Polaris Partners eyes investments in Irish digital health start-ups

Irish-American co-founder Terry McGuire says Ireland has “ingredients” to become hub for life science and medical technology companies

Terry McGuire said 
now
Polaris wanted to invest in Irish health-tech companies and he had come to the HealthXL global gathering in Dublin this week to look at new opportunities. Photograph:Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Terry McGuire said now Polaris wanted to invest in Irish health-tech companies and he had come to the HealthXL global gathering in Dublin this week to look at new opportunities. Photograph:Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Fri, May 30, 2014, 01:06

The Irish-American co-founder of Polaris Partners, a $3.5 billion (€2.6 billion) healthcare and technology venture capital fund, has said the firm hopes to invest more in Ireland and was interested in investing in digital health start-ups.

Terry McGuire, who has previously invested in firms with a combined value of $40 billion, said Polaris has invested in Boxever, a cloud platform for travel retailers, Log Entries, a cloud log management company, as well as supporting Dogpatch Labs, a start-up incubator in Dublin.

Among the international companies Mr McGuire has invested in are Akami Technologies, which has a market capitalisation of $9.7 billion, and Cubist Pharmaceuticals, worth more than $5 billion.

Health-tech

Mr McGuire said Polaris wanted to invest in Irish health-tech companies and he had come to the HealthXL global gathering in Dublin, an event founded by Martin Kelly, this week to look at new opportunities. “We have not yet made our first investment [in health-tech in Ireland],” Mr McGuire said. “We have looked at some, and there was some we should have, but we would like to.”

He said Ireland had the “ingredients” to become a hub for life science and medical technology companies.

“If I look at digital health in Ireland, you have med-tech companies, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical companies, yet Ireland is a small place like Cambridge Massachusetts. You could be the same,” he said. “The lesson from the US is that you need everything in proximity for a community to develop and Ireland has that. I think it also has the will to do it.”

Mr McGuire said he believed the Irish med-tech start-up scene could become as big as other areas where its start-ups were taking off. “Ireland is the perfect place to go,” he said. “The government here is doing what needs to be done.”

He said Polaris had recently invested in a company in Austria. “We are very pleased to have done that, but in general there is a greater wealth of opportunity in Ireland. You don’t have to be huge to be good, it is better to be geographically concentrated.”

Mr McGuire said Polaris was trying to encourage its American investment portfolio to consider Ireland as its beach-head into Europe.

“There are some companies here already,” he said. “Confluence, a Pittsburgh based company, has operations here. Some of our med-tech companies are looking at Galway. They are not quite there yet, but given the strength of talent in Ireland, this is a natural place for us.”

He said Dogpatch was now bringing in European companies to Ireland. Dogpatch has appointed Noel Ruane, a former executive in IDA Ireland, as venture partner to run its Dublin operations. “With Dogpatch. . . There will always be doubters, but we want entrepreneurs who believe they can take on the world.”