Belfast-headquartered Diaceutics to create up to 50 new jobs in the city by 2020

Peter Keeling, CEO of Belfast-headquartered data analytics firm Diaceutics
Gareth McKeown

THE Belfast-head of a global data analytics firm has said he could create up to 50 new jobs in the city by 2020 as the company sets its sights on generating $100 million (£75 million) turnover by 2020.

Peter Keeling is the chief executive officer and founder of Diaceutics, a company that connects patients to the right diagnostic test so they can get personalised medicine to treat or cure their condition first time. Working with the world's largest pharmaceutical companies and using his 30 years of experience in the industry, Mr Keeling has grown a global business, which now has a revenue of $10 million and offices in Belfast, Dundalk and New Jersey in the US. Earlier this year the company, launched in 2005, announced 30 jobs on the back of 60 per cent revenue growth and the former Queen's University graduate believes the possibilities are endless, with the precision medicine area in which Diaceutics operates experiencing "exponential" growth and predicted to become a a £4 billion industry by 2020.

The firm currently employs 60 people, 15 of which are based in Belfast at Enterprise House on Adelaide Street in finance and HR roles.

"The only real check on growth is not having the numbers and size to be able to deal with more contracts," Mr Keeling said.

"I would say we're at 60 staff now, we'll be at 100 by next year, I would say we're looking at 200 by 2020. Of that I'm guessing a third to a quarter will be based here."

"$100 million turnover is not beyond the realms of possibility, that's what our eyes are set on. Three, four years. It's doable in that time, there's no limit on the market, it's a case of getting the team and the infrastructure in place."

"More recently we've recognised that the growth of the business, it feels a little like a race horse that wants to go, because the demand for what we're doing is increasing, so we are actively looking for funding options that will help support that growth."

"There are no direct competitors for what we do. There are senior groups, senior consulting groups like Ernst and Young and they have a group in Boston, which provides consulting to the pharmaceutical industry, but nobody is doing the data, the implementation and sourcing the patients from around the world," he continued.

Through its work, Diaceutics has so far helped with the planning and or launch of more than 200 drugs worldwide by taking on the commercialisation of the diagnostics on behalf of the pharmaceutical companies. While business is good Mr Keeling is proud of what the company has achieved so far and the difference it has made to patients' lives.

"We're pretty sure that the job that we're doing is transformative, not just to our clients, because they're getting patients on the drug, but it is transformative to the disease. We have delivered 250 projects over 12 years and 100,000 to 150,000 more patients are getting tested because Diaceutics exists and I'm very proud of that.

Yes we're making money and building a business, but we're actually making a difference to these patient's lives."

When asked about the political uncertainty in both Northern Ireland and in relation to Brexit, Mr Keeling believes it is "hugely unhelpful" and said a hard Brexit could have unwelcome consequences for his business.

"The impact of Brexit on Diaceutics is probably not on us directly, but indirectly on our clients," he said.

"It might not necessarily impact us in Northern Ireland, but it will impact our clients, the pharmaceutical companies and that has to indirectly make life much harder for all of us trying to make two, three, four, five year plans. Brexit is by and large a destructive conversation for business, that's my view. It just make life harder unnecessarily, a bit like the political uncertainty in Northern Ireland."

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