“Our vision is to find technology solution ideas for the biggest problems the world is facing right now” – Q&A with John O’Connell and Josephine Lynch of CW Applied Technology

By Business & Finance
28 April 2023
Pictured: John O’Connell, Managing Director of CW Applied Technology, and Josephine Lynch, Product Manager of CW Applied Technology

CW Applied Technology offers design, manufacturing and fulfilment services, and is one of the eight companies participating in Bord na Móna’s Accelerate Green programme.

What inspired you to start your company?

In setting up CW Applied Technology, we envisioned the company as an open innovation platform developed on the basis of technology established around four core functions: timing, positioning, sensing and communication. These base technologies are still the foundations of most innovations within the technology sector today. We view ourselves as partners to our customers, our employees, our community and our environment. We aim to become a globally recognized brand name, capitalizing on the sustained interest in new and innovative technological solutions to real problems. Our goal from the beginning has been to make a real difference and achieve sustainable growth in the service of our customers.

What is your core product/service offering and what gap in the market are you trying to address?

We offer design and manufacturing services in the electronics and technology sector. We believe there is a significant gap in the market in enabling innovative electronics hardware to find their way from inventors and SMEs to the market. The ecosystem in Ireland today for innovative development is excellent – certainly in comparison to Ireland of twenty years ago. However, many ideas for innovative development still ‘die on the vine’, and we believe that through our platform we can deliver positive and creative action in addressing the climate crisis the world is facing. Our manufacturing services provide a real, collaborative partnership for our clients, regardless of what stage of their journey they are at, including repatriation of their manufacturing requirements from overseas and assisting them in reducing their products’ carbon footprint.

Is there a particular sustainability related issue that your business is trying to solve?

There are two key sustainability issues our business is seeking to address. The first is that we believe entrepreneurship is the single best way of enabling great ideas to solve today’s sustainability problems, and we want to make the path to bringing those ideas to fruition somewhat easier for our clients. The world needs the best technological solutions to make their way to the market in the most uninhibited way possible. We have a very clear vision of what needs to be done to help that to happen at CW Applied. The second is to make our manufacturing the most sustainable and ‘green’ manufacturing process in the industry and as part of that, contribute to the reduction of our customers’ carbon footprint by being part of the great reshoring of manufacturing currently underway. Reshoring is currently more evident in mainland Europe and the USA than in Ireland. Much reshoring at present is happening due to geopolitical reasons, but companies are also increasingly moving more and more products to be customisable closer to market. Regardless of the reason, the positive impact on carbon footprint is undeniable.

How important is professional networking for you as you grow your business? 

It’s vitally important. Over the years, our professional network has been key in identifying impressive product ideas and fantastic customers. As part of the Accelerate Green programme, we examined the source of all the clients we have currently, and professional networking has been a fundamental part of our success in each case. Among the many other benefits of participating in the Accelerate Green business accelerator programme, the ability to grow our business’s professional network by engaging with other like-minded innovators is a standout.  We believe that expanding your professional network is  vital for all companies, and CW Applied are no different in that regard.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced since starting your company?

We bootstrapped the company from day one. Given the scale of vision and ambition we have for the company, bootstrapping from this point forward is not a viable option. Our vision, in a nutshell, is to find technology solution ideas for the biggest problem the world is facing right now, test and validate those ideas, and, for those we truly believe in, invest in building a strong team around the inventor (or if the inventor wants a back seat, we recruit a suitable CEO), help them to grow a successful company

What ambitions do you have for your business in the next 1-2 years?

We strive to deliver on the ambition and vision that inspired us to set up CW Applied Technology in the first place. We have been somewhat distracted from that vision over the intervening years as we needed to ensure our business remained viable and like any SME, cashflow has been essential at all times. Over the next two years, with the right investment partner who shares the same ambition and vision, we believe we can really make a difference to the eco-system for start-ups in this country and take it to a level which will cause other industries and countries to sit up and take notice. We believe if we do this right, we can start to attract great ideas from abroad also and make significant technology-based contributions where it’s needed more than ever, in tackling climate change.

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