During lockdown, we decided to share some facts about Cirdan, our people, our products and our developments as something positive, light and unrelated to Covid to share with our followers. This amounted to 18 fun facts every Friday for 18 weeks:
1) Cirdan’s HQ is based on the shores of Northern Ireland’s Lagan River in Lambeg
This location and its surrounding area used to be a linen beach works at the turn of the 19th Century which was the powerhouse for Ireland at that time.The reason the area was so good for producing linen was due to the damp climate of the nearby Lagan Valley.
2) The inspiration for the company name Cirdan came from J. R. R. Tolkien’s well known Lord of the Rings Trilogy
The founders of Cirdan were inspired by a quote from Mark Twain about life:“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore! Dream! Discover!” This quote and the belief that setting up the company felt like embarking on a voyage meant that there was no better choice than to name the vessel for this great voyage Cirdan. Círdan, who is a character from J. R. R. Tolkien’s well known Lord of the Rings Trilogy, was a very noble and wise Elf from Middle-Earth. He was a great mariner who built ships and therefore, was true to the name ‘Círdan’ meaning ‘shipwright’ in Elvish.
3)There have been five Pathology Horizons conferences since Cirdan began hosting them in 2015
Three of these have taken place in the Southern Hemisphere and two in the Northern Hemisphere. The location moves hemispheres each year in the hope that everyone will get a chance to attend the event at some point. The venues for the conference have varied widely, each year going from one part of the world to another.
- 2015: King Fisher Resort – Fraser Island, Australia
- 2016: Connacht Hotel – Galway, Ireland
- 2017: Paradise Palms – Cairns, Australia
- 2018: Lough Erne Resort – Fermanagh, N. Ireland
- 2019: The Heritage Hotel – Queenstown, New Zealand
We are looking forward to what Pathology Horizons 2021 in County Down, N. Ireland has in store, albeit one year later than planned!
4) Cirdan’s company vision is to Improve Wellbeing Through Innovation
One of our innovations at the moment is Artificial Intelligence – or as we like to call it, Machine Learning. We are working on developing algorithms that can aid physicians and clinicians for decision making in cancer diagnosis by automatically doing the simple tasks to speed up and improve workflow, all by learning from patterns or features from previous diagnosis. For example, in mammogram x-rays the system can point out the relevant points of interest so that someone with less training could have the same level of expertise as someone who is longer in the field. Therefore, by utilising innovative Machine Learning techniques, we can improve wellbeing by making better use of clinicians’ time and reducing the length of time patients wait for a diagnosis.
5) Cirdan runs regular Community of Practice sessions for ULTRA LIS to help improve customer experience
ULTRA Community of Practice is an exciting initiative that allows our customers to partner with us to influence and shape the product evolution of ULTRA Laboratory Information System (LIS). We do this in a number of ways:
- Demonstrating new features currently in development and facilitating discussions to get feedback.
- Exploring how customers use current ULTRA functionality.
- Understanding how improvements can be made.
- Gaining an understanding of users’ workflows so that we can make ULTRA seamless and easy to use.
The initiative also provides participants with the opportunity to network with each other and share ideas. Over the course of 2019, we have run 10 separate webinar sessions with NHS clients and have received over 80 pieces of individual feedback, which have been fed into the ULTRA development process. The process involves spending time in the labs in order to fully understand how ULTRA is used and what improvements can be made.
6) We achieved our Medical Device Single Audit Program (MDSAP) certification last year
MDSAP allows a single audit of a medical device manufacturer’s Quality Management System (QMS) which satisfies the requirements of multiple regulatory jurisdictions (BSI Group).These jurisdictions include Australia, Brazil, Canada, United States, Japan. Cirdan successfully achieved MDSAP certification last year for its Quality Management System (QMS) and has been positively recommended for re-certification this year. MDSAP is mandatory in Canada, with companies that are not MDSAP compliant no longer able to sell medical devices there with the other participating countries USA, Australia, Japan and China, expecting to follow thereafter.
