UK Education Sector Procurement Report
Hosted by Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Venture Capital Association, this webinar “Women Entrepreneurs and Raising Venture Capital (VC) Funding” focuses on encouraging women-led companies to seek venture capital finance.
The purpose of this webinar is to support companies in all sectors and at all stages of growth that are seeking venture capital finance. There is a specific focus on encouraging and enabling women entrepreneurs to successfully raise VC finance.
It includes panel discussions with women funders and founders, which identifies and provides examples of successful fundraising strategies.
Recognising the under-representation of women in this space, the webinar is targeted at women-founders and co-founders in all sectors and at all stages of growth.
It provides a roadmap for women founders on their investment journey who wish to develop their investment skills and network with other women funders and founders.
Events over the past few years have made the business environment challenging to navigate but have also presented some unprecedented opportunities for Ireland’s innovative and dynamic entrepreneurs.
In a rapidly changing world, innovation is vital, making it so important for Enterprise Ireland to nurture and support promising ideas and those who produce them.
“We have a hotbed of talent and innovation in Ireland right now, so it’s more imperative than ever that our entrepreneurs are given the time, funding and advice to excel on a global scale,” says Jennifer Melia, Divisional Manager, Technology and Services Division at Enterprise Ireland.
Our strength in innovation was recently demonstrated in Enterprise Ireland’s 2022 Start-Up Showcase, which was held in the Aviva Stadium on Thursday, 7 April.
Making a welcome return in person – last year’s Start-Up Showcase was wholly virtual – the event was attended by the ‘Class of 2021’. This included 82 new High Potential Start-Ups (HPSUs), 43 approved Competitive Start Fund companies (CSFs) and representatives from each of the 32 New Frontiers programmes we supported during the year.
This number was on a par with previous years; considering the difficult business environment in 2020 and 2021, this is testament to the resilience of Irish start-ups and entrepreneurs.
Interestingly, and reflecting Enterprise Ireland’s commitment to supporting diversity in leadership teams, 24 of the 82 HPSUs and 16 of the 43 CSFs were led by female founders.
As a result, this year’s conference element at Start-Up Showcase aimed to tackle two of the most important subjects for start-ups.
The first panel focused on ‘Disruption and Customer-Led Innovation’. It featured Silvercloud Co-Founder and CEO Ken Cahill, Novus Diagnostics Founder and CEO Elaine Spain, and ACT VC General Partner John O’Sullivan.
Centaur Fund Services Founding Partner and CEO Karen Malone, Kyte Powertech CEO Stephanie Leonard and Cubic Telecom CEO Barry Napier then shared their experiences on ‘Building a Strong Team and Funding for Scale’.
The conference then ended with a keynote speech from LearnUpon Co-Founder and CEO Brendan Noud as his company, a HPSU from the Class of 2013, goes from strength to strength.
Due to the public health measures, last year’s event was wholly virtual due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. But this year’s was both live streamed and in person.
“In total, there were 500 attendees including representatives from the Irish start-up ecosystem, including VCs and other funders, State support agencies, strategic company partners and professional and financial services, Government departments, academics, business mentors and Local Enterprise Offices.”
As companies that formed during the second year of the pandemic, the ‘Class of 2021’ have shown innovation and resilience like never before. Proving that Ireland is the “go to” country when it comes to finding global solutions, these companies produced a number of solutions in many sectors, including digital health, fintech, medtech, software, sustainability and more.
“The ‘Class of 2021’ is really impressive,” says Jennifer. “Take a look at Amnexis Digital Solutions, based in the Guinness Enterprise Centre, a digital health company that records patient data efficiently, therefore reducing the administration workload on hospital, homecare and nursing home staff.”
And there’s more to come. Although we are only a few months into 2022, already the easing of restrictions has resulted in a renewed energy in Ireland’s start-up community.
The future has never been more exciting for Irish entrepreneurs to Lead in a Changing World.
There have been many headlines about the strength of the Irish medtech sector, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many of our indigenous life sciences companies are making waves in every corner of the world, and big economies such as the US are looking to Ireland for innovative solutions for every aspect of healthcare.
