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Future of Healthcare Q1 2022

Why Ireland is well placed to capitalise on advances in healthcare technology

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Jian Fan

Rachel Shelly

Head of Medical Technologies, IDA Ireland

As the medical devices sector evolves rapidly, Ireland’s medtech industry has all the necessary components to build on next-generation manufacturing, product development and digital innovation.

Ireland has a long tradition in medtech: 14 of the top 15 global companies have operations here. We are Europe’s largest medtech employer per capita and a magnet for skilled talent from within Ireland, the EU and beyond, working on cutting-edge technology, research and product development. Ireland’s wider life sciences ecosystem also includes strategic operations for nine of the top 10 biopharma companies.

A test bed for health advancements

This places Ireland at the centre of trends shaping the future of healthcare, such as the move to provide greater levels of care outside of acute hospital settings, as set out in the HSE’s digital transformation strategy agenda, ‘Stay Left, Shift Left’.

Ireland has the potential to become an exciting digital and connected health hub: a test-bed for innovating, developing, piloting and rapidly commercialising next-generation medical devices and related digital services.

LetsGetChecked recently gained ‘unicorn’ status with its USD 1 billion valuation.

Greater medtech collaboration

Capitalising on this opportunity will require even closer collaboration between three pillars in Ireland’s medtech ecosystem: domestic SMEs, academic research facilities and medtech multinationals – 75% of which already carry out R&D in Ireland.

Irish medtech start-ups have an excellent global reputation. LetsGetChecked recently gained ‘unicorn’ status with its USD 1 billion valuation. Others, like BlueBridge Technologies and S3 Connected Health, partner with global multinationals to enable connected devices and disease management solutions.

Our globally respected research centres focus on multiple areas within connected health disciplines – from materials and microelectronics to software and AI. The Insight Research Centre is recognised for its work in data analytics while Tyndall National Institute has research contracts with four of the world’s top 10 medtech companies to develop intelligent medical devices and systems.

The third element is the FDI base with its manufacturing, innovation and engineering excellence. For example, in Galway, Johnson & Johnson-owned Cerenovus develops advanced medical devices to treat strokes. It is investing a further €30 million in the site, which has a stroke simulation lab, prototype development and testing facilities and collaboration spaces. 3M’s new Digital Science Community is its first R&D centre committed to optimising its global technical, data security and privacy operations to solve challenges facing the global healthcare system.

Continued government support

Ireland’s size and infrastructure means that all three groups have easy access to each other. Furthermore, there is Government support in the form of R&D grants, the 25% R&D tax credit and the €500 million Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF), designed to drive collaboration across the ecosystem.

We have the means to connect and collaborate; now is our moment.

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