Major medical devices maker invests €900,000 in R&D

11 Oct 2010

A US$10bn supplier of healthcare products is to invest €900,000 with the National University of Ireland in two major R&D projects that will influence the future of surgery and wound healing.

Healthcare supply company Covidien has announced the €900,000 investment in medical technologies research and development projects with NUI Galway over the next two years, which is the first phase of a multi-part investment of €1.8m with Irish academic institutions announced by Covidien last July.

Covidien employs 2,000 people in Ireland and recently opened a 200-job European Services Centre in Cherrywood, Dublin. Some €11m has been invested in the state-of-the-art operation.

Covidien’s chief technology officer Paul Hermes told Siliconrepublic that innovation is at the heart of the company’s efforts and that it holds more than 10,000 patents with a further 8,000 patents pending. “We have found Ireland to be the ideal environment for medical devices and healthcare research. From what we can tell, Ireland boasts the highest per capita presence of medical devices industries anywhere in the world.”

He said the company was focused on discovering “disruptive” technologies that will change the shape of healthcare for ever and that the company invests US$400m per annum in R&D.

Investment to aid patient health and safety

Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney TD described the investment as enabling the further development of patient health and safety through innovation and maintains it will yield high quality researchers.

“University-based facilities enabled by this collaboration with Covidien will help to ensure that Ireland continues to produce high-quality researchers who can innovate new technologies and design robust scientific research. This ultimately produces the valuable data that furthers patient health and safety,” she said.

Covidien hopes to incentivise students to choose science as a career and promote the continued growth and prosperity of the medical devices sector in Ireland. 

“We believe the medical devices and health sectors will be a thriving part of Ireland’s business growth and high-technology job creation in the future,” said Scott Flora, president, surgical devices, Covidien.

Barry O’Leary, CEO, IDA Ireland, added: “Ireland is recognised as a key global hub for medical technologies, employing the highest medical technologies personnel per capita in Europe. Nearly 60pc of the sector’s companies are now carrying out R&D functions here … industry and academia in Ireland can assist global companies such as Covidien to meet their R&D needs.”

NUI Galway’s work

NUI Galway has investigated in situ forming biomaterial delivery systems that can be coupled with biologic factors. These materials may be delivered to soft tissue defects and can deploy growth factors and/or other biologics of interest to promote wound healing and tissue regeneration. The aim of the first project is to develop, characterise, and optimise the use of material systems containing microspheres for growth factor delivery and to develop assays to test the efficacy of these systems in promoting local wound healing. 

NUI Galway also has significant experience with developing models to test the efficacy of novel compounds and medical devices.  Covidien is interested in the design of specific, anatomically relevant models for products under development which can then be used for proof of concept, and generation of efficacy and regulatory data. The aim of the second project is to model conditions created during surgery and understand how product concepts perform under these conditions.

Shane Hulgraine and John Kennedy