€42m centre needed to safeguard growth of Medtech sector

The Irish Medtech Association, the Ibec group that represents the sector, has called on Government to invest €42 million in an advanced discrete manufacturing centre of scale in Budget 2019 (see attached report) to safeguard Ireland’s manufacturing future.

The group has highlighted the major R&D and innovation gap in Ireland in the area of discrete manufacturing (production of distinct items, such as medical devices). There’s significantly less state-funding beyond the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 3 where analytical and experimental critical function and/or proof of concept has been established. More is needed at TRL 5-7 level where integrated technological components can undergo testing, notably in a simulated environment and operational environment, in centres like Tyndall (ICT), NIBRT (biopharma), and Teagasc (agri-food), but capable of being at the cutting edge in medtech.

Irish Medtech Association Chairman and Stryker Neuro, Spine, ENT & Navigation VP R&D David Tallon, said: “This R&D gap is a threat to sustainable growth of Ireland’s global medtech hub. Investing in an advanced manufacturing centre of scale is essential to level the playing field with competitor economies. Neighbours with strong manufacturing industries have successful track records with major centres driving business-to-business collaboration to help companies move from the prototyping and manufacturing to commercialisation in operational environment.

“Growing our R&D and commercial capabilities will take the Irish manufacturing industry to the next level, moving beyond manufacturing excellence. The latest Irish Medtech Association survey on commercial capabilities revealed that a third of FDI multinationals planned to either introduce or expand their commercial activity in Ireland, with 66% to do the same with marketing. By driving innovation in near to market products with the right facilities, we can safeguard Irish manufacturing and put medtech businesses a position to expand product portfolios to deliver better health outcomes for patients.”

Irish Medtech Association Director Sinead Keogh said: “In the face of global economic uncertainty, investing strategically in an advanced manufacturing centre of scale should be a government priority in the upcoming budget. The Irish Medtech Association are amplifying calls by the IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland for a centre with a physical presence, with the latest technology to make sure Irish discrete manufacturing is at the cutting edge, with a talent pipeline that doesn’t get cut-off from the latest equipment and essential skills development.

“Manufacturing is the second greatest employer in Ireland with 230,000 people working across 4,000 businesses which accounts for nearly a quarter of economic output. But our nearest competitor, the UK has already seen the value of investing in advanced manufacturing with an annual budget of 100 million for the Catapult centres already reaping results. For every 1 of government funding, the UK economy is seeing a net benefit of 15 with growth in the industry and jobs added.

“With Brexit jeopardising Britain’s economic stability, manufacturing has become a strategic priority. We already lag behind the US which invested nearly €100 million, in 2016, and behind Germany with the Fraunhofeer Institutes having a total annual research budget of €2.3 billion last year. While the newly announced Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, of €500 million from Government, is expected to foster partnerships between enterprise and research partners, it is no substitute for a physical centre where businesses can collaborate in a cutting-edge demonstrator environment. Now is the time for the Irish Government to bridge the innovation gap by investing €42 million in an advanced manufacturing centre or risk Ireland’s reputation as a location of choice for global manufacturing.”