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Life Science Innovation 2021

Making Ireland a global hub for digital health

iStock / Getty Images Plus / gorodenkoff

Sinead Keogh

Ibec Medtech and Engineering Director, Irish Medtech Association

Ireland’s global medtech hub to leverage manufacturing success to become a global leader in R&D and innovation.

Medical technologies are used for diagnosis, prevention, treatment, monitoring or alleviation of disease. The Irish Medtech Association is the group which represents the sector in Ireland and our vision is for Ireland to be a global leader in innovative patient-centred medical technology developments, products and solutions.

Ireland already stands out as one of the top five global medtech hubs, with 450 companies including nine of the world’s top 10 medtech companies. The Irish medtech industry’s role in saving and improving lives across the world has been emphasised by the COVID-19 pandemic with the OECD identifying Ireland as one of the top five producers of COVID related products.

Before the pandemic, R&D spending in 2019 grew 11.5% marking a return to the double-digit growth for the first time since the 2008 financial crisis.

Hub for innovation

Ireland performs above the EU average as a ‘strong innovator’ according to the European Innovation Scoreboard. The medtech industry in Ireland has the ambition to leverage its success as a global medtech hub in order to grow the level of R&D in Ireland.

To support this, the Irish Medtech Association developed a guidebook ‘Realise your R&D ambition’, with the Irish Medtech Skillnet, to help companies on their innovation journey in seven steps. Our research revealed that in the last five years R&D activity has increased for over 73% of medtech companies, and more than 74% of companies expect their R&D activities to increase over the next three years.

Futureproofing with digital health

One of the strategic areas we have identified to future-proof the medtech innovation pipeline is digital health. To drive this Ibec has brought together the Irish Medtech Association, Technology Ireland and BioPharmaChem Ireland for a special cross-sectoral campaign, ‘Where Digital Health Thrives’.

The aim is to enable Ireland to become a recognised global hub for digital health, where companies can develop and commercialise products, as well as attract projects and investments. More than 200 companies have been identified and we conducted in-depth case studies, from companies developing innovative digital health solutions such as S3 Connected Health, BlueBridge Technologies, FIRE1, HealthBeacon, Abbott, Novartis, Boston Scientific, IBM and Odyssey VC.

As we work to increase the volume and sophistication of R&D led from Ireland for the global market, we will continue to work with businesses to offer industry foresight, share best practice, and advocate for policies to help companies achieve they potential by lobbying policymakers.

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