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28 February, 2020 - 09:20 By Tony Quested

Cognidox targets megabucks US medical device market with new tech

One of the unsung heroes of the Cambridge technology scene has engineered pole position in a global medical device market worth megabucks.

Cognidox has launched a nextgen quality management system solution which represents its largest ever product upgrade and looks primed for glory in the US especially.

v10 is a bottom-up new design of document management software initially designed to meet the needs of the Cambridge semiconductor cluster. 

As well as its traditional hi-tech product development customers the company – based at Eagle Labs in Cambridge – says it is experiencing surging interest from medical device development companies.

New research puts the global Quality Management Software (eQMS) market at a projected value of $13.9 billion within the next five years.

The rise and rise of the UK business is remarkable given its roots as a chip design ‘spin-out’ from Cambridge tech pioneer Virata which provided communications software and semiconductors to manufacturers of DSL, wireless, satellite and other broadband networking equipment

Virata, led by Cambridge entrepreneur Charles Cotton, was acquired by GlobeSpan for $1.3bn in October 2001 – 18 months after winning Business of the Year in the Business Weekly Awards.

Cotton recalls Cognidox’ roots. He told me: “Paul Walsh was the head of software at Virata and an absolutely lovely Irish guy who sadly died from cancer in October 2017.

“Using technology he developed at Virata, he became the co-founder and CEO of Cognidox. After his passing, Joe Byrne took over from Paul with the active support of Paul’s wife Alison.”

With international customers including UltraSOC, DisplayLink, Coalesce and Ranplan Wireless, Cognidox has market validity to burn and enviable street cred.


The Cognidox team in Cambridge

The Version 10 iteration reflects a relentless push for perfection. Joe Byrne reflects: “It’s our biggest product release to date which will provide us with the platform to expand into the US eQMS software market for medical device development companies.

“Version 10 has been a labour of love; every page in the our comprehensive system has been re-designed and the user experience has been greatly enhanced.

“We’ve listened to and worked with our customers to understand their needs and priorities. As a result, v10 delivers better, more seamless document management functionality through a new user interface, a responsive mobile design, an integrated help system, a new Graphical Business Management layout and much more.

“In v10, the new interface includes a new top navigation bar throughout the system and a side bar actions menu on each page. These give customers a more intuitive experience, optimised for a greater range of screen sizes and device types. 

“As well as the extensive list of actions available in the side bar, most pages have a set of main action buttons at the top which give you quick access to your most commonly-used actions.  

“Meanwhile, customisable portlets on the home page still act as the nerve-centre for a company’s document management, helping them access information more quickly and get to work faster whenever they log in.

“We realise our customers are increasingly working remotely and need the flexibility to review, approve, and comment on documents wherever they are. 

“Our new, mobile responsive design is intended to support customers  in these activities as effortlessly as possible, but with an emphasis on maintaining the security and integrity of documents held within the system.  

“This is an important consideration as they often contain sensitive IP and personal data. With this mobile solution, no data heavy app downloads or offline storage is necessary – just fast, seamless and highly secure mobile access to all documents with integral Cognidox functionality optimised for every device.”

A number of other innovations are inherent in v10 which supports a greater range of Linux versions for Cognidox enterprise customers.

Cognidox on mobile phone

Cognidox started life as Doxbox – an in-house tool for Virata. The goal was to make product development better by breaking down barriers between teams and making peer reviews much easier to do.

As Virata grew from startup to a publicly-listed company with a $1bn market cap, the tool helped Cognidox, as it became, manage explosive growth in customer engagement. The company achieved the twin goals of improving its internal processes and securely sharing product design information with customers.

When the chance came to acquire the Doxbox IPR, Walsh took it, Joe Byrne recalls. “With a new name, we started to offer the solution to other companies. We found a market that was dominated then by ECM software that was expensive and difficult to use. 

“Because we had features that had been proven to work and could be used by people with only minimal training, we had a great response. Users would frequently recommend Cognidox to friends or a new employer.

“Cognidox became a key tool for companies who had never considered using a document management system before, and we were their first solution. Today, we have customers in over a dozen industry sectors.”

Charles Cotton recalls: “We achieved a number of stunning accomplishments at and after the IPO. Our shares were 17 times over-subscribed, our share price doubled on the first day of trading and went from $14 on November 16th 1999 to $222 on March 6th 2000. We achieved  a >$5bn market capitalisation.

“It was the third largest market capitalisation for a Cambridge company in the last 20 years after Arm and Autonomy. We bought four companies in 2000 and raised $530 million in a secondary offering in July of that year.”

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