Ireland’s medical technology industry gave itself a well-deserved pat on the back in Galway on 13 December 2012. And, man, there were a lot of backs to pat! Approximately 350 people donned their finest tuxedos and fanciest evening gowns to celebrate the winners of the Irish Medical Technology Industry Excellence Awards in the ballroom of the Radisson Blu hotel. Lake Region Medical Ltd walked away with the Irish Medical Technology Company of the Year award and Technopath Manufacturing was named the Emerging Medical Technology Company of the Year.
Lake Region Medical, an original development manufacturer of minimally invasive devices and components, capped a spectacularly successful 2012 with this award, having earned a Shingo Bronze Medallion earlier in the year. It is the only medical device manufacturer in Europe—and the only manufacturer in Ireland—to have received this prestitigous accreditation. (Read “Lake Region Medical Caps Banner Year with Top Prize at 2012 Irish Medical Technology Awards” for more about this remarkable journey into operational excellence.) The other finalists in the company of the year category were DePuy, Hollister and Stryker.
Technopath Manufacturing, a privately held company that manufactures quality control products for the IVD sector, earned the top honour in the emerging medtech companies category. Technopath products monitor the quality of hospital laboratory blood tests; the company anticipates that its products will reach 20% of patients globally in the next 24 months. Apica Cardiovascular, i360medical and neoSurgical Ltd were the finalists in this category.
The prestigious Medical Technology Outstanding Contribution Award was given to John O’Shaughnessy. Currently Chairman of Neuravi, a company developing a device to help doctors quickly treat stroke patients by removing lodged blood clots from the brain with its proprietary Stent Basket technology, O’Shaughnessy is also Chairman of Vistamed Ltd, Cambus Teoranta and Almotech Ltd. He was a founding director of MedNova Ltd, a company that pioneered the development of embolic protection and carotid stent devices from concept stage to final US FDA approval. MedNova was subsequently acquired by Abbott Laboratories.
In addition to honouring the accomplishments of individual companies, the event also presented an opportunity to celebrate the success of Ireland’s entire medtech ecosystem. The sector has shown remarkable resilience in an otherwise difficult economy. The statistics are well-known at this point: 17 of the top 25 global medtech companies are located in Ireland and the sector is an export star, logging more than €7.3 billion in exports annually. And the good news keeps on coming: medtech exports increased by 10% in the first six months of 2012 compared with 2011.
Long-term challenges will present themselves, of course. “We lack organised interactions with the clinical community . . . we do not have our Cleveland Clinic,” Paraic Curtis, Vice President, Endoscopy, EMEA, at Boston Scientific and outgoing chair of IMDA, told me during an interview prior to the ceremony.
Master of Ceremonies Bobby Kerr, chairman of the Insomnia Coffee chain, ubiquitous throughout Dublin, and a “dragon” on the Irish TV version of Dragon’s Den, spoke to a macroeconomic concern during his opening monologue. “I like to think of myself as a champion of SMEs, and I am disturbed by the challenges they face,” he told guests. “We need to change the entrepreneurial culture in Ireland . . . we need to allow people to fail gracefully,” he said, prompting many heads to nod in agreement.
In her opening speech, Sharon Higgins, Director of IMDA noted a more immediate problem. “I have said before that a year is coming when we won’t have a venue large enough to celebrate our accomplishments. That year is here.” Indeed, the ballroom was packed, with nary a space for one more banquet table. Talk about a good problem to have.