Ireland was once a poor country. Agriculture was its main output and Guinness its ambassador to the world. Things have drastically changed in the last couple of decades, so much so that Ireland is now the fastest growing economy in Europe and one of the hottest places for medical technology companies to do business.
A focus on education, a favorable tax environment, hard working people, and a culture that prizes success have turned the Irish from sheep herders to technology innovators. Of course Ireland still does quite a bit of farming and beer brewing, but it also does electronics manufacturing, technology consulting, and as anyone in the medtech industry knows, it is now one of the world’s main hubs of designing and building advanced medical devices. As far as numbers go, Ireland hosts 250 medical technology companies, including 13 of the 15 world’s largest. They employ more than 38,000 people, making it Europe’s highest per/capita concentration, and in 2015 the sector spent over €205 million ($240 million ) on research and development in Ireland.
On the invitation and dime of Enterprise Ireland, a government organization responsible for the growth of Irish business abroad, Medgadget visited Med in Ireland, an event held at the Royal Dublin Society. This is an annual event that brings together medical companies and institutions from around the world to network, partner, and explore business possibilities with Irish firms innovating and offering services in the medtech sector.
Though only a day long, Med in Ireland is designed to get different people to have quick, to-the-point meetings that lead to purchases, partnerships, and business deals. The event started off with introductory remarks by a few noted speakers, including Pat Breen, Minister of State for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, followed by a short on-stage discussion, all taking up about an hour. The Clinical Innovation Award 2018, a partnership between Enterprise Ireland and Cleveland Clinic, which aims to help clinicians turn their ideas into healthcare solutions, was also announced.
Following, everyone was invited to visit the dozens booths of companies that design, build, and consult for other medtech firms, check out the “Innovation Showcase” profiling interesting Irish companies, and most importantly participate in more than 1,000 one-to-one meetings held in an old horse stable that is part of the Royal Dublin Society.
In the days following the meetings, many of the attendees visit the headquarters and manufacturing sites of the companies they are trying to establish ties with. They get facility tours, meet with engineers and executives, and if everything goes well, put signatures on paper.
Being only a day long allows for follow up on-site visits by investors, manufacturing leads, and others that are considering investing and working with Irish companies. In our experience, this is a unique structure for an event of this type, and we were surprised by the amount of activity that was taking place during Med in Ireland and in the days that followed.
We took a trip to Galway to visit BioInnovate Ireland, an academic program that trains established professionals to identify current clinical limitations and to invent for them commercially feasible solutions, which we’ll be covering in the coming days. Driving west across the country from Dublin gives the impression of a vastness punctuated by small villages and towns. Rock walls enclosing herds of sheep and cows are seemingly everywhere, but within this landscape one may stumble upon a medical device firm, as they have spread across the country to take advantage of an educated populace that’s willing to work hard, innovate, and succeed.
As an example, on our trip to Galway, we saw a medical device manufacturing firm tucked between ancient rock walls and only steps from the rugged Irish western coast. A bed and breakfast and two dozen sheep would be expected in a place like that, but this firm was thriving exactly where it was. Of course there are industry parks as well, with names like Boston Scientific, Stryker, and Medtronic, which is now headquartered in Ireland, having engineering and manufacturing facilities that we passed by.
We met with a few of the firms at Med in Ireland that have developed unique and novel medical products, and as noted above, visited Bioinnovate Ireland. In the coming days we’ll be introducing you to some of these firms and to the exciting approach to medical problem solving being done at BioInnovate Ireland.
In the meantime, here’s a cute promo video from Enterprise Ireland summing up the advantages of doing business in Ireland:
Link: Enterprise Ireland…
Please note: Enterprise Ireland, an organization of the Irish government promoting business in the country, sponsored the travel and accommodations for this report.