Ibec group unveils roadmap to grow medtech sector

Irish manufacturers must embrace technologies such as AI and 3D printing to remain competitive

27 January 2020

The next Irish government must invest in innovation and ensure patient access to medtech, finds the latest report from The Irish Medtech Association. Its Priorities for the next Government: Investing in Innovation, Investing in People report makes several government recommendations to ensure the future of Irish healthcare and economic growth.

The Irish Medtech Association is an Ibec group that represents the medtech sector. With the right policies, it believes Ireland can take a greater share of the global medtech market, which is forecast to grow to €530 billion by 2024. To support the continued growth of Ireland’s medtech community, it outlined key recommendations under three distinct pillars.

Health and patient access

To improve health and patient access to medical technologies, the report recommends ensuring the effective implementation of the new EU Medical Device Regulations; promoting regulatory convergence after Brexit and the recognition of CE marks; and making sure any Health Technology Assessment regulations are fit-for-purpose.




Enterprise and Innovation

To maintain the success Ireland has had with medtech in the past, the Association put forward several recommendations to encourage enterprise and innovation. It endorses embracing new technologies with advanced manufacturing; nurturing entrepreneurship and supporting disruptive innovation; advocating for tax policies that align profits with substance; and establishing Ireland as a pioneer for gender leadership in manufacturing.

Education and skills

As one of the top medtech employers in Europe, the report asserts that Ireland must build on its success by embracing education and skills more wholly. It recommends supporting lifelong learning for a world class knowledge economy and safeguarding the sustainability of the new apprenticeship programmes.

“We are calling on the next government to invest ambitiously in an advanced discrete manufacturing centre of scale by adding €30 million to the IDA-led centre, with a well-coordinated governance structure that includes industry, to help companies take new technologies from proof of concept to commercialisation,” said John O’Brien, chair of the Irish Medtech Association and CEO, S3 Connected Health.

To remain competitive, O’Brien said Irish manufacturers must embrace technologies such as AI, data analytics and 3D printing. Plus, they must “provide access for professionals to these technologies to ensure that they are equipped to embrace industry 4.0.” 

Changes in EU regulations could jeopardise Ireland’s position as a top European location for medtech investment and employment, O’Brien warned. “A high bar is set for manufacturers to demonstrate safety, efficacy and clinical benefit for medtech products to get to market. This is strengthened under the EU Medical Devices Regulation, but over the past two and half years while industry has been preparing for the biggest regulatory change in over two decades policymakers have failed to ensure that the regulatory system is ready for tens of thousands of life transforming technologies to transition under the 26 May deadline.”

While Ireland has been chosen by many FDI multinationals as a gateway to the EU market, O’Brien said that: “A lack of predictability under the EU Regulations and increasingly favourable regulatory regimes in other markets such as the United States is undermining this position.”

As such, the Association is “calling on the next government to work with the EU to conduct a ‘readiness check’ to identify and prioritise the main implementation challenges. Additionally, policymakers must work with the EU to maintain access to life transforming medical devices certified in the UK and avoid regulatory divergence after Brexit.”

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