Home-grown pharma and medtech strike near-billion-dollar deals

Cantillon: Indigenous firms Adapt, Chanelle and Novate show how to do business

Ireland’s industry superstars give cause for optimism.

Ireland’s industry superstars give cause for optimism.

 

Talk about pharma and medtech in Ireland and the presumption is always that the conversation relates to multinational giants, tax breaks and government incentives.

And, in general, that might be correct . . . but not always.

In the last fortnight, three indigenous Irish companies have put together deals that, between them, amount to almost $1 billion worth of business. Better still, two of them are based outside Dublin.

The $735 million sale of Séamus Mulligan’s Adapt Pharma is clearly the headline transaction but the track record of Mulligan and his associates means that, of the three, it is perhaps the least surprising.

The decision of Loughrea native Michael Burke to embark on yet another ambitious expansion programme at his company, Chanelle, at 71 is even more extraordinary. Burke has built his business to become an international giant in animal and human generics, turning over an expected €130 million, from humble roots as a country vet. And he’s done it without ever being tempted move from his homeplace.

And, as he opened the latest element of a €55 million investment programme this week, he announced plans for a new five-year €86 million plan aimed at growing the group’s US business. By 2023, he expects to employ 850 people in the town.

Blood clots

Another Galway business, Novate, has a very different story. Established by two industry veterans, the fledgling company was set up to develop a device to stop potentially fatal blood clots entering the lungs of patients after surgery.

It has taken Chas Taylor, Paul Gilson and their team 12 years to develop their product – a filter that stops clots and is biodegradable within the body, averting the need for further surgery. Their prize? A $20 million takeout by UK group BTG.

But that’s only the first instalment. Novate’s therapy, Sentry, has just been approved by US regulators and will start selling over the next six months. Depending on how it goes – and BTG clearly has high expectations – Novate’s investors could earn up to $150 million for their $22 million investment in the business.

For all the international titans of business, our ability to build industry superstars in Ireland is surely reassuring for the future of Ireland’s innovation economy.

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