was your biggest business mistake?

Investing in property, a business I knew nothing about, and losing money like half the population of Ireland!

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

Take more of an interest in housing development and be more creative in coming up with partnerships with industry, to develop more houses. Why doesn’t the Government look at what’s done in the UK more closely and seek their advice? I can’t understand that at all.

What is the most common mistake you see entrepreneurs make?

Not watching their costs closely enough and as a result running out of cash. You can lose money for years potentially, but can run out of cash only once!

How are international political developments such as Donald Trump’s presidency and tax reform along with Brexit impacting on your business?

US tax reform will have no impact but Brexit will have a major impact as the depreciation of sterling has hit the amount of revenue we receive when converted back into euro.

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton

Peter Hamilton is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business