Heavy hit­ters join Con­roy’s €100m health tech fund

Ex-unilever and ABP Foods bosses join John Con­roy’s new well­ness ven­ture

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - Samantha Mc­caugh­ren

THE for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive of Mer­rion Cap­i­tal, John Con­roy, has launched a €100m health and well­ness fund that has a strong em­pha­sis on tech.

Con­roy is pitch­ing the Ac­ton Health and Well­ness Fund to fam­ily of­fices and in­sti­tu­tions, with in­ter­est from Ir­ish in­vestors ex­pected to be keen.

Sev­eral high-pro­file busi­ness peo­ple are in­volved in the project, which aims to in­vest in up to 16 com­pa­nies.

His high-pow­ered ad­vi­sory team will be chaired by for­mer Unilever ceo Niall Fitzger­ald and will in­clude en­trepreneur Mary Ann O’brien. Sev­eral lead­ing med- ical and food ex­perts are also in­volved, in­clud­ing pro­fes­sor Richard Reilly, direc­tor of bio­engi­neer­ing at Trin­ity Col­lege.

The in­vest­ment com­mit­tee is chaired by Paul Fin­nerty, the for­mer ceo of ABP Foods, and he is joined by Trevor Bowen, a for­mer direc­tor at Prin­ci­ple Man­age­ment — which man­aged U2.

Con­roy has been work­ing on the project for some time and it pre­vi­ously emerged that for­mer world cham­pion ath­lete Eamonn Cogh­lan and for­mer vice-chair­man of Eir­com Con Scan­lon were in­volved. The fund plans to in­vest in com­pa­nies that are in­no­vat­ing in the ar­eas of health and well­ness.

“The two si­los we are fo­cus­ing on is con­sumer-fo­cused dig­i­tal health and also func­tional foods. We feel the op­por­tu­nity is big in th­ese ar­eas,” Con­roy said. “You have this di­chotomy, a sec­tion of the pop­u­la­tion is fit­ter than ever and an­other sec­tion has ma­jor health is­sues.”

There are sev­eral op­por­tu­ni­ties for busi­nesses de­liv­er­ing so­lu­tions, he said, such as “try­ing to re­duce the re­liance on pri­mary care, and other trends are that more peo­ple want to take con­trol of their own health and more peo­ple are us­ing more tech­nol­ogy”.

Con­roy be­lieves that Ire­land is uniquely po­si­tioned to develop com­pa­nies in the health and well­ness area give the strong pres­ences of global medtech com­pa­nies here, as well as the thriv­ing food sec­tor, which has pro­duced world-class com­pa­nies such as Glan­bia and Kerry.

He be­lieves that with the fund’s back­ing some emerg­ing com­pa­nies have the op­por­tu­nity to be­come in­ter­na­tional play­ers. Con­roy founded Mer­rion Cap­i­tal in 2000 when he and six col­leagues left NCB Stock­bro­kers. They were backed by bou­tique in­vest­ment bank Allen & Co, which has high-level busi­ness con­nec­tions in the US. Con­roy and Allen ex­ited in 2014.

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