New €25m R&D fund for Irish researchers

16 Nov 2011

José Almeida, president and CEO, Covidien; Richard Bruton, TD, Ireland's Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation; and Gus Jones, head of Medical Technologies, IDA Ireland, in Dublin City this morning

New jobs are on the way for Ireland in the medical-tech space. The CEO of Covidien José E Almeida said this morning that Ireland’s record of fostering successful innovation was key to the decision to locate six new R&D projects in the country, with Ireland poised to become a global med-tech hub.

Covidien, a global provider of healthcare products, and the Irish Government, via IDA Ireland, are jointly supporting the projects, which represent an investment of more than €25m and will create an as-of-yet undetermined number of research positions in Ireland. The R&D projects will work in partnership with the Covidien’s Galway and Athlone facilities.

Covidien has 30 years of manufacturing history in Ireland, with production facilities in Athlone, Tullamore, Galway and Damastown, Dublin. Additionally, Ireland is home to Covidien’s principal executive office, which is based in Dublin City.

Speaking this morning in Dublin, Almeida said Ireland’s well-established record of fostering successful innovation was key to the investment decision.

“These advanced research and development projects represent a significant future pipeline of innovative products for Covidien. They also may produce important data to further patient health and safety.”

Almeida added that innovation is and will remain a critical contributor to Covidien’s “strong competitive advantage in the medical devices market, to Ireland’s business growth and high-technology job creation, and to the world’s economic recovery”.

Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD, and the head of medical technologies at IDA Ireland, Gus Jones, also spoke this morning.

Bruton touched on how the announcement is great news for Athlone and Galway, as well as reflecting Covidien’s commitment to high-end activities in Ireland.

“It is a welcome endorsement of Ireland’s record in research and development and represents a further boost for the vibrant medical-devices sector here. With the right policies, we can ensure that this announcement is replicated across the country in the coming years, and I am determined to make sure that happens,” he said.

Global hub for medical tech

Jones said the projects announced today will reinforce Ireland’s position as a “global hub for medical technologies, employing the highest number of medical technologies personnel per capita in Europe”. 

“Nearly 60pc of the medical technology companies with operations in Ireland conduct R&D locally, which is important for the sector’s continued growth and vitality.”

The projects involve the development of respiratory care products for ventilation and airway management. Two projects will be managed at the company’s plants in Athlone and Galway. The other four projects will be conducted at independent facilities in Ireland on behalf of Covidien.

They include projects with BlueBridge Technologies, the Biomedical Diagnostic Institute of Dublin City University and the National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway).

These six projects are the latest in a series of Irish research projects underwritten by Covidien. A year ago, Covidien announced it was investing €900,000 with IDA Ireland in two medical technologies research projects with NUI Galway. 

Last year, Covidien also announced in an €11m investment in a leading-edge European Services Centre in Cherrywood, Dublin, which employs 200 people. Covidien now employs more than 1,500 people in Ireland. 

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic