Tech firm arc-net secures £2m stake to push growth

Dr Richard Steevens, left, and arc-net CEO Kieran Kelly pictured at the funding announcement in Belfast
Dr Richard Steevens, left, and arc-net CEO Kieran Kelly pictured at the funding announcement in Belfast

The founder of one of the world’s largest medical outsourcing firms, which he recently sold for almost $2 billion, is making a £2 million investment in a Belfast start-up set to revolutionise traceability in the global food chain.

Dr Richard Steeves, who founded FTSE 250 outsourcer Synergy Health plc in 1991 and built it into a global medical hygiene business, is making the investment in arc-net, a Belfast-based specialist in food chain traceability and analytics.

The new business was founded by local entrepreneur Kieran Kelly in 2014, and also has offices in Edinburgh.

Its cloud-based platform enables food producers and retailers to assure customers of the provenance and authenticity of their products using Blockchain and DNA technology. It already counts some of the world’s largest food producers amongst its clients.

A recent PWC report highlighted food fraud costs the industry in excess of $40 billion a year. arc-net addresses this issue by authenticating and tracking food from creation through to consumption leveraging the power of Blockchain’s security.

Currently employing 20 people it aims to increase its team to 50 people, with new jobs in areas such as development, data analytics, and sales and marketing.

Mr Kelly said the funding will enable the company to accelerate and support its rapid growth.

“Dr Richard Steeves has an incredible track-record, having built one of the largest medical outsourcing firms from scratch to sell it for more than $2 billion.

“He is a visionary in the truest sense of the word, and the fact that he shares our vision for arc-net is a massive endorsement of our service, our strategy, and the potential of our company.

“arc-net’s solution gives companies and brand owners the ability to have independent validation of their food quality. Our service also increases the information flow across the entire supply chain, which helps ensure authenticity, quality, traceability and compliance, based on Blockchain technology.

“We see significant demand for what we have to offer and this investment will put us in a very strong position to capitalise on that.”

Dr Steeves, who was recently recognised by EY as UK Entrepreneur of the Year, said that arc-net represents a fantastic investment opportunity.

“I am very excited to be supporting arc-net and their objective to revolutionise food supply chain security using their novel technology.

“I also find the social aspect of arc-net’s service compelling, working with the food industry to improve transparency and authenticity,” he added.