This strength was demonstrated at this year’s Arab Health, the leading exhibition in the MENA region for the healthcare industry. The 2022 event took place at the Dubai World Trade Centre from 24 – 27 January and was followed by an online event from 31 January – 10 February.
Enterprise Ireland had a significant presence at the event, showcasing the work of 14 companies. An additional six client companies also attended the show.
The influence of Arab Health cannot be underestimated. For many years, it has been a major event for connecting clinicians, procurement professionals, dealers and distributors from all over the world. This year, more than 3,500 exhibitors took part and over 56,000 healthcare professionals attended, all eager to see the latest innovations.
The theme of this year’s event was ‘United by Business, Forging Ahead’, which reflected the importance that new technologies and innovation have in today’s rapidly changing global healthcare industry. According to Eamon Sikafi, Commercial Counsellor – Middle East & North Africa at Enterprise Ireland, this means plenty of opportunity for Irish companies.
“For example, digitalisation is very much at a pilot stage in most GCC countries, offering significant opportunities for Irish companies working in this sector.”
“Another trend is the move to domestic drug production. Currently, over 90% of the market is driven by imported drugs, but a rising number of collaborations between multinational companies and domestic manufacturing looks set to change this.”
“A third area in which Irish companies are particularly strong is medical technologies. The GCC medical technologies market accounts for 2.7% of global revenues, but currently the sector is dominated by imports. Domestic manufacturing is still in its early stages and accounts for less than 20% of market revenues.”
Enterprise Ireland market advisors have identified areas in the region that are filled with opportunities for Irish companies between now and 2030.
“Electronic Health Records (EHR), artificial intelligence for radiology, robotic surgeries and patient engagement platforms for pharmaceutical companies are predicted to become a $2 billion market by 2030,” Eamon says.
“Public Private Partnership (PPP) opportunities will support growth across the region, with at least 40% of private sector healthcare growth driven by PPP. Investment in cancer treatment technologies will surge as early diagnosis of cancer is likely to increase by 10% by 2030.”
“Collaboration between hospitals and companies to develop corporate wellness programs will become a $2 billion market by 2030. And, medical consumables manufacturing is likely to emerge as a $30 billion market by end of 2030, with Saudi Arabia poised to become a regional hub by 2023.”
Irish company AceTech has built up business in the region worth €10 million, working in the areas of safety, patient care and AI software for several ambulance services in GCC countries and cities.
Galway-based Aerogen, a leader in aerosol medication delivery systems, opened an office in Dubai in 2018 and has grown significantly in the region since the start of the pandemic. Most recently, the company announced a major deal with Gulf Medical, a market leader in medical device distribution in Saudi Arabia.
Fleming Medical began operating in the region in 2014 and currently services several GCC countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Kuwait and Oman. This year, the company plans to expand operations into Iraq and North Africa, growing business by 25% by the end of 2023.
Ireland may not be the first country to spring to mind when you talk about space travel or exploration, but recently this industry has proved itself to have plenty of opportunities for Irish innovation, both from companies and research bodies.
Many businesses based in Ireland are already working in the area, thanks to our involvement with the European Space Agency (ESA). What’s more, several Irish companies are now playing a pivotal role in some of the most thrilling and high-profile space missions.
One such mission was the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST, or simply Webb), the next great space science observatory following the famous Hubble Telescope.
The Webb was launched from ESA’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on Christmas Day 2021. It now resides one-and-a-half million kilometres from Earth, hovering in line with our planet as it orbits the sun.
Over 25 years in development, the Webb telescope has the ability to look back 13.5 billion years in time to observe the birth of the first galaxies and the lifecycle of stars and exoplanets.
Webb follows the Hubble Telescope in the line of great space observatories. Both have different scientific capabilities and will operate together, complementing each other, for several years.
In fact, according to Bryan Rodgers, Senior Development Executive at Enterprise Ireland and a member of the Irish delegation to the ESA, Webb has the capacity to do far more than the Hubble.
“The Webb has over six times the light-gathering capacity and is a hundred times more sensitive, with the ability to peer through clouds of dust by capturing light in the infrared part of the spectrum.”
Webb is the result of an international project led by NASA with the ESA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Within the ESA’s contribution, two Irish companies and an Irish research institute played significant roles in the development of the Webb’s scientific instruments and in its launch into space.
