Global healthcare technology giant Medtronic plc, headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, is discussing with development agency IDA Ireland to expand the company’s presence in the country, citing the country’s strategic focus on research and manufacturing.

Medtronic recently established a €5 million five-year partnership with the University of Galway, reinforcing its position as Ireland’s MedTech hub and a gateway into the European Single Market.

This new investment is just part of Ireland’s MedTech portfolio, with 17 of the top 20 global MedTech companies based in Ireland, many with centres of excellence.

Investment surging

Sinead Keogh, director of MedTech & Engineering at Ibec, Ireland’s largest lobby and business representative group, said, “75% of the FDI community are engaged and are continuing to invest in R&D across the value chain.”

“The recent €5m investment by Medtronic in Galway is particularly welcomed. The investment in the [new] Institute of Clinical Trails and Advanced Therapeutics future demonstrates the commitment of large MNCs to support cutting edge research here in Ireland.”

Ireland’s MedTech and biopharma sectors now employ 100,000 people, with the government encouraging continuous upskilling across the value chain from manufacturing and supply chain to R&D.

As well as being home to nine of the world’s top 10 MedTech companies, Ireland is home to 10 of the world’s top 10 biopharma and technology companies.

With sales of €15.7 billion forecast in digital health alone by 2024 and strong growth projections year on year, MedTech is a magnetic sector to drive competitive advantage for Ireland.

Asked by Euractiv what makes Ireland attractive to companies like Medtronic, Keogh said: “Quite simply, Ireland’s unique ecosystem supports collaboration, connectivity and convergence in leveraging the necessary capabilities to develop and deliver innovations today and ensures the required resilience to adapt to whatever happens tomorrow.”

She added that Ireland is Europe’s largest employer of MedTech professionals per capita.

Ireland’s ‘can do’ attitude

“It’s Ireland’s ‘can do’ attitude and ability to collaborate [which] helps create solutions and solve problems. The last five years have seen Irish MedTech experience tremendous growth and develop even greater ambition.”

“Ireland is already recognised as a global MedTech hub, with 450 companies employing 48,000 people to deliver €13 billion in MedTech exports making an impact across the world.”

Maureen Timlin, vice president of Medical Technologies at IDA Ireland, told Euractiv:

“A pro-business environment, a geographical location that provides access to a 500m strong European Union customer base and delivering proximity to patients as well as the wide availability of expertise and skills, are just some of the reasons contributing to the success within the sector.”

The MedTech ecosystem

“Ireland has a very strong base of sub-suppliers,” said Timlin, “a very strong base of academic centres and research centres all supporting these companies, enabling them to expand and flourish in terms of mandate and product offerings.”

Ireland’s collaborative ecosystem is key, said Ibec’s Keogh, “What really sets Ireland apart from its competitors is the richness of its ecosystem, with 50% in the partnership space. Companies like BlueBridge Technologies and S3 Connected Health partner with global multinationals to enable connected devices and disease management solutions.”

“There has been a clear trend towards greater use of contract manufacturers by MedTech companies with nearly 80% looking to improve collaboration according to pre-Covid-19 research.”

“In parallel with increased technological innovation and more complex business models, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the demand for collaboration underscored by specialisation.”

Despite Ireland’s MedTech heritage, expanding Ireland’s MedTech sector will remain challenging in the face of fierce global competition.

Patently excellent…

IDA’s Timlin explained the sector’s adaptability: “There is a drive across MedTech towards providing wider tech-oriented solutions. The device is one aspect of that, but companies are now looking at technologies supporting the patient experience and providing better data about how the devices perform.”

“In this respect, Ireland offers a supportive ecosystem that has developed between tech companies across the country in areas such as AI, Machine Learning and data analytics.”

“The sector is arguably the most innovative in Europe,” said Keogh, “with more than 15,600 patent applications filed with the EPO in 2022, representing a 1.3% growth compared with the previous year.”

The Irish MedTech community has been a driver of this innovation, with patents granted to Irish companies almost doubling from 2017 to 2020, making it stand out as fifth in the world for MedTech patents per capita.

Despite a criticised allocation for health in Ireland’s recent budget, Keogh points to the increase in the R&D tax credit in Budget 2024 to 30%.

She welcomed the tax credit, saying it “will ensure that large MNEs retain the benefits of the credit as we moved to a new Global Minimum Tax and that SMEs will see improved benefit from the credit – The R&D Tax Credit is one of the most important incentives for the MedTech and life sciences community here in Ireland.”

[By Brian Maguire – Edited by Vasiliki Angouridi | Euractiv.com]

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