EquiTrace, a unique app that combines identity, GPS and medical records data using a scanner, a microchip and a mobile phone, today won Enterprise Ireland and the National Ploughing Association Best Start-Up Award and the new category of best Vet Tech company in the 11th Innovation Arena Awards. The awards, given out at the National Ploughing Championships in non-Covid years, recognise Irish innovations in agritech.
‘This award feels like a recognition of the hard work we’ve had to do to get here – a boost before the hard work of the next stage of growing a global business’ said Jennifer Corley, CEO and co-founder. ‘We’ve got at least a hundred things to spend the money on, not least of which is developing a new website.’
Paula Fitzsimons, national director of Going for Growth, said:
“From the time I first met her, Jennifer Corley had a clear vision of the type of innovation that she and Kevin believed was necessary within the equine sector. They have worked tirelessly to bring this idea to reality. We have been delighted within Going for Growth, which is sponsored by Enterprise Ireland and KPMG, to support Jennifer during the early stages of her entrepreneurial journey. Her Going for Growth voluntary Lead Entrepreneurs, Susan Spence, Fidelma McGuirk and Áine Denn, expect Jennifer’s well-deserved accolades to inspire the next stage of growth for the company. We look forward to continuing to support her, as Equitrace builds on world markets and fulfils its global potential.”
James Maloney, Innovation Arena Awards Manager, Enterprise Ireland said, “The winner of our first ever Vet Technology Award as well as the overall Best Start-Up award at this year’s Innovation Arena Awards is a simple to use and effective solution to the issue of traceability in the equine industry. There’s huge potential for EquiTrace globally in the equine industry and Enterprise Ireland looks forward to supporting the company in finding new opportunities for their innovative product.”
Technology challenges included creating a system that actually was useable in yard or field environments, could work in a low internet world and be able to recognise that there were three sex statuses for horses – mares, stallions and geldings.
‘Stables are often low or no internet environments, and we worked hard to make the App work seamlessly in such environments, syncing as soon as internet connectivity is restored,’ says CTO Dr Paul Hayton.
Following support during the beta testing stage, Merck Animal Health, known as MSD Animal Health outside the United Stated and Canada, a division of Merck & Co., Inc., Kenilworth, N.J., USA (NYSE:MRK), announced its strategic U.S. partnership with EquiTrace on 8 September 2021. The app can work in conjunction with Merck Animal Health’s Bio-Thermo® microchips, allowing horse care professionals to instantly read, graph and monitor a horse’s temperature easily.
“This partnership is a natural extension of our commitment to delivering innovative infectious disease management solutions to support improved horse care,” said Ron McDaniel, Director of U.S. Equine Sales, Merck Animal Health.
EquiTrace uses a scanner, an app on a mobile phone and a microchip in the horse itself. The co-founders of the company, Ms Corley, equine surgeon, and Dr Kevin Corley, specialist in equine medicine and critical care, have over 50 years experience working in the sector, so knew that it was important to make EquiTrace simple and straightforward to use.
Horses and technology have been a difficult fit, which is the main reason that the industry has been very slow to digitise. There are good practical reasons for this – think about using a laptop on a stable yard or in a field with horses and it is obvious how vulnerable the hardware is and how few opportunities there are in such environments to sit down and type. EquiTrace completed research that confirmed that 75% of farms are still using pen and paper records, at a time when regulatory authorities like Irish Horse Racing Regulatory Board (IHRB) are asking for more information, more often from trainers and owners. The mission of EquiTrace is to make a real impact on horse health and welfare by bringing the industry into the digital age. It’s important that it is done in a practical way that will appeal to everyone from the lads on the ground to the trainers, vets and ultimately regulatory authorities.
‘Horse welfare is our priority’ says Dr Kevin Corley, co-founder. ‘Eliminating human error, saving time, capturing high quality data is ultimately in everyone’s best interest. EquiTrace helps the horse world ensure that the right horse runs in the right race, that infectious diseases like strangles or herpes can be tracked and managed more effectively, supports treatment management to help avoid positive drugs tests and makes it much easier to track a horse through its whole life, supporting welfare initiatives for horses after their initial competitive career is over, something that we all want to happen, especially if we watched the recent Panorama programme.’
Enterprise Ireland (EI) has been a part of the EquiTrace story from the start, as mentors from EI and EI-supported initiatives Mairead English-Maher, Paula Fitzsimons, Aine Denn and Fidelma McGuirk have helped Jennifer Corley, an equine surgeon and founder of a previous veterinary app company, develop a truly global vision for EquiTrace. While the equine sector is worth $1.3 bn in Ireland, worldwide it is a $300 bn industry, with horses travelling around the world to compete in all competitive disciplines, from racing to polo, from show jumping to dressage. EquiTrace is already in use in USA, New Zealand, England, Sweden and Italy as well as Ireland.
EquiTrace is a subscription service, with a basic service for $1/€1 per month per horse and a premium subscription at $2/€2 per month per horse. A scanner available from EquiTrace as a one-time cost is required to operate the system, ranging in price from €250 to €400 or USA $350 to $550. EquiTrace works with all ISO-compliant microchips and some of the service offerings will be dependent on the type of chip in the horse. EquiTrace is available on Apple and Google appstores. Establishments with over 200 horses can contact EquiTrace directly to arrange a subscription. Current clients include DK Weld in Ireland, Ramsey Farm and Three Chimneys Farm in Kentucky, USA, Kinsale Stud in the UK and Avantea in Italy.