The past year delivered a perfect storm for Irish start-ups with the dual challenge of dealing with the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses and the impending Brexit deadline.
We've seen first-hand how companies responded by being agile, competitive and innovative in finding new ways to sustain their business and keep teams together in a radically changed environment.
Covid-19 has created obvious challenges but interestingly some opportunities, both economically and socially.
Despite the pandemic, and the immense toll it has taken, the Irish start-up community has continued to innovate, to create jobs and to adapt.
Enterprise Ireland is helping start and scale some of the most disruptive companies the State has ever seen, particularly in the medtech sector. A combination of Enterprise Ireland (High Potential Start-Up) HPSU equity support, non-dilutive funding from the Government in the form of Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF) and the EU H2020 programmes have resulted in game-changing companies and opportunities that are going to transform and shape the future of global healthcare and computing.
Ireland has punched beyond its weight when it comes to securing EU innovative funding and, combined with direct State investment from Enterprise Ireland's HPSU unit, we have lots of reasons to be optimistic about our future.
The danger of highlighting examples in an article such as this is that I will inevitably leave others out - please be assured this is not the intent, nevertheless there are some that jump to mind which I think are worth sharing.
Companies such as Novus Diagnostics (Septec) whose origins come from Dublin City University, are tackling a multi-billion euro opportunity by rapid detection of infection (sepsis) in seriously ill patients.
Deciphex (another DCU alumni) is transforming digital pathology using artificial intelligence (AI). This is an incredible software-driven medtech company that is using real AI to accurately diagnose and help pathologists identify and focus on the critical cases.
Caroline Sherlock in Galway is CEO and co-founder of Pallaire, who along with some of Ireland's most successful medtech entrepreneurs, is making the operating room safer for surgery, including procedures using robots.
Indeed, Galway is well known as a disruptive medtech hub with fantastic companies including Neurent, Perfuze, Rockfield, Feeltect, Aurigen and Tympany. Many of these are alumni from the famed EI/NUIG Bioinnovate programme and also ably assisted with the key ecosystem players such as Curam, and the GMIT Met Centre.
There has been an acceleration in adopting medical technologies that help free up hospital resources and healthcare personnel time, all the while improving patient outcomes and reducing costs.
This is driven by connected or digital health products that facilitate community or home care, diagnosis and predictive analysis which are linked into their patients' GPs, consultants and care providers.
Companies like PatientMPower are providing solutions for patients with chronic lung disease and remotely monitor victims of Covid-19 for respiratory performance.
Likewise, Bluedrop Medical's internet of things enabled device can predict the formation of diabetic foot ulcers in the home and inform consultants of concerns.
A recent winner of Enterprise Ireland's Big Ideas "One to Watch" award was Galenband who has developed a revolutionary heart monitoring system capable of increasing detection rates of 'Silent Atrial Fibrillation'.
2020 will be recalled as an historic year.
The structural changes in how we live, how we work and how we travel will reverberate into the future.
That future will also be marked out by the remarkable progress in medical technology, some, but not all, of which has been driven by our battle against the pandemic.
Irish medtech firms are playing a leading role in developing solutions that will make all our lives better and that is something that gives us all hope for a better future.
Sunday Indo Business