EQUILUME, a UCD bio-tech spin out company was founded in 2012 by Dr Barbara Murphy, head of equine science at UCD and Professor John Sheridan after years of pioneering research.
Dr Murphy identified that horses need light for more than just vision. Daylight synchronises their ‘internal clock’ – a complex control system that coordinates to a 24-hour (circadian) or 365-day (circannual) rhythm. From this, it was concluded that light can influence performance and reproductive efficiency.
The Equilume Light Mask launched into the market in 2013, initially for thoroughbreds, to induce early reproductive cycles in mares while permitting outdoor maintenance in their natural environment. Further research revealed that there were many other beneficial applications of the light mask; coat conditioning is fast becoming the most popular application across show horse owners and sales fitters worldwide.
Equilume, headquartered at the heart of the equine industry in Co Kildare, now sells to every equine hub across the world, from Hunter Valley in Australia where the first commercial mask was fitted in 2013 to the Kentucky Bluegrass and southern shores of Texas.
In this short time, the Equilume Light Mask benefits have now been widely published in veterinary journals and academic text books.
A SPECIALIST TEAM
This young company has huge ambitions and now employs a team of 16 people. Company founder, Dr Barbara Murphy is the chief scientific officer and heads up the research and development department. Dr Murphy, an expert in circadian cycles in animals also assists the team in providing bespoke lighting consultations for clients. At the heart of everything Equilume does is developing science-based lighting solutions backed by research. This vision gives rise to a busy research and development department.
Assisting Barbara on the research trials is Christiane O’Brien, responsible for correlating all the data collected from the trials. Emma Taylor, the product manager, has been instrumental in introducing the new light mask models and the Stable Light to the market as well as upgrading the design of the original Belfield model. Emma managed a reproduction clinic in New Zealand before joining the sales team in April 2016 and took on the role of product manager in February of this year.
Jason Popplewell leads the sales team as commercial director. Jason comes to the team with over 25 years’ experience working with corporate companies such as Heineken, Coke, Lily O’Brien’s and Lir Chocolates. Jacqui Draper, the longest standing member of the team having been with Equilume since the beginning manages all the wholesalers, agents and retail partners mapping out a route to market across the globe.
The sales team is fast growing, Louise Daly is the territory manager for Europe and brings an in-depth knowledge of the sport horse market having competed at a high level. Amandine Lee Warner, a graduate of the Darley Flying Start programme is the territory manager for Australia and New Zealand. Amandine joined Equilume in September from PlusVital.
Stateside, there are currently four territory managers. Shalise Gallaher based in Kentucky manages the thoroughbred market. The quarter horse market has become a huge target for Equilume resulting in two territory managers based in Texas. Krista Hazlett looks after central USA, north Texas and Canada, while Stephanie Standridge looks after the west coast and west Texas. Another recent recruit is Erin Lundy, based in California.
Planning and implementing the marketing and communications strategy is marketing director, Sarah Nash who joined the team from Irish Thoroughbred Marketing in July. Assisting Sarah is Niamh O’Donohoe, responsible for graphic design and digital media.
The business team is headed up by CEO Alan Morrissey – Alan joined Equilume in August of 2016 – and assisted by business manager Elizabeth O’Shaughnessy who has been with the company since 2014. Elizabeth has a comprehensive knowledge of the equine industry having worked on thoroughbred stud farms in Australia and the US. Paula O’Brien is the newest addition to the team and recently joined as financial director from Dublin Airport Authority.
The Northern Hemisphere breeding season is a busy time for the team and they can be seen at every equine event and bloodstock sale across the globe.
New products in the pipeline for 2018 along with the diversification into the agri-sector after receiving two innovation awards for the Bovine Light Mask at the Ploughing Championships see huge ambitions for Equilume.
New and improved
This year has seen massive expansion for the company with two new light mask models launched to the market along with the Stable Light designed to replicate natural light indoors. The Equilume Curragh (replaceable) and Equilume Cashel (rechargeable) addresses market demands for reusable products. The new models allow you to detach the cup for replacement or recharging when needed, permitting reuse of the headpiece for multiple seasons.
Modern Management of horses requires that they spend a large proportion of the 24-hour day indoors, unexposed to optimum daylight and frequently disrupted by light at night. This regime negatively impacts the horse’s body clock and can result in impaired growth, reduced immune response, poor appetite and performance. The Equilume Stable Light was designed to counteract these problems by providing the horse with biologically effective light.