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

David Tallon, Irish medtech cestor, irish medtech association

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. In fact, they’re targeting opportunities for growth with a move to stimulate companies to increase their R&D investments. Similarly, this is all to 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. We can now see 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. There have been more than €259 million in investments publicly announced. Similarly, 38,000 professionals already in the sector now have access to 2,070 jobs. Also Irish start-ups are gaining international attention with €102.55 million in financing raised.

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

Similarly, 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. They’re choosing Ireland as the strategic location for access to the world’s second largest medtech market. The European market 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. This includes FDI multinationals, start-ups, contract manufacturers, designers. Similarly 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. This will increase the intensity of the Irish medtech sector in turn. Using these advantages, 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. Nor does it include 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. This allows expansion on 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. Global medtech R&D spend will reach $39 billion by 2040.

Medtech sector innovation revolutionising healthcare

Revolution is happening in the medtech sector. Improvements include thousands of surgical robots now being used across the world’s hospitals. Medical decisions will be increasingly supported by AI. In fact 54% of global healthcare executives agree.

To tap into this growth potential, the Irish Medtech Association is leading a major project. This project is to make Ireland a location of choice for R&D. That is why the theme for our annual CEO Conference Medtech Rising 2018 focused on the theme of innovation. Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland also co-host this medtech sector conference.

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

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