NUIG co-invests in new €10m medical technology fund

3 Feb 2011

Ireland’s top performing medical technology industry has received a welcome boost in the form of a new €10m Bank of Ireland MedTech Accelerator Fund to seed export-oriented start-up life science companies.

Investments in the new fund, which will be managed by Kernel Capital, will range from €100,000 to €500,000.

The fund will focus on export-oriented high-potential start-up life sciences companies that operate in the medical device, diagnostics or medical/laboratory sectors.

The fund will operate synergistically with the Information Communications and Technology focused Bank of Ireland Seed and Early Stage Equity Fund also managed by Kernel Capital, as well as with the Seroba Kernel Life Sciences Fund that typically invests in the €2m to €5m range in later-stage projects.

The launch of the fund marks the introduction of NUI Galway as an investor with Kernel Capital. NUI Galway joins its strategic alliance partner the University of Limerick, and the Bank of Ireland and Enterprise Ireland in supporting this unique initiative for early stage medical technology companies.

This new fund marks an important increase in the availability of capital to support the commercialisation of new and innovative products from ambitious Irish companies, said Seamus Bree, West Region director, Enterprise Ireland.

Irish medical technology industry generates €6.8bn in exports

“Bank of Ireland recognises the importance of supporting start-up businesses across emerging sectors, including medical technology,” said Donal Duffy, head of Enterprise Ireland relations, Bank of Ireland.

“The launch today of the Bank of Ireland MedTech Accelerator Fund with our strategic partner Kernel Capital further demonstrates our commitment to this key growth area and our continuing support for domestic export-oriented businesses in Ireland. We are delighted to be a key investment partner in this fund and welcome the involvement of NUI Galway and University of Limerick and the valuable research work conducted in both universities to support these emerging sectors.”

As one of the top-performing sectors in the Irish economy, medical technology directly employs more than 24,000 people and generated €6.8bn in exports in 2009. Nine of the world’s top 10 medical technology companies have invested significantly in Ireland.

The medical technology market is estimated to be worth circa US$300bn worldwide and the west of Ireland in particular is noted globally as a centre of excellence in the creation of innovative research-based companies and indigenous medical device start-ups.  This new fund creates greater access to investment, enabling early stage companies to capitalise on the sector’s potential.

Helping start-ups access early stage capital is crucial

Dr James J. Browne, president of National University of Ireland Galway, said: “Through its research activities, NUI Galway continues to play an important role in the development of the medical technologies sector in Ireland, so it is particularly appropriate that we are involved in this new initiative. We are delighted to invest with Kernel Capital and join with the University of Limerick in supporting the Bank of Ireland MedTech Accelerator Fund. This fund will enable new companies to gain access to the seed funding necessary to bring their innovations to the product development stage.”

Prof Don Barry, president of the University of Limerick, added: “Today’s announcement reflects the University of Limerick’s commitment to working with Irish industry and reinforces the UL-NUI Galway Strategic Alliance. This fund will play a key role in helping start-up and emerging companies to access early stage capital to grow, create jobs and commercialise new innovations.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years