Tuesday 16 July 2019

Health giant Northwell in talks with 20 Irish startups

The US healthcare network aims to grow relationships beyond health sector writes Fearghal O'Connor

Northwell CEO Michael Dowling
Northwell CEO Michael Dowling

Fearghal O'Connor

US healthcare giant Northwell Health is in discussions with more than 20 Irish medtech startup companies about potential partnerships and sales agreements.

Northwell is now also looking to strike relationships with non-health-related startups across its network, its chief commercialisation officer told the Sunday Independent.

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Northwell, whose CEO is Limerick-born Michael Dowling, has a network of almost 70,000 employees across 23 hospitals and over 700 outpatient locations. It is growing relationships with a range of Irish companies under a strategic alliance it signed with Enterprise Ireland in 2016 as a way to give Irish companies immediate early-stage access to the US market.

Northwell executive director and chief commercialisation officer, Elaine Brennan, has met with over 120 Irish startups as part of the relationship.

"We are actively engaged with 20 companies," said Brennan. "Medtech in Ireland is highly innovative and we love to get early access to these solutions."

The startup companies - all Enterprise Ireland clients - are developing a range of innovative products across the wider health space.

Northwell has had discussions with Irish companies with products covering A&E, intensive care, oncology, eHealth platforms for patient and clinician engagement, urology, clinical trials for novel therapeutic drugs, post-surgery quality of life products and patient safety.

Northwell Health also has in-house pharmacies for use by patients and its employees which is understood to be another potential route to market for Irish companies.

"The value to Enterprise Ireland companies of collaboration with Northwell is that we are multi-disciplinary, across the board in terms of US healthcare," said Brennan.

"We treat about one per cent of the US population. That means we also have the largest real estate footprint in the sector and we are one of the biggest consumers of food. So the next step for me is to broaden the scope of access for Enterprise Ireland clients outside of just healthcare."

Brennan cited Northwell's partnership with one Irish company called Salaso, which has developed innovative care for stroke patients.

"It is difficult to put a number on what this could be worth to a company such as Salaso, but once you get into the pharmaceutical market with a technology it will be adapted very quickly. It's not there yet, but down the road I do believe a company like that could be worth millions."

Brennan created an arm of Northwell known as Pharma Ventures as a way for the healthcare organisation to engage with innovative companies.

"Traditionally pharma companies and medical device companies are the big giants with the deep pockets, while healthcare systems themselves typically don't work that well with them and there is no enterprise interaction.

"My idea was to create a synergistic platform to allow Northwell engage in this area. We have now created a doorway for these companies to come into our healthcare system."

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