Irish Medtech companies are highly focused on using innovation to help customers in the healthcare sector to achieve their goals in the face of global challenges. This can be anything from the need to extend their product range to maximising cost efficiency.
These companies are operating in a global healthcare market in which major global trends are driving substantial change, including:
- Health care reform provisions such as increases in government funding and broader insurance coverage;
- Rising health costs prompting both governments and consumers to look towards community care, cutting down on the demand for inpatient care;
- Technological advancements and product innovation: e-health, personalised medicine and self-treatment are on the rise and combination device and big data analytics are increasingly active;
- An ageing population and rising incidence of chronic diseases increasing demand for new products and services to support smart ageing and self-care.
In designing their products and solutions, Irish companies recognise that they must improve the efficiency of a health institution or a clinician, as well as ensure better patient outcomes – for example, a reduction in infection or length of stay in a hospital.
An increasing number of innovative Medtech startups are emerging from Ireland’s higher education institutes supported by Enterprise Ireland. The types of solutions being developed by Medtech startups in Ireland range from remote monitoring devices using smart technologies, devices which facilitate simpler and quicker diagnoses of diseases and novel implants which lead to quicker healing times post-surgery.
In the area of sub-supply, multinational customers are asking more from suppliers in terms of innovative processes and solutions. Irish companies have responded by investing in modern equipment and lean operational practices. More recently, they have invested in their own capability to develop products – rather than simply winning a contract to make components for a customer; they work with the customer to develop a part they subsequently supply.
Connected health is a particularly exciting area in Ireland, in terms of start-ups and the potential for innovation. Solutions are being developed with a view to moving healthcare from the hospital and clinic into the day-to-day lives of patients using mobile technology, networked devices and remote monitoring tools. These solutions will maximise healthcare resources and provide flexible ways for consumers to engage with clinicians and better self-manage their care.
In addition to 18 of the world’s top 25 Medtech companies, ten of the world’s top ten ICT companies and nine of the world’s top ten biopharmaceutical companies have significant operations in Ireland. It is expected that the critical mass Ireland has in these industries will allow the country to contribute to the convergence of health and the Internet of Things on a global scale.
The strength of the indigenous Medtech sector is prominent as 6,500 people are employed directly by 250 Irish owned companies. This company base has extensive capabilities across the medical technologies supply chain from research, design and development, manufacturing (including sub-assembly and assembly facilities), marketing, software, connected health, innovative finished products, OEMs, healthcare aids and supplies, and the provision of Medtech services including clinical trials management, regulation, engineering and construction.
Around 60% of the 300 Medtech companies in Ireland are engaged in R&D activities. Rather than the domestic market being viewed as a test-bed for new products, as is the case in other industries, the sector is addressing global problems with globally-relevant solutions.