A Unique Ecosystem Driving Success
There have been many factors over the years that have contributed to the success of Ireland's MedTech industry. One of the main drivers today is the well-established and unique MedTech ecosystem.
That ecosystem comprises a broad range of organisations and stakeholders, including multinational corporations, SMEs, indigenous Irish companies, investors, third-level education institutions, and the Irish government through organisations like the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, and Skillnet.
This unique ecosystem encourages, facilitates, and supports the key ingredients for success:
- Innovation mindset, particularly through the growth of MedTech R&D in Ireland to complement manufacturing.
- Collaborative approach, such as through strong connections between medical device companies and the universities that are educating tomorrow's workforce.
- Convergence potential between MedTech, technology, and pharmaceuticals given Ireland also has strong tech and pharma industries. This convergence potential is leading to innovations in areas like digital health and combination devices.
- Talent base for Irish MedTech professionals in addition to an ever-growing number of people born outside the country who now call Ireland home.
Looking to the future, it is clear health care is changing in a number of significant areas. Populations are ageing in many parts of the world, and there are growing pressures on health care provision. Patient and user expectations are also changing, as are the regulations that govern the MedTech industry.
Technologies are driving change, too, with an increasing use of data and technologies that utilise the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
There are also areas of transformational change on the horizon. This includes Industry 4.0 technologies and the digitalisation of workflows, as well as the growing trend towards the personalisation of healthcare, where parts of the industry could transition from mass production to mass customisation.
Challenges Facing the Irish MedTech Sector
The MedTech sector in Ireland is acutely aware of the above changes taking place in healthcare, and it is at the forefront of shaping the industry's future in many areas.
There are also manufacturing cost challenges, which include competition, from low cost countries.
The introduction of the new EU MDR is also a challenge. A lot of the success enjoyed by the MedTech industry in Ireland, particularly in the strong growth period during the 1990s, came from foreign direct investment by US-based multinationals. They came to Europe because products could be approved and launched faster than in the US, and they came to Ireland because of its low-cost base. These benefits no longer exist.