More than 30 jobs are to be created by a butcher-turned data expert who left his family’s local meat business to forge a 25-year career in data security.
Kieran Kelly, founded technology outfit arc-net last year and the company is now set for significant growth after graduating from Entrepreneurial Spark, which has a ‘Hatchery’ in Belfast, powered by Ulster Bank.
The firm has recently secured contracts with several global businesses and has offices in Belfast and Edinburgh, as well as a new base in San Francisco from where it provides a technology platform to protectively mark and trace meat products from farm to fork using the animal’s DNA.
From two initial staff when Kieran entered Entrepreneurial Spark in 2015 for mentoring and support which he said had radically advanced the company’s evolution.
“The Entrepreneurial Spark experience has been transformative, helping me to really focus the product on its best application; the food industry,” he said.
“I’ve also had fantastic support with pitching and marketing, which have been invaluable in winning business with the large companies we are now working with,” he says.
“We currently employ 15 people, but are just about to begin further recruitment to bring this up to 50 to meet demand for the solution.
Roles will be in development, sales and marketing, and data analysis, and they will be based in Belfast and Edinburgh,” he added.
Currently the company is working with the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen’s University, Belfast, Cranswick PLC, and various Northern Ireland-based red meat producers.
Explaining arc-net’s product, Kieran said: “Our solution gives companies and brand owners the ability to have independent validation of their food quality.
“It also increases the information flow across the entire supply chain, which helps ensure authenticity, quality, traceability and compliance, based on Blockchain technology.
“Our consumer-first approach ensures they get much greater insight into the product they are buying in terms of its origins and its journey to the shop they are buying it in.”
Entrepreneurial Spark is a business accelerator and growth hub for entrepreneurs.
It is part of a major international movement to encourage and support start-up and scale-up businesses.
Powered by Ulster Bank, the Entrepreneurial Spark Hatchery in Belfast provides free space for up to 80 entrepreneurs, with hands-on mentoring, a ‘bootcamp’ for business planning, and a free programme of up to 18-months of advice, support and expert workshops.