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MedTech is a huge opportunity for Ireland 2018

With more than 500,000 medical technologies in existence, the term MedTech covers a wide range of ‘devices.’ Medical Technology (MedTech) can be any technology used to treat an individual’s medical pain or suffering. It covers everything from plasters and syringes to MRI scanners and artificial knee and hip replacements. As an industry, MedTech’s scope is massive, it will not only add value to an economy, but also to society. The main goal of all MedTech is to improve and extend people’s lives. 

FDI Investment

Foreign direct investment (FDI) multinationals are the backbone of Ireland’s MedTech industry. In the past ten years, there has been an increase of 33% in employment within the Irish MedTech sector. This success is due in part to Ireland’s pro-business environment, highly skilled workforce, its corporate tax rate of 12.5%, and the country’s access to the EU market.

“Ireland’s MedTech sector has been successful for all the reasons the country has been successful across many sectors,” - Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland.

“In addition to this, Ireland has an extremely strong proposition in high-value, zero defect manufacturing of highly sophisticated products – a story which has developed over the years… The convergence that is happening between information and communications technology, medical devices and pharmaceuticals is also underpinning Ireland’s proposition in MedTech as the country has specialisms in these areas.” - Martin Shanahan, CEO of IDA Ireland.

When commenting on companies based here for many years such as; Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific, Abbott, and Baxter International, Mr Shanahan said, “The presence of these global leaders in itself creates a strong sector, but it is supplemented on the indigenous side by good companies which have grown up through the sub-supply route… Ireland is home to a closely knit cluster of 450 MedTech companies, supported by industry, academic, clinical and government agencies. This integrated and progressive community has already encouraged an increasing number of companies to expand operations across multiple facilities.”

Once the MedTech multinationals had established themselves in Ireland, indigenous Irish companies began to join the sector via the sub-supply route.

At a recent business event held in Limerick Mr Bill Doherty, the executive vice-president of Limerick-based MedTech firm Cook Medical, outlined the economic impact of MedTech, especially in Ireland’s mid-west. He described Limerick and the mid-west as a thriving hub of innovation for companies involved in MedTech. 

Mr Doherty highlights the fact the mid-west region of Ireland is home to 43 of Ireland’s top MedTech companies. “Through continuous dialogue with Government, the relevant authorities, educators, local businesses and our industry peers in the mid-west, we hope to encourage and sustain a strong pipeline of investment into the region.” - Bill Doherty, the executive vice-president of Limerick-based MedTech firm Cook Medical.

Academia meets Industry - BioInnovate

Based on a programme in Stanford University, California, called Stanford Biodesign, Ireland’s BioInnovate is a medical technology innovation programme based in the National University of Ireland (NUI), Galway. It focuses on developing the next generation of MedTech entrepreneurs. The programme represents an enormous opportunity for engineers, doctors and business people looking to make an impact in the MedTech sector.

The BioInnovate programme educates fellows to look for problems in medicine and then find the best solutions, according to programme director Mark Bruzzi, Professor of Biomedical Engineering at NUI Galway.

“We recruit people from various different backgrounds – engineering, medicine, business and science – and we put them together in teams, then we prepare them to focus initially on clinical needs rather than invention… They also get to meet investors, CEOs and entrepreneurs and clinical professionals who can enable them to understand the landscape for MedTech innovation.” - BioInnovate programme director Mark Bruzzi.

The fact that the members of each team taking part in the programme have different backgrounds is of importance to the success of the programme, according to Ian Quinn, founder of Irish MedTech company Creganna, and a former chair of BioInnovate Ireland’s advisory committee.

The Future for MedTech

When we look at Ireland’s successful pharmaceutical and life sciences industries, and couple this with the cooperation between academia and industry, the future of the MedTech industry looks very promising. James Winters (VP manufacturing, Depuy Synthes) and Chairman of the Irish MedTech Association, believes that Ireland is in an excellent position to set itself up as a world leader in MedTech. “With 10 of the top 10 ICT companies, 9 of the top 10 Biopharma companies and 18 of the top 25 major MedTech players, we’re uniquely positioned to become a leader in both connected health and drug delivery systems.”

Interesting facts about MedTech
  • The medical technology (MedTech) sector in Ireland is recognised as one of the five global emerging hubs. 
  • The sector employs over 38,000 people in Ireland. 
  • Ireland is one of the largest exporters of medical products in Europe with annual exports of €12.6 billion and companies here directly export to over 100 countries worldwide. 
  • 9 of the world’s top 10 medical technology companies have a base in Ireland.
  • 60% of the 450 MedTech companies based here are indigenous. 
  • MedTech generates approximately 10% of overall Irish exports.
  • MedTech is estimated to be worth €12.6bn a year to the Irish economy.

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