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Strong present, bright future: Why Ireland’s start-up scene is full of promise

Strong present, bright future: Why Ireland’s start-up scene is full of promise

Ian Bolland takes a look at a recent example of start-up interest which shows why Ireland’s medtech reputation goes from strength to strength.

Just looking at the names of the companies that operate in Ireland, it doesn’t take you long to recognise that medtech is a significant part of Ireland’s economy, and an attractive place to do business.

With nine out of the world’s top 10 medtech companies based in Ireland, it’s safe to say it’s one of the world centres for the industry, and an essential sector for the country’s economy.

Interest in medtech has increased dramatically during the course of COVID-19 – much of the focus has been dedicated to those who have provided parts for ventilators, personal protective equipment, testing, as well as pharmaceutical companies playing their part in a search for a vaccine.

Medtronic, with its base in Dublin, was at the forefront of the global response to ventilator shortage as it shared its specifications for the PB 560 ventilator to enable multi-industry participants to rapidly manufacture devices to aid the front line. They received over 100,000 registrations for the specification – including from large scale manufacturers in Canada, Vietnam and Taiwan.

Boston Scientific, BD, Baxter and DePuy are also among those located in the country, while in this issue, Jacqui O’Connor from MedScan3D describes Galway as “the medtech centre for cardiology devices” given the vast amount of companies operating in the field.

There is good reason that upwards of 200 companies operate in Ireland. Being able to act as the bridge that can serve and facilitate both the U.S and European market also helps its cause, along with its reputation for innovation, research and manufacturing – helping it become the second largest exporter of medical products in Europe.

Away from the more household names in the sector, its start-up scene appears to be in rude health, and has also played its role in combatting the pandemic facing the world.  

In June EIT Health announced that 10 of the 89 start-ups to receive €40,000 worth of backing for its Headstart programme were from across Ireland. By comparison, six UK firms had received the same backing.

Though cliched, it’s an example of how the country punches above its weight given its population, but the reputation the sector has developed in Ireland over the years means this should not surprise anyone with knowledge of life sciences.

The range of solutions on offer from the 10 companies also speaks volumes considering the pressing needs of the Coronavirus pandemic while addressing other needs.

These include reproduction, diagnostics for sepsis, the use of nanotechnology to help with surgical procedures along with those that a more at home with general public like AI solutions and wearables, showing that innovation doesn’t exist in one specialist area in the country, but across the entire medtech spectrum.

Little wonder that, per capita, it’s among the largest employers of medtech professionals in Europe. From a competitive standpoint, Ireland is going to take some beating.  

Med-Tech Innovation

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