“Firstly, there was significant Irish input into the development of the infrared detector technology,” comments Bryan. “Professor Tom Ray of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) was Co-Principal Investigator for the Mid-InfraRed Instrument (MIRI) on Webb, which will produce images and spectra with unprecedented sharpness and sensitivity.”
“Professor Tom Ray and his team from DIAS also provided MIRI’s infrared filters, which breaks up the light into its various components, and imaging software that will analyse the instrument data sent back to Earth and produce scientific images.”
An Irish company also played an important role in Webb’s launch into space via an Ariane 5 launcher.
“Réaltra Space Systems Engineering designed and manufactured the video imaging system onboard the Ariane 5 launch vehicle, which gave us impressive high-definition video images of the separation of the launcher’s fairing and separation of the telescope itself,” says Bryan.
Interestingly, Réaltra’s system was originally designed for the Ariane 6 launch vehicle, which is due its first flight in the second half of 2022.
“In addition, a second Irish company, Nammo Ireland, provided structural supports for the Vulcain engine that powers Ariane 5 – and will be involved in producing components for both the Vulcain and Vinci engines on the new Ariane 6 launch vehicle.”
The involvement of these Irish entities came about as a result of Ireland’s membership of the ESA, which is managed through the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
Enterprise Ireland plays a huge role in enabling this work, by supporting and guiding Irish companies and research institutes in developing technologies through ESA programmes, and in commercialising these technologies in the worldwide space market, with over 100 companies supported to date.
“These opportunities will only become more plentiful as our understanding of space grows and develops. We are confident that more Irish companies will be involved in such thrilling projects in the future.”
Estimated article reading time: 12 minutes
Across Europe, EU member states are seeking to digitalise their healthcare systems as rapidly as possible over the next three years. This is not only spurred by the pandemic, but also by an extraordinary increase in funding under the €750 billion NextGenerationEU plan, which seeks to build a more resilient Europe.
Two key goals of this plan are to make Europe digital and to make it healthy, with the development of digital healthcare an engine driving both of those. France, for example, is dedicating €2 billion to digital health alone in its national recovery and resilience plan.
Within the digital goal, the EU wants to see artificial intelligence (AI) being used to improve healthcare and for public services to become digital where possible, taking advantage of 5G and EU-wide ultra-fast broadband.
The EU is also keen for member states to modernise their health systems with better access to new technology and medical supplies, and to invest more in research and innovation to develop vaccines and treatments.
With significant tranches of funding dedicated to both of these goals in individual member state recovery and resilience plans, this clearly presents a huge opportunity for Irish companies who produce or develop digital health products and services. That’s true whether they want to start exporting or diversify their export markets.
Given the need to pursue a market diversification strategy post-Brexit, she adds that it makes sense for companies that want to export or to expand their export activities to look to EU markets and try to take advantage of this huge increase in funded projects.
Everywhere in Europe, the pandemic has seen a huge surge in telemedicine, remote care and remote monitoring, as both citizens seek to protect themselves and healthcare providers look to maximise resources. This sector is expanding rapidly, meaning that opportunities abound for businesses keen to export.
Optimising data and processes
Across the region, governments are also seeking to optimise processes in healthcare, making the most of software and apps, and aiming for a high level of interoperability and better co-ordination between all the different strands of healthcare systems.
They want to make better use of data, with most countries seeking to introduce or improve digital health profiles, which offer a single source of truth to each citizen and all their healthcare providers.
In most markets, both preventative and personalised medicine, including the use of AI in medicine, are also beginning to boom. As ever, any innovation in medical devices and device components is also going to be of interest to European customers, especially in Germany and Italy.
Innovation in medical imaging is also highly sought after, particularly in France, where it is a core focus. Medical areas in particular focus include: cardiac health; diabetes; oncology; and respiratory diseases.
In some less mature markets, such as Italy, there are also opportunities for companies that can provide innovative solutions around connectivity for healthcare locations and digital skills across the health and medical workforce.
National healthcare systems are never straightforward, and the level and nature of the complexity involved varies from market to market. Most have both public and private healthcare systems running in parallel, although the public/private split varies significantly.
