Monday 26 August 2019

Med in Ireland shows medtech innovation is in good health

Ireland has emerged as one of the world's top five medical technology hubs over the last 20 years. Stock photo
Ireland has emerged as one of the world's top five medical technology hubs over the last 20 years. Stock photo

Deirdre Glenn

"Ireland - a small country with a strong economy where collaboration and values matter," said Pierre Chauvineau, vice-president at Boston Scientific, speaking at the 12th annual Med in Ireland event last month. As many speakers noted at the key medical technologies event opened by Minister Pat Breen, the latest statistics show that the sector is in full health in Ireland.

Ireland has emerged as one of the world's top five medical technology hubs over the last 20 years. Thirteen of the top 15 global medtech companies have bases here, demonstrating that the country has become internationally recognised as a location of choice for the development and manufacture of high-tech medical products.

The sector has over 350 medical technology companies, of which 152 are indigenous and generate over €600m in sales and €400m in exports, employing over 6,500 people.

With significant growth year-on-year since 2012, Ireland is the second-largest exporter of high-tech medical products in the EU. The objective of Med in Ireland is to support further growth by enabling companies based in Ireland to build partnerships with the 300 buyers from 42 countries that attended this year. An impressive 1,000 company-buyer meetings and over 200 buyer-to-exhibitor site visits took place over three days.

A number of announcements illustrated the potential. Meditec Medical announced that it has successfully tendered for a contract with the international Boston Children's Hospital to manufacture and supply Mediflex pressure relief mattresses to its entire hospital.

Kastus, an Irish technology company, announced the launch of an antimicrobial solution which can be used on devices, door handles and sanitary fittings in hospitals and pharmaceutical manufacture to prevent the spread of micro-organisms such as MRSA and E. Coli.

Seabrook Technology Group, the Irish-owned manufacturing software specialist, announced a partnership with Toolroom Technology to provide an end-to-end offering for orthopaedic manufacturers, which is expected to generate €3m in revenue over the next two years.

Ireland's medtech advantage is supported by investments in research, development and innovation. Some 60pc of medtech companies in Ireland are engaged in R&D and in 2015 companies spent over €205m on such activities. Enterprise Ireland is introducing a range of innovation supports to aid the development of medical technologies, help clients to win more research funding through the EU's €80bn Horizon 2020 fund, and encourage knowledge and intellectual property-sharing.

Technology Gateways leverage industry-focused expertise in Institutions of Technologies across the regions. Health Innovation Hub Ireland partners clinicians, academics, and entrepreneurs that work together to accelerate commercialisation. BioInnovate Ireland is a technology training programme in which academia, clinicians and industry collaborate to develop novel medical technologies.

Shortly before Med in Ireland, Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald announced the launch of another such initiative, the BioExcel Medtech Accelerator Programme at NUI Galway, to support our pipeline of innovative startups.

The announcements at this year's Med in Ireland demonstrate the potential of these initiatives. Ireland's innovation advantage is driving global market penetration for exporters and supporting partnerships with institutions, including Northwell Healthcare.

Med in Ireland showcased companies that are taking advantage of these opportunities, building partnerships that secure business wins on a global scale. Medtech companies in Ireland are not only growing sales in traditional export markets but diversifying into new, higher-growth markets. Notwithstanding our medtech competitiveness, firms face uncertainty generated by Brexit.

To support them, we must continually innovate and showcase Irish innovation across the world.

Deirdre Glenn is manager of Lifesciences Sector at Enterprise Ireland

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