300w-medical-devicesIreland is one of the leading global hubs for the medical devices industry, generating €6.7 billion (2009) in exports and employing more than 22,700 people (90 per cent in foreign multinational companies). Ireland is now the second largest exporter of medical products in Europe, behind Germany. Eight of the world’s 10 largest medical device companies are located in Ireland. Of the 120 companies in the sector, 50 are foreign owned (mainly US) MNCs, 40 are Irish companies engaged in sub-supply and contract manufacturing and there are approximately 30 indigenous companies involved in developing and marketing finished products.

There has been a significant Irish investment in medical device research in the last 10 years; from 2003 to 2010, Science Foundation Ireland has invested approximately €160 million in Bio-engineering, Diagnostics, Devices and Imaging. In addition, over €150 million has been invested in applied and industry partnered research. Key areas of research include: Minimally-Invasive Surgical innovations; Cardiovascular and vascular disease, particularly stents; Biomaterials and scaffolds, particularly in orthopaedics.

The medical device sector is constantly driven by research and development and continues to demonstrate strong growth prospects. Ireland has built strength and critical mass in a number of research areas that underpin the sector including materials, nanotechnology, biomedical research etc. Building on basic research capacity, a number of clusters and centres (including SFI funded CSETs and several SFI-funded Strategic Research Clusters) are currently engaging with and supporting the activities of the medical device industry. An important enabler of innovation is engagement by the healthcare sector with industry, and with academic and clinical researchers, to facilitate testing, validation and adoption of new medical devices and to support clinician-led innovation and the generation of start-up companies.