In some countries, such as Germany and Spain, private hospital chains and large insurance companies that offer branded clinics and digital products are significant actors.
While the increase in EU funding is primarily focused on public healthcare, it is worth bearing in mind that a private healthcare company can often make faster decisions and be less hamstrung by legacy and regulatory processes.
Where healthcare is concerned, localisation is important in every market, even in those with a high degree of fluency in English.
Those seeking to sell into the public healthcare system in any EU market typically need to work with a local systems integrator, who is used to navigating the complexity of the national system and national tender processes.
“Whether your company is focusing on securing public or private customers, you will need a local partner who understands the healthcare system and you may need a local office or representative,” says Lanigan.
While any Irish company operating in the digital healthcare space needs to offer a standout product or service to gain traction in export markets, the good news is that Irish firms are typically keeping pace with local competitors and can garner market share fast when their offering has the edge over those developed in-market.
Digitalisation of the healthcare system is a huge priority in Belgium, but language and regulatory complexity pose a challenge to exporters.
€40m digital healthcare funding allocated across:
Medical priority areas:
Belgian healthcare system
Digitalising Belgian healthcare
Relative digital maturity
Determined to lead the region in digital healthcare, France has introduced numerous eHealth initiatives, backed by substantial funding.
Digital health initiatives and innovation
With an approvals fast track in place, Germany is committed to digital health but the competitive local scene is hard to crack.
Germany’s healthcare system
Relative digital maturity
While it has lagged on the digital front, Italy is committed to modernising its healthcare system and is open to external innovation.
€191.6 billion in grants and loans for recovery and resilience
Digital connectivity is also a priority, with 12,279 healthcare facilities slated to be provided with 1GBPS connectivity by 2026
Relative digital maturity
Focus on senior care
Local healthcare system
The Netherlands has not yet submitted a national recovery and resilience plan – the only EU member state not to do so.
With one of the most advanced healthcare systems in the world, the Netherlands has a strong focus on digital health innovation.
Medical priority areas
Nature of healthcare system
Relative digital maturity
Support for digital health
While Spain is a fragmented market due to strong regional government, opportunity abounds as digital healthcare is less advanced than elsewhere.
Priority investment areas
A fragmented market
Spanish healthcare system
As an island nation, the export economy is essential for the health and growth of Irish companies. Our reputation for innovation and entrepreneurship has served us well in that regard, with Irish companies finding huge success in every corner of the world. Key markets such as the UK, the US, France and Germany remain hugely important, but ambitious Irish exporters are exploring other countries that are actively looking for the products and solutions produced by Irish entrepreneurs – and finding a whole new world of opportunity. A region that is growing rapidly in importance for Irish business is the Nordics, an area made up of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland.
Currently, over 450 Enterprise Ireland supported companies export to the Nordics, with exports reaching a remarkable €1.16 billion in 2020. It’s easy to see why this region is so attractive, home to 26 million inhabitants, the Nordic region is the 11th largest economy in the world.
Irish companies have a strong track record and reputation here, says Eoghan O’Connor, Market Executive, ICT & Start Ups, Enterprise Ireland. “The Nordics are known for being progressive, stable, and open to new technology.”
This innovation can be seen in the number of household names from the Nordics. For instance, within the Nordic ecosystem are global companies like H&M, Nokia, Volvo, Maersk, and Ericsson. In addition, outside of Silicon Valley, the Nordics have generated the highest number of unicorns per capita globally, including companies like Spotify, Mojang (creators of Minecraft), Oatly, and Klarna.
“The success of these companies is down to the ecosystem, which is a fertile ground for innovation and entrepreneurship,” explains Eoghan. “Their comprehensive welfare state provides citizens with free education, healthcare, and social security and their public sector provides a strong framework for the ecosystem with opportunities for funding and other supports. There is also a dedicated focus on R&D and in general they are a population of early adopters of new technology.”
Already there are several very successful Irish companies in the region, all of which offer clever solutions in several different areas. “These include WAZP, an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) that specialises in the production of 3D printing materials, which has forged a partnership with IKEA, one of the most globally recognised brands,” says Eoghan.
