A Co. Derry entrepreneur has developed a range of sensors and software to help companies manage their office facilities more efficiently with help from Ulster Bank.
Aidan Donnelly and his team at SmartWorkPlus in Magherafelt have created new technology which operates by storing and collating data from specialist sensors installed within a building. This data then informs the company how best to deploy resources, thus creating a more efficient facilities management process.
With over 35 years’ combined experience in the field of facilities management, Aidan and his team understood the challenges faced by companies seeking to improve efficiencies and reduce costs in this area however it was a spot on Ulster Bank’s Entrepreneur Accelerator programme which readied SmartWorkPlus to bring this new range of products to market.
“We had all the knowledge and experience of our own industry but needed help to go beyond this and learn about all of the other areas of launching a new product and running a business”, explained Aidan.
“This is where the team at Ulster Bank’s Accelerator programme stepped in and gave us the confidence to go out to potential investors and the credibility to engage with venture capitalists for example. Undoubtedly, being involved with the programme opened doors for SmartWorkPlus and we’ve gone from being a small, regional operation to attracting business from across the UK and Ireland thanks to these connections.”
With many employers now offering hybrid working patterns as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, Aidan believes there is now an even greater need for these products.
“Very few offices have returned to full capacity post lockdowns, so it no longer makes sense for facilities management teams to base their activities on a 100% occupancy rates. Our sensors can tell how many rooms are in use and overall building utilisation which in turn can inform which areas of the office need to be cleaned, lit, or heated for example.
“Not only will this have a positive impact on the bottom line in terms of reduced costs on energy bills, there’s also an environmental benefit. Many companies are focused on lowering their environmental impact and becoming more sustainable so cutting wasted energy is a great place to start.”
Our locally developed sensor and software combination is a world first for facilities management.
John Ferris, Regional Ecosystem Manager with Ulster Bank, who supported Aidan and his team throughout the process said it was encouraging to see this product launch.
“We have been working with the team at SmartWorkPlus since early 2020 and it’s testament to all of their hard work, eagerness to learn, and determination in the midst of a global pandemic that they have now gone live with this idea.
“At the Ulster Bank Entrepreneur Accelerator we work with businesses, like Aidan’s, and support them to harness the tools, networks and connections they need to fulfil their entrepreneurial potential and start or scale their business journey. Given our commitment to improving sustainability, we particularly welcome those businesses who are addressing climate change and have once again reserved 25% of spaces on our next programme, which launches in January 2022, for climate-based entrepreneurs.”
Applications for the next cohort of the Ulster Bank Accelerator Programme are now live and can be submitted until 17 December. More information and the application form can be found at www.ulsterbank.co.uk/accelerator .
To learn more about SmartWorkPlus and see how this technology can improve your business, visit www.smartworkplus.com