The winner of the MedTech 50 ranking for 2021 has displayed ‘exceptional results’ at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. 

Liverpool-based Hy-genie is the startup behind an IoT-powered hand sanitiser dispenser which tracks and records usage of sanitation stations across hospitals to prevent the spread of healthcare-associated infections. 

The technology was created by Richard Cooke, former director of infection prevention and control at Alder Hey, who came out of retirement in 2017 to found Hy-genie. 

The firm is now led by Gavin Delaney, who brings a background in early-stage businesses and tech transfer into the NHS from the private sector. 

The firm’s full product, Hy-genie, contains three combined technologies: a wall-mounted gel dispensing system which counts the number of uses, accompanying badges for health workers which identify who has used the dispenser and a ‘hub’ which collects and collates all that data. 

A ‘lite’ version includes just the first and last of these technologies. The goal with either version is to use data to prevent the spread of infections, not to penalise staff. 


A pilot study at Alder Hey demonstrated a 15% improvement in hand hygiene when using Hy-genie Lite. 

“The pilot went even better than I expected and produced some quite exceptional results,” Delaney told BusinessCloud. 

“The study at Alder Hey produced over 35,000 data points and the system was proved to be accurate to > 99%. 

“The trial resulted in an increase in hand hygiene events of 15%; in other words, individuals washed or gelled their hands 15% more often just by the system being deployed.”

There was no individual feedback during the trial, as it used the Lite version of the product. The study has moved onto the next stage, with the full system rolled out and individual feedback generated for each user. 

“In the last 12 months we have designed a system that is accurate, delivers robust data and is underpinned by robust academic research positioning it well for adoption in UK hospitals,” said Delaney. 

“We will shortly be deploying the system in the ICU at Alder Hey. We have three additional trusts lined up and hope to be able to release more details on that shortly.” 

In the last year, Hy-genie has formed an academic team committed to evidencing the accuracy and effectiveness of the system. 

“In the last 12 months we have published seven peer reviewed academic papers on hand hygiene, the problems, market solutions, competitors and health economics,” explained Delaney.  

“We have a further study about to be published, two under consideration and three more planned in the next nine months.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic is a clear validation of such a technology – but the circumstances have also made deployment into new institutions somewhat difficult. 

“Whilst the awareness of the importance of good hand hygiene has been raised, it has obviously been a very difficult time for all healthcare settings,” said Delaney. “Reduced access and the increased workload has meant that we have very much relied on our supporters and collaborators to move the business forward.” 

Hy-genie is one of many startups based at Nova in Liverpool, an organisation which helps fledgling entrepreneurs build their tech ideas into businesses via investment and practical support. 

“I would like to thank both the team at Hygenie but also our colleagues at Alder Hey, particularly those in the innovation department who have been pivotal in helping us get this important work done these last 12 months,” Delaney said. 

“We are delighted to have won this year’s competition, building on the sucess of the last 12 months. As CEO it is fantastic to see the work of the whole team, our partners, shareholders and technicians recognised by both a vote of their peers as well as the expert panel.”