“In addition, iCabbi, a Dublin cloud-based taxi firm, have a contract with Finnish taxi company Meneva, which has grown its fleet from 100 cars to over 1,500 since joining iCabbi over two years ago.”
A key term in today’s global business world is sustainability, a significant area of growth as we race towards ambitious goals of net zero emissions. The Nordic countries have been long considered leaders in this field, especially in the area of environmentally friendly transport options, such as public scooter schemes.
“Irish companies are playing their part here also,” says Eoghan. “For instance, Luna Technologies, which develops AI tech for the e-scooter market, has partnered with Swedish scooter giant Voi, while Zeus has rolled out scooters in Oslo, Halmstad, and Karlstad.”
These Irish companies have found huge success in the region – but there’s plenty more opportunity for ambitious Irish exporters who will find an open and welcoming market for their innovative products and solutions. To demonstrate the Irish Advantage to the Nordics, Enterprise Ireland showcased Irish innovation at SLUSH, a global-leading event for start-ups and the largest of its kind in the Nordics, which took place in December 2021 in Helsinki.
The event is considered a hotbed of start-up talent; the sold-out 2021 event attracted 8,000 attendees, over 3,200 start-up founders, and 1,500 investors, all of whom travelled from every part of the world. Irish attendees included seven companies, some already successful in the region along with some newcomers that have compelling offerings for this market
These included Boundless (B2B SaaS technology), MyPatientSpace (life sciences), Educatly (higher education), PlantQuest (oil & gas and data centres), Zeus (transport and mobility), Social Talent (learning and development), and Tito (events & ticketing).
The event acted as a springboard for Irish companies looking to expand their offerings in this prosperous region, keen to avail of the positives of trading in an area that values innovation, flexible working relationships and timely solutions to the issues that really matter in today’s world – everything that Irish enterprise is revered for.
Gender balance, diversity and inclusion is something we strive to promote as much as possible as a society, but in the world of business, having gender balance in a leadership team has been proved to have a very real and positive impact on a company.
As a result, gender balance in management is something that Enterprise Ireland is widely advocating and supporting through a major new initiative, The Level Project.
The Level Project has its origins in Enterprise Ireland’s Action Plan for Women in Business, which recognised that increasing the number of women in middle and senior management, as well as on boards, leads to more successful, sustainable and profitable businesses. “The Plan saw that there are considerable economic benefits that lie, untapped, in women in their roles both as customers and as talent,” says Sheelagh Daly, Entrepreneurship Manager at Enterprise Ireland. “In essence, by achieving gender balance, a company is tapping into 100% of the talent pool and 100% of the market.”
The findings of the report is reflected in numerous studies that show that gender-balanced leadership teams can help businesses grow on a global scale. But despite all these studies and their clear conclusions, Irish companies are a long way from achieving gender balance in senior teams.
There are numerous reasons why, but in the interests of helping companies progress and work towards their own individual gender-balance goals, The Level Project is a practical initiative that includes an online Action Planning Toolkit. Free to all companies, this toolkit helps companies assess their current situation and put in place real actions to enhance gender balance in senior teams.
“Achieving gender balance is certainly harder in some industries than others, but simply taking some steps to enhance the gender balance of your leadership team can have tangible benefits for your business,” explains Sheelagh.
These advantages are already being experienced by four early champions of The Level Project.
VRAI is a fast-growing tech firm in the field of data-driven VR simulation training, and believes that a diversity of mindset is essential to help mitigate the complexity of what they are trying to achieve.
Similarly, Spearline, a leader in telecommunication technology, credits a better understanding of their diverse customer base to diversity within their senior teams.
For CLS, Ireland’s largest contract laboratory, having gender balance throughout the company, especially in leadership teams, creates harmony in the workplace, which can only lead to success.
However, achieving gender balance is very much a long-term plan for a lot of companies, especially those in industries that are traditionally male dominated. For example, Shannon-based Modular Automation has recognised that gender balance is hard to reach if girls are not seeing engineering as a viable career choice in school – a key part of their strategy is therefore demonstrating the advantages of studying engineering to girls at Junior Cert stage and lower.
