The next wave of technology opportunities that will yield ample returns will be in the area of wellness and healthcare, with the intention of keeping people out of hospitals, PCH International’s Liam Casey told Siliconrepublic.com.
Speaking at the Dublin Web Summit, Casey said one of the acute problems in the world right now is the ageing population and the resultant pressure on hospital systems across the world.
Casey said PCH is at the heart of major trends, such as the maker revolution, whereby inventors are being empowered by shifts in crowdfunding and 3D printing.
“At the moment, we are seeing disruption every day, there are huge opportunities, ranging from disruptions in 3D printing, empowering the maker revolution.
“The bigger tech companies are looking at how to bring products to market faster and this actually runs very well with what we are doing. When you look at our PCH accelerator and (start-up programme) Highway 1, it is very complementary to that change in industry.”
Founded in 1996, Casey has built up his company, PCH International, to be one of the most crucial supply chain and delivery providers for some of the major global tech brands. For example, it is the only non-Taiwanese final assembly company to be listed on Apple’s global supplier list.
Working across the entire technology spectrum, the company completes the design and delivery of products, from Beats’ Dr Dre headphones to cutting-edge smartphones arising out of emerging Chinese phone maker Xiaomi.
PCH International, which employs 80 people in Cork, revealed earlier this year plans to employ an extra 1,500 people at a facility in Shenzhen, China, in a move that will grow the number of staff to 3,000 worldwide.
Turnover at PCH International has soared from US$150m in 2009 to US$710m in 2011 and Casey has been busy establishing engineering and product facilities in San Francisco, California, that will forge a link between innovators in Silicon Valley and manufacturers in Asia.
Last week, Cork’s Tyndall National Institute signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with PCH International aimed at fast-scaling tech companies in Ireland to global status. The agreement is part of Tyndall’s new five-year strategy to generate more than 500 new jobs in both start-ups and established firms.
The MoU provides for collaboration between PCH’s two programmes for start-ups, Highway1 and PCH Accelerator, and Tyndall’s international network of more than 200 industry clients, to identify market opportunities.
The wellness economy
Casey said Ireland needs to capitalise on the abundance of engineering and technical talent in the country.
“What we’ve got here is fantastic talent and experience and when you look at facilities like Tyndall, with researchers doing phenomenal work, there is the opportunity to get to create a platform all the way through to consumer and product. That is what is really exciting for us at the moment. Ireland is as good a place as anywhere else, that’s what’s really exciting.”
Focusing on the opportunities in wellness and healthcare, Casey said the current generation of fitness devices, like Nike’s Fuelband or products like FitBit, will play a role in keeping people out of hospitals and relieving pressure on crumbling health systems the world over.
“That’s where I believe the technology will come into its own.
“Insurance companies and clinical companies are all interested in this area. While it’s disruptive, it’s for the better,” Casey said.