Virtual Vet

A Waterford company is making big strides in changing drug use behaviour in the food chain.

VirtualVet, a young, innovative data management company, tracks drug usage in animals in the food chain reducing the risk of misuse and overuse of animal remedies in food production.

Sinead Quealy, Managing Director of VirtualVet explains where the idea for the business came from. “I was frustrated by the way animal medicines were monitored in Ireland. While EU policy is clear, the implementation falls far short of what is possible to make a positive contribution to farmer's lives, animal health, public health and the image of Irish food.”

Sinead realised that the business model in animal drug usage recording had to change, and in 2017 VirtualVet was born to place a value on the important animal drug usage information farmers have. 

Sinead acknowledges that there is still a lack of recognition within some areas of the Irish agri-food industry of the risks posed to their business by, for example, antibiotic usage. By recording dosages for famers, reporting to the agri-food and animal health industries and monitoring for agencies such as Bord Bia, VirtualVet can help mitigate these risks and make a positive change to animal and public health.

Of the support available to start-ups in Ireland Sinead says, “Structurally, there are many great resources available for start-ups in Ireland, which is encouraging for any entrepreneur. We were lucky to avail of these supports from both the Waterford LEO and The Employment Investment Incentive Scheme (EIIS). These proved invaluable in getting us to where we are now and gave us the springboard to concentrate our efforts on growing the business.”

Waterford Local Enterprise Office is focused on “Making it Happen” for pre-start, start-up and established businesses by providing a range of financial and soft supports. Waterford LEO backed the venture from the outset, with VirtualVet winning the Waterford National Enterprise Final earlier this month. Sinead and her team will represent Waterford in the National Finals in Dublin on May 29th.

Starting a business requires dedication, commitment and, above all, support. “I have a great board of directors, team and family. My friends understand that I have disappeared down a large company-sized hole, and I appreciate the space and their encouragement.”

“The biggest help has been the leap of faith our main agri-food partner took to work with us. We've grown our revenue with them every quarter and they have validated our vision and approach…that's a huge reassurance to the company.” 

VirtualVet is striving to grow its client base by becoming a trusted implementation tool of EU agricultural policy in Ireland and Europe.

For any aspiring entrepreneurs or those thinking of taking their business to the next level Sinead encourages them to ensure that the solution they are providing solves the client’s issues.