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Medtech startups gain huge advantages by looking to Ireland

Posted by Chad O'Connor  January 30, 2014 06:00 AM

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Boston’s Irish roots run deep and many local residents—including the city’s new mayor, Marty Walsh—are proud of their familial connections to the Emerald Isle. However, what many Bostonians don’t realize is that beyond personal lineages lies the potential for an incredible business connection with Ireland, as the country (much like Boston) is a global hub for the life-science industry.

While some may be aware that many Irish companies have invested significant resources in Massachusetts in order to create employment opportunities, most don’t know that there is a huge opportunity for an innovation exchange of people, ideas, and resources between the two countries. Ireland now is one of the largest clusters in Europe where research translates into lean startup ventures that can flourish in a ecosystem where innovation means business.

Take, for example, a startup in the life-science sector looking for a European base to build a global business: Ireland offers significant unique advantages including an educated workforce, access to funding, and admission to research institutions, clinicians, hospitals and clinical research organisations. In fact, these advantages are the reasons that virtually every medical multinational company—including Abbott, Boston Scientific, Johnson & Johnson, and Medtronic—has chosen Ireland as their European headquarters for the design, development and manufacture of next generation products.

The success of Ireland’s life science community is unparalleled, and medtech companies may be interested to learn that:


  • Ireland is the largest Medtech employer in Europe per capita

  • 25% of the world’s injectible devices come from Ireland

  • 50% of ventilators in acute hospitals worldwide are made in Ireland

  • 33% of the world’s contact lenses are manufactured in Ireland

  • 80% of global stent production is carried out in Ireland

My organization, Enterprise Ireland, is an Irish government agency that supports the growth and development of Irish enterprises, and is the lead agency working with startups in the country. In fact, we are currently leading Ireland’s participation in Horizon 2020—an EU program for research and innovation that commenced this year and will run through 2020—to help SMEs prove new technology in the market. Each year we invest in more than 150 startups in the technology sector, and also provide medtech startups access to global markets through our network of 30 international offices.

Our Boston office helps medtech companies in Massachusetts identify opportunities with Irish suppliers, while simultaneously working with Irish companies to find partners in the Boston market and establish a presence on the ground (see what I mean by an innovation exchange?).

By continuing to share ideas and resources, Boston and Ireland can work together to support the growth and development of promising medtech start-ups, and ultimately pave the way for medtech innovation worldwide.

TJ Hughes is Senior Development Advisor for Enterprise Ireland.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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