This certification further demonstrates Cirdan’s commitment to continuing to embed a strong quality culture and solid foundation for global market growth and further strengthens our QMS for the future within this heavily regulated industry.
7) We have a variety of pets that are part of the Cirdan family!
Dogs, cats, cows, hamsters and alpacas to name a few.
8) At Cirdan we encourage and promote wellbeing practices within the workplace
Wellbeing programmes have been introduced to provide resources, initiatives and guides on how to both maintain and improve wellbeing inside and outside the workplace. Looking after yourself is an essential part of life but we are all guilty of getting caught up in our busy schedules that we forget to take time out to do this. Going outside at lunch time with a colleague, trying something new like couch to 5k or small acts of kindness for a colleague are all positive ways to help create a more healthy and productive work environment.
At Cirdan we encourage and promote wellbeing practices within the workplace. Some initiatives include: an onsite gym; fresh fruit and veg delivered onsite; group couch to 5k programme; bicycle storage and offline/online seminars covering stress management, mental health, nutrition and in recent times tips for working from home and coping through Covid times. We enjoy our coffee mornings as we all love a sweet treat from time to time too and supporting our company charity at the same time adds a real ‘feel good’ factor.
9) Cirdan has 3 offices worldwide in 2 different hemispheres
Cirdan has three offices worldwide situated in two different hemispheres in three different time zones! This allows us to offer our customers 24/7 365-day support with a global follow-the-sun model. Here are some interesting facts you may or may not know about the locations our offices are based in:
- Markham, Canada – is the high-tech capital of Canada.
- Ballarat, Australia – is the most significant Victorian era gold rush boom towns in Australia.
- Lisburn, N. Ireland – is the birthplace of Ireland’s linen industry.
More facts about the locations here.
10) Cirdan celebrated its 10 year anniversary this year
Here are some key milestones form our 10 years in business:
11) ‘SME’ in the world of Cirdan is short for Subject Matter Expert
The abbreviation ‘SME’ in the world of Cirdan is short for Subject Matter Expert. An SME in this context is someone with extensive technical knowledge on how to use our Laboratory Information System (LIS) – ULTRA, from a clinical perspective. For example, they can be a specialist in Microbiology, Transfusion Medicine, Anatomic Pathology, Molecular etc.
Here are just some of the highlights of the role SMEs play in both the development and implementation of ULTRA LIS:
- Assist clients with the intricacies so they get the best user experience when using ULTRA.
- ULTRA is large and complex, one person cannot know it all, so we need various people to know all the details of the various modules to be able to provide guidance.
- Be the voice of the customer when providing feedback to software developers on how to move the product forward in giving the best user experience.
- Give sanity checks for new code by looking at it from a user perspective based on having interacted with the customers.
- Provide training sessions for clients and assist in conducting information gathering sessions with clients for the evolution of the product.
12) We love to hear from past Cirdan placement alumni and how they are progressing in their careers
Peter McLoughlin joined us at Cirdan back in 2016 for a summer placement whilst studying at university. Now a fully qualified medical doctor at Belfast City Hospital, it is great to see a member of the Cirdan placement alumni advancing in his career and undertaking tremendous work within the field of medicine. During his placement, Peter had the opportunity to give a short presentation at Pathology Horizons 2016 in Galway, Ireland. His talk on ‘Integrative Genomics of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer’ was very well received. Well done Peter and stay in touch!
13) All of our imaging solutions are designed and manufactured in-house here in our HQ in Lambeg, Northern Ireland
To ensure the reliability and performance of our products, PathLite, CoreLite and upcoming imaging products, we have invested in expanding our production area and facilities. This includes a dedicated research and development lab space where our specialist team members conduct the research to both improve on existing product features as well as plan for future products.
After R&D, products are then taken from concept to design by both hardware and software development teams until they are ready to be shipped to global locations. Developing and manufacturing our products in-house allows us to have more agility in the production phase, to embrace new technological advances quickly and essentially, anticipate and adapt to changing consumer needs and requirements.
