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Beyond manufacturing, Irish medtech targets high value innovation, connected healthcare and AI


David Tallon

Irish Medtech Association Chairman and Stryker Neuro, Spine, ENT & Navigation VP R&D

The Irish Medtech Association are building on Ireland’s reputation for manufacturing excellence and targeting opportunities for growth with a move to stimulate companies to increase their R&D investments and step up the intensity and ambition of their R&D activities.

In the past 25 years the medtech sector has gone from a burgeoning industry to a global powerhouse. The number of companies has increased from 50 to 450+, and exports have quadrupled to €12.6 billion.

This growth has really sped up in the past couple of years, with more than €259 million in investments publicly announced, 2,070 jobs being added to 38,000 professionals already in the sector and Irish start-ups gaining international attention with €102.55 million in financing raised.

Ireland is the gateway to Europe’s €110bn market

As we look to the future, the medtech sector here is well placed to build on this momentum. Nine of the world’s top 10 medtech companies already have one or more sites here, choosing Ireland as the strategic location for access to the world’s second largest medtech market – Europe – which is worth €110 billion.

Ireland is already a world leader in manufacturing. We boast more Shingo Prizes per capita than any other country. This is thanks to the depth and breadth of the collaborative medtech community here, which includes FDI multinationals, start-ups, contract manufacturers, designers, as well as third-level institutions and research centres.

Making Ireland a location of choice for R&D

Now, we need to mobilise this community to increase the R&D ambition and the intensity of the Irish medtech sector so we can tap into this strategic area for global growth.

The FDI manufacturing sector here already spends an estimated €771 million on R&D annually. That’s not including the spend by start-ups or funding awarded by Horizon 2020, the biggest EU Research and Innovation funding programme.

More needs to be done to help companies increase the level of sophistication and complexity of their R&D activities here and expand their mandate to include R&D ownership for complete market segments and global product portfolios.

Global medtech R&D spend growth has risen from 3% in 2012 to 4.8% this year. By 2024, global medtech R&D spend is projected to reach $39 billion.

Innovation revolutionising healthcare

The world of medtech is being revolutionised with thousands of surgical robots now being used across the world’s hospitals and 54% of global healthcare executives predicting that AI will increasingly be used to support medical decisions.

To tap into this growth potential, the Irish Medtech Association is leading a major project to make Ireland a location of choice for R&D. That why the theme for our annual CEO Conference Medtech Rising 2018, co-hosted with Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland, will focus on the theme of innovation.

This is not only an exciting time for medtech, but an exciting time for Ireland. We need to nurture a culture of innovation with diversity of thinking and encourage government to invest in the right infrastructure to realise our potential.

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