Explore Life Sciences Ep.1: The Science of Business: Kevin Walsh Discusses Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Life Sciences

We’re excited to introduce you to our Explore Life Sciences Podcast. This is a new monthly podcast series that focuses on the Life Sciences industry.

The Life Sciences industry is one of the fastest-growing communities in the world and we aim to shine a light on some amazing personalities.

From life in the lab, to what’s driving business and the future of innovation across the Life Sciences Industries.

Our podcast, Explore Life Sciences is about both the Irish and global Life Sciences industries and the people who are leading change. Each week we talk to a different guest on a different topic and how they ended up where they are today. If you’re looking for some insight from some big influencers in the Life Sciences game, you’re in the right place!

Explore Life Sciences Ep.1: The Science of Business: Kevin Walsh Discusses Innovation & Entrepreneurship in Life Sciences

Meet Our First Guest: Kevin Walsh

A Waterford native with a passion for all things pharma and engineering related, Kevin is the Managing Director of Irish based The Aphex Group.

One of the South East’s leading young entrepreneurs, over the past four years, Kevin has built a group of companies that provides global Life Sciences with the high performing talent and tech they need to grow their global business and operations in Ireland.

Here are the top 3 things we learned from our chat with Kevin:

Kevin is a chemist turned entrepreneur

Richard Molloy: So we’ll kick things off, you want to just give a brief introduction to yourself and how you got to where you are today?

Kevin Walsh: Yeah, absolutely. I am a graduate of WIT, I studied for a degree in Applied Chemistry. I originally went to college back in 2005. And when I studied business, really enjoyed first year in college probably a little bit too much. I ended up dropping out and working for a number of years in jobs in restaurants, call centres, etc.

But I knew that I wanted to develop a professional career. So, I got into my degree in Chemistry, started out working as a QC analyst before moving into the field focusing initially on validation, eventually going down the contracting route, before setting up the Aphex Group whereby we now serve companies operating within the Life Sciences industry with our Recruitment, Validation and Chemishield service offerings.

The Aphex Group’s Chemishield was inspired by a real life lab accident

Richard Molloy: How did you come up with the idea for Chemishield?

Kevin Walsh:  For a lot of my career I was working in the lab on a variety of placements in global pharmaceutical companies. I was witness to a very serious chemical accident where a number of incompatible chemicals were put into the same waste container. And that led to an accident, the container actually exploded. And it got me thinking, you know, how could I look at preventing this from happening? It just seemed like such a simple thing. And I was just motivated to pursue that a little bit further.

So in my fourth year in college, I actually wrote my thesis on waste management. We had a little demo or prototype which has since become the Chemishield software. I was collecting people’s waste while they were doing real chemistry projects. I was a glorified waste collector here. But essentially, it was a really good proof of concept for Chemishield. I realized at the time that I needed to get out into the big bad world of Life Sciences and actually validate that this was a potential problem that’s actually trying to devise a solution. You know, it’s all well and good like having an idea for a solution to a problem. But that’s only one part of the jigsaw, you need to understand your market, you need to understand how businesses operate within Life Sciences. And you also need to build up your own personal reputation, which is, really, really important, because you could have bags and bags of enthusiasm, but you need to have credibility there as well.

While progress is being made there is greater room for innovation in the Life Sciences industry

Richard Molloy: Is there any blockers when you’re speaking with these big Life Sciences companies in Ireland? What would you consider to be like a blocker to their kind of innovation mindset?

Kevin Walsh: I think theres a lof of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” mentality that goes on. Generally, like labs, say, for example, where a lot of chemical waste is disposed of, they’re really busy environments. So the focus is on testing the product, making sure, you know, everything is exactly right for carrying batches.

Obviously, safety in labs, or any facility, is of paramount importance. And it’s really only until something happens sometimes that it kind of really helps drive a response or, you know, highlights the need to look at improving a process.

Because the goal is to test product to get it out the door, and how are we going to do this, you know, safely, but how are we going to do as quickly and as efficiently as possible, because at the end of the day, the companies or businesses with their bottom line is going to be affected. So I think, you know, when you’re presenting sometimes the solution to a potential problem with the client or prospect isn’t aware of this problem, yet. They can be, you know, maybe a little bit closed minded folks that maybe phrase it like that. Unfortunately, sometimes it does take for an accident to happen, to look for in response, in terms of implementing innovative software solutions like Chemishield.

But I think it’s all about, you know, phrasing it in the correct way, getting speaking to the correct people, and a lot of lateral movement towards, you know, trying to be paperless and moving towards digital technologies and we’re at the forefront of that. We can go and we can offer a digital solution that actually has a meaningful change in labs- a digital PPE for your lab.

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