A key part of The Level Project is the Action Planning Toolkit, which is suitable for all companies, big and small, whether they are just starting out on their gender balance journey or want to improve and target their efforts even further. The Toolkit consists of six themes (Strategy, Attract, Retain, Develop, Engage, Measure), each of which is divided into two levels according to how advanced a company is. “We recommend that every company should start with the Strategy theme,” explains Sheelagh.
A series of questions is included within each theme; answering ‘No’ to a question presents the user with suggested actions to include in their plan. Each theme also includes links to helpful resources such as guides, templates and expert insights. Once finished, an editable Action Plan for the company can be downloaded, which includes all the actions chosen as well as space for notes.
Enterprise Ireland client companies can also apply for several supports to help develop and implement their gender balance plan. Details of these supports can be found here or by talking to your Development Advisor.
We are living in extraordinary times, but it’s not all bad news for Irish business. Over the next couple of years, those who can or who are keen to export can take advantage of a significant opportunity, fuelled by the NextGenerationEU funding package put in place by the European Commission. At €750 billion*, it’s the largest ever stimulus package in Europe and some is directly aimed at SMEs.
“The objective is twofold,” explains Marco Lopriore, at the European Institute of Public Administration (EIPA). “It is recovery, to help the European economy recover from the past year, but it is also resilience.
Within the overall project, the EU level of investment is supplemented by the agendas and priorities of each national government.
*The current value of the funding is €806.9 billion. It was €750 billion when agreed in 2018.
This Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) means a wave of funding unrolling across all 27 EU member states to support investment in public services and infrastructure, to make Europe greener, more digital and more resilient.
As Ireland seeks to build a deeper trade relationship with Europe, that funding represents an excellent opportunity for Irish companies to break into new markets or to deepen and scale their presence in existing markets.
Across everything from digital health care and green technology to smart cities and cybersecurity, there are hundreds of Eurozone recovery projects to complete across the EU over the next few years. All of them will be fully funded.
The overall fund is focused on six pillars, with the green transition and digital transformation being top of the list. The European Commission has specified that each country must assign at least 37% and 20% of their spending to those pillars, respectively.
The green transition covers everything from clean tech, renewable energy and energy efficiency, sustainable transport, improving water quality to creating greener cities and making farming more eco-friendly.
Digital projects to get funding span 5G, digitalisation of public service, cloud computing, smart cities, artificial intelligence, blockchain and more, including projects focused on reskilling and upskilling to improve digital literacy.
Areas in which many Irish firms specialise, such as cybersecurity and the digitalisation of health are a significant focus in many plans, says Lopriore, who wrote extensively on national areas of focus for NextGenerationEU funding in a recent paper.
When it comes to providing health and medical services online, France will invest €2 billion in the digitalisation of health, while Germany will invest €3.8 billion.
The funding offers new momentum to Irish exporters targeting Europe, a trend that was already soaring, says Lanigan.
For companies that want to export for the first time or to diversify their export markets, Enterprise Ireland can offer support and advice. This includes everything from market research and helping a company to get export-ready to tapping into a wide network of contacts and making the right introductions.
“The easiest model is where a client is looking for a customer and we can introduce them,” says Lanigan. “Exporting often involves a local partner and we introduce companies to the right people– the local influencers, the potential partners and those they could collaborate with, including other Irish companies.
The markets of interest to individual companies will depend on the nature of the products and services they offer. Those selling into the tourism and hospitality sector, for example, will find more extensive opportunities in Southern Europe, where governments are placing more emphasis on this sector.
Many countries mention renovating buildings to be more energy-efficient and installing more electric vehicle charging situations, but Germany is putting particular emphasis on hydrogen production and AI, for example.
Detailed country-by-country information in English on the plans and priorities of each Member State can be found here.
While deciding to expand export operations can seem daunting to some, Lanigan encourages Irish business owners and managers to examine the RRP options open to them. That includes going beyond the UK, even as a first export market.
“Diversifying our export markets has become even more important since Brexit,” she says. “Now, 29% of our clients’ exports go to the UK, but that is down from 45% a decade ago.
A marked improvement in marine links is helping, she adds, as more routes with more capacity mean it is much easier to trade directly with EU customers.
