Medtech – A thriving industry based on innovation
Med in Ireland event a key opportunity for Irish firms in the medical technologies sector
Deirdre Glenn of Enterprise Ireland: “The indigenous medtech sector is a really good news story for Ireland.” Photograph: Colm Mahady/Fennell Photography
Ireland’s largest medical technologies event takes place today in the RDS in Dublin.
Organised by Enterprise Ireland, the biennial Med In Ireland event will see more than 1,000 face-to-face meetings take place between representatives of over 250 international organisations and more than 70 Irish companies.
The companies serve the medtech sector through medical device manufacture, sub-supply, precision engineered components, diagnostics, connected health technology, and research and development services.
Many of the international visitors have been here for the past two days on a series of site visits to view the capability of Irish medtech companies at first-hand, according to Deirdre Glenn, life sciences sector manager with Enterprise Ireland.
“Medtech is a big success story for Ireland and the Med In Ireland event is a key opportunity to showcase that to the world”, she says.
“Ireland is recognised as a major centre of excellence for the sector. We have one of world’s leading clusters with a very good value proposition, fantastic skills, technological capability, and a reputation for operational excellence.”
“There are 38,000 people employed in the sector, mainly in multinational firms. Enterprise Ireland supports 250 client companies employing 6,500 people in the indigenous sector. The indigenous industry is growing by about 4 per cent to 5 per cent growth annually.
“The sector as a whole is growing at a rate of 5 per cent to 10 per cent. It is estimated that the global market will be worth €470 billion in 2020. It’s a massively important industry for Ireland.”
The breadth of the Irish industry is as impressive as its scale.
“Most people think of medtech as the stuff they see in their GP’s surgery or in a hospital”, Glenn notes.
“But it’s everything from diagnostic kits to treatment to monitoring to digital health. In Ireland, we also have a really good cohort of medtech sub-supply companies. This has been built up around the multinational community. These sub-supply companies were originally in commodity-type supply arrangements but they have been really good at becoming preferred design partners to multinational customers. The global industry is outsourcing innovation to partners and Irish companies are providing that innovation.”
Innovation is the key differentiator for many Irish firms.
“That is how Irish sub-supply companies have become preferred partners in the supply chain,” adds Glenn.
“The whole purpose of Med In Ireland is it to showcase the excellence of the Irish industry to an international audience of buyers. The Irish companies will include finished device manufacturers selling into health care systems and sub-suppliers trying to sell into the multinational community. The audience represents the complete spectrum of healthcare professionals, providers and systems, clinicians and multinationals.”
The overall objective is to position Ireland as location of choice for the medtech industry.
“This country is a centre of excellence for medtech if you want something designed, developed or manufactured. Ireland can offer a full end-to-end supply chain to the global healthcare sector. The Irish industry is built on innovation. Irish companies continue to gain traction as a result of their focus on innovation. Medtech companies that don’t innovate won’t survive.
“This applies to business models, technology, service offering and so on. They are operating in a highly competitive but lucrative global market and they have to be innovating in some way to succeed. Part of our job at Enterprise Ireland is to help them do that in-house or connect into third level institutions.”
That support for innovation is a new feature of the event this year.
“The MedTech Innovation Showcase will allow visitors to find out about the wide-ranging support system that drives the success of Irish companies, from funding to collaboration with the research community,” says Glenn.
“We talked to our overseas offices about this and they said we needed to showcase the innovation supports from Enterprise Ireland and the Government.”
The aim of the Innovation Showcase is to give visitors an opportunity to interact with the various support providers and to attend afternoon talks given by representatives of the different agencies involved. Those agencies will also display the range of supports, both financial and advisory, available to support collaboration between the industry and the research community.
“The indigenous medtech sector is a really good news story for Ireland”, says Glenn.
“The buyers attending Med In Ireland include hospitals, health services, clinicians and multinational companies. Irish companies now have the track record and the ability to show that they can add value and provide the innovative products and services that will solve the challenges faced by their customers.”