14) We can spot Kingfishers in their natural habitat from the view of our office windows at HQ
Kingfishers are small distinctive bright blue and orange birds which fly rapidly low over water, and hunt fish from riverside perches, occasionally hovering above the water’s surface.Kingfishers can be seen all year round and are generally found by still or slow flowing water such as lakes, canals and rivers in lowland areas which are clean enough to support abundant small fish. Did you know? There are 90 species of kingfisher around the world! The Australian kingfisher, the Laughing Kookaburra is the heaviest of all the kingfisher species!
15) Our staff volunteer for some really great initiatives
Jenna McGarry, our Head of IQMS (Information Security & Quality Management) has been volunteering for the past few years as a STEM ambassador in association with W5, the STEM Ambassador hub for Northern Ireland. The initiative involves spending time with young people in their local schools to inspire them about STEM and how these subjects can lead to exciting and diverse careers locally.With a background in studying STEM subjects and a degree in Biomedical Engineering, Jenna is passionate about making a difference in this area. It has not only laid down the foundations for her path to her current role as Head of IQMS, but is a very rewarding field of work where you can be part of a company that can contribute positively to a vital industry in society through innovative technology. When asked about volunteering, Jenna said: “I really enjoy being a STEM Ambassador and helping to promote an understanding of STEM subjects and skills, getting to challenge perceptions and stereotypes within this field, and most importantly having fun answering all the crazy questions from the children.”
16) Sean Latimer, Mechanical Engineer and one of the founding members of Cirdan completed a 6 week hike with the Camino de Santiago last year
Sean Latimer, Mechanical Engineer and one of the founding members of Cirdan is passionate about keeping fit and spending time in the great outdoors. Last year he completed a 6 week hike with the Camino de Santiago.The Camino de Santiago French Way (Camino Frances) is a popular pilgrimage walk that runs for 800km point to point across Northern Spain from St Jean Pied de Port on the French border to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.Sean shared the following: “I undertook the walk along with my brother Patrick. I left St Jean Pied de Port on Saturday 7th Sept and reached Santiago de Compostela on Wednesday 16th October 2019. From St Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela you pass through upwards of 300 hamlets, villages, towns & cities. I stayed in 37 different locations along the way and according to google maps I ascended 9640mt (32487ft) & descended 9544mt (32763ft) between the two locations. On reaching the Cathedral I had walked 980km in total. I had the privilege of meeting many remarkable people along the way and I will have those people with me in my memories for a very long time. A truly wonderful experience.”
17) Over the past 5 years we have had over 25 placement and summer work experience students join the team at Cirdan
At Cirdan we believe in investing in the next generation.Especially, in the difficult times we find ourselves in as a result of COVID-19, we believe that providing university students with the opportunity to gain vital industry experience is more important now than ever before.Sophie Cowan, one of our current placement Lab Analyst students had this to say, when asked about what she found most unique about Cirdan: “I think what’s unique about Cirdan is how quickly I felt like a member of the team. I’ve never felt like “just a student” and from day one everyone was so friendly, welcoming, and willing to help us learn. This helped me pick up on the team’s processes more quickly so that I could assist with user story development, writing my first user story on my second week of placement. I’ve also never felt confined to just one task during my placement, having the flexibility to assist with verification and validation testing, instrument interface testing and documentation, and tender processes in the form of writing responses, as well as my primary role with the design team.”
18) Everyone in our team has a vital role to play in the success of our business!
At Cirdan, we believe everyone in our team has a vital role to play – we caught up with Paul Rainey, our R&D Engineer to tell us about his work and how he contributes to the team at Cirdan. “The main bulk of my role is product design and development on imaging of excised tissue, so essentially, investigating if detection of relevant features (i.e. microcalcifications or tumour masses) varies significantly when imaging components and parameters are varied. Then, feeding those early stage design outputs back into product design, and when the design is more solidified, optimising performance, developing imaging quality control metrics and troubleshooting of any problems related to image quality. Data analysis and interpretation is important. A typical day poses various challenges related to making sense of the data in front of me. Radiation protection is another aspect of my job role, for example, ensuring radiation equipment compliance with regulations.”