“Irish companies have a great reputation across Europe, with customers having a really positive view of them. And when you see the Irish products and services selling into Europe – they are top notch and born of incredible innovation – it’s evident why they are well regarded.”
Ireland has long been known as one of the epicentres of the medtech world. Not only has our country been chosen as a base for many of the biggest medtech companies in the world, thanks to our excellent talent base and reputation for timely research and development, but we have also been responsible for producing our own ground-breaking companies, some of which have made a real impact on a global scale.
In fact, Ireland is now one of the top five global medtech hubs and home to up to 350 companies in the sector, including 14 of the world’s top 15 medtech companies. We are also the largest medtech employer per capita in Europe, with 45,000 people employed in the sector. Our medtech industry exports over €13 billion to over 100 countries every year, positioning Ireland as the second-largest exporter of medtech products in Europe.
Over 200 of those medtech companies are Irish, and one in five of those working in the sector are employed directly by Irish-owned medtech companies. The impact of these companies on the economy is significant – in 2020, Enterprise Ireland life sciences clients achieved exports of €1.9 billion.
“Our success is down to a combination of track record and forward thinking and a deep pool of experience and highly trained talent. This is boosted by a fertile ecosystem that integrates industry, research and the clinical community to promote high-quality innovation.”
Never has our strength in medtech been so needed than over the last 18 months, when the world found itself in the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic. Numerous Irish companies reacted quickly to the crisis, pivoting their offerings to create valuable solutions to aspects of the pandemic or ramping up production to supply essential devices to hospitals around the world. In fact, Ireland is currently ranked fifth in the world for Covid-19 related goods, with companies such as, Aerogen, patientMPower and PMD Solutions leading the way in medtech innovation.
Now, however, we are moving into a post-pandemic world, a world where healthcare needs have changed significantly and medtech innovations are needed more than ever before. And once again, Irish innovators are responding quickly with some great innovations.
“Irish medtech companies proved how agile and flexible they were during the pandemic,” says Deirdre. “Our focus has now turned to the post-Covid world, and how the pandemic has changed healthcare, both in terms of how we access it and in terms of how it is delivered. A lot of eyes are on Irish innovators, some of whom have already come up with exciting solutions.”
Many of these were showcased in Med in Ireland, which took place virtually on 3-4 November 2021. A biennial event, Med in Ireland is a high-profile national showcase for the entire spectrum of the Irish medtech sector, encompassing medical devices, medical sub-supply, diagnostics, digital health, healthcare providers, clinicians and research professionals. This year, 81 Irish manufacturing and healthcare solution providers took part in the event, meeting with international healthcare buyers in a series of virtual one-to-one meetings arranged by Enterprise Ireland. Ireland’s collaborative supports that drive company innovation were also a key focus of the event, while the Innovation Zone showcased some truly exciting start-ups of the future.
“The focus at this year’s Med in Ireland is very much on the themes shaping the post-pandemic healthcare world,” says Deirdre. “These include industry changes such as the move to preventative care, the role of digitalisation in the shift to healthcare outside of hospital settings, the emergence of technologies that reduce environmental impact and improve competitiveness, and the development of new distribution and inventory management models to supply chain weaknesses.”
These themes were at the forefront of the event from the very start, with a special conference featuring a keynote speech from Lorna Ross, Chief Innovation Officer at VHI Health & Wellbeing, and a panel discussion on the future of global healthcare.
Participants could then enjoy example after example of how Irish innovators are responding the needs of healthcare in the post-Covid world. “We have a number of really impressive client companies producing solutions that are required on a global scale,” says Deirdre. “These include LetsGetChecked, a virtual care company that offers over 30 different at-home tests that act as an alternative to traditional in-person medical visits; Swiftqueue, a company offering a self-service portal that allows patients to manage medical appointments across multiple clinic settings; and Vitalograph, a global leader in respiratory diagnostics and clinical trials that offers remote monitoring of lung function and disorders.”
Once again, Med in Ireland attracted leading healthcare providers from all over the world, all of whom look to Ireland for solutions, with the hope of co-developing and commercialising new medical technologies with Irish innovation at its core. Ireland has clearly played a huge role in shaping global healthcare – and that role looks to be growing even further as we move through this period of recovery.