Venture capital firms with €6bn have Irish med-tech sector in their sights

31 Mar 2014

More than 30 venture capital firms with more than €6bn in funds under management are meeting in Dublin on 8-10 April for three days to explore opportunities to invest in the burgeoning Irish medical-technology sector.

Leading international names, such as Omnes Capital, Abingworth and Sofinnova, will be among the big players eyeing the sector, which has exports valued at almost €8bn.

Peter Sandys, managing partner of Seroba Kernel, the Dublin-based venture capital firm with €95m in funds under management, explained that regulatory uncertainty and unforeseen consequences of Obamacare are driving US innovation overseas, to the benefit of Ireland.

“Ireland’s medical sector had already become one of the leading clusters for medical device products globally, the change in the US healthcare and regulatory regime has made Ireland even more attractive,’’ he said.

Dublin wins out over London, Paris and Brussels

Seroba Kernel had the idea of bringing the IN3 Medical Devices 360° event to Dublin for the first time last year. The venture capitalists and delegates were so pleased with the result that they chose Dublin again this year, said Sandys, who added the event had previously been held in London, Paris, and Brussels.

Vicky La Touche Price, marketing director with Seroba Kernel, said four Irish start-ups are among the 10 finalists in the MedTech Idol competition taking place on 9 April as part of the IN3 event.

A panel of investors will judge these early stage companies and the audience will vote in real-time for the winner. The winner will receive a complimentary presenting slot and registration to IN3 Medical Device 360° Summit in San Francisco, California, in November this year. The winner will also be profiled in an upcoming issue of the global monthly magazine START-UP, which reviews emerging medical ventures.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for start-ups in the medical-devices and life-sciences sectors to showcase their ideas to investors who may wish to partner with them,’’ La Touche Price said.

There will be more than 200 attendees at the Dublin event made up of both Irish and foreign entrepreneurs, both early and later stage start-ups, venture capitalists and key global corporates. Representatives of the European Investment Fund, Enterprise Ireland and Bank of Ireland will also be attending.

James L Greene, CEO of Apica Cardiovascular, makers of a device that facilitates minimally invasive heart surgery, plans to be at IN3 Dublin.

“We will be there to talk about our experience to other medical-device firms, like Apica, who have an idea, may currently be based overseas, but are keen to see their product brought to market in the fastest time possible.

“We chose to base ourselves in Galway after securing Irish funding from Seroba Kernel and Enterprise Ireland, but also because of the rich mix of support services that are available for med-tech companies here and the quicker route through the regulatory process that the European CE Mark affords,’’ Greene said.

Bruno Montanari, life sciences director at Omnes Capital, a private equity firm based in France with a venture capital unit managing more than €400m of funds, said: “We attended last year and are delighted to return this year to experience the amazing buzz of IN3 Dublin once again.

“There is so much happening in the Irish med-tech sector and so many start-ups to meet that it’s a must for venture capitalists (VCs) like us looking to find the next big thing in medical devices. It also gives us a chance to meet the other VCs with whom we may later choose to syndicate to invest in new med-tech companies.”

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