IMDA lays out plans to make Ireland a ‘global medtech hub’

12 Feb 2016

The Irish Medical Devices Association (IMDA) has presented its four-year strategy, with the aim of establishing Ireland as a ‘global medtech hub’ by the end of the decade.

While there have good news stories in Irish medtech in recent weeks and months, with funding rounds and jobs being created, it appears the IMDA is not going to rest on its laurels.

At the launch of the strategy in the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI) last night (11 February), the IMDA spoke of the need to stay ahead of the crowd in order to stay competitive in a market that is expected to be worth €475bn by 2018.

Ireland’s credentials as a medtech hub have long been established given that, currently, the medtech sector employs 27,000 people in Ireland across 400 companies.

Need to stay ahead of the game

Ireland is also home to 18 of the top 25 global medtech companies, the strategy finds, with annual exports totalling more than €8.5bn to more than 100 countries around the world.

However, according to The Irish Times, the association’s director, Sinead Keogh, has warned that the existing medtech models being applied by Irish and Irish-based companies are already being left behind.

The key difference in the last few years, she said, citing the example of a smart diabetic syringe, is that what a medtech company is providing is now much more than just a product.

“Companies are used to selling a traditional device, but now the selling is changing because they’re selling a service, they’re selling data as well as technology,” she said.

IMDA profile

‘The age of the empowered patient’

In the strategy, Keogh made reference to this growth in the average consumer’s access to vast amounts of data analytics through the latest medical devices, which, she said, has changed the dynamic of medtech considerably.

“We are experiencing the age of the empowered patient, an age when users and patients will no longer be dictated to as they were in previous generations,” she wrote. “In order to respond to this shift, medtech businesses need a new set of ingredients to design their strategies to truly resonate in the marketplace.”

Ireland’s tax rates and funding options were also under the spotlight at the strategy’s launch, with Keogh stating that the organisation hopes that the incoming Government will do much more for start-ups and SMEs.

Given that 60pc of Irish medtech companies fall under this category, Keogh and the IMDA said the Government should follow models seen in the UK and US where an innovation fund is created for them that comes directly from the healthcare budget.

Lab image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic