What is driving success in corporate Ireland?

Cantillon: Ireland is a player at the cutting edge in medtech and pharmaceutical R&D

With Brexit centre stage, there is a temptation for all attention in Ireland to focus on two topics: how much the move might damage our economy; and what opportunity it presents in terms of attracting foreign direct investment currently based in the UK but looking at options.

That narrow vision runs the risk of missing much of what is driving success in corporate Ireland, as two examples in the past week illustrate.

On Monday, Galway medtech start-up Neuravi was snapped up by Johnson & Johnson, one of the dominant players in the life sciences sector.

The prize? A device developed in-house that retrieves clots from patients’ arteries preventing or managing stroke. Launched in 2015, it has already secured about 30 per cent of the European market.

Johnson & Johnson will be looking for similar success in the US where the company is currently conducting a critical clinical trial of its device. That’s a sizeable slice of a market estimated at somewhere between $3 billion (€2.89 billion) and $5 billion, and rising.

European exit

There’s no price on the deal but it is known to be the biggest European exit by venture capital in the medtech sector since Medtronic snapped up Corevalve in 2009. That was a $700 million transaction which values Neuravi comfortably in the hundreds of millions bracket.

It's not bad for a company that has got this far on the strength of cumulative funding of just over €25 million and it means a rewarding payout for Fountain Healthcare Partners, Delta Partners and Life Sciences Partners, which between them led two funding rounds for the business, as well as management and smaller investors such as Enterprise Ireland.

And the Neuravi deal comes just a week after Dublin-headquartered Sigmoid Pharma agreed a licensing deal with German group Dr Falk Pharma for its late stage ulcerative colitis drug that is reported in industry circles to be worth more than €100 million.

As important as their financial value, such deals validate the work of the companies involved and enhance Ireland’s reputation as a player at the cutting edge in both medtech and pharmaceutical R&D. That’s worth talking about.