Centre of excellence
Med in Ireland, held in Dublin in October last year, is Enterprise Ireland’s largest medical technologies event. It provides a platform to showcase a wide spectrum of products from the Irish medical technology sector. It also plays host to more than 1000 scheduled partnering meetings between Irish companies and international guests.
The event promotes Ireland as a globally recognised centre of excellence in medical technologies – marking Ireland as the location of choice for the design, research and development, prototyping, manufacture and marketing of innovative medical products and services.
Ireland’s strength in this arena is based on skills availability, technical competency, operational excellence, regulatory track record, design and manufacturing, and dynamic leadership teams. Additionally, Ireland has a very strong sub-supply base with many indigenous companies becoming globally preferred vendors of choice for leading multinational enterprises.
Ireland also has a world-class research infrastructure, world-leading clinicians and growing industry-clinical partnerships. The symbiotic relationship between the clinical community, researchers and “They see a ‘need’ and they have a potential solution, but don’t know what to do with it, how to test it or they don’t have the time to work with it. So, we assess it to see if it is really a good idea and if there is a market for it. We then give them the tools – such as a team of academic staff, clinical that of private enterprise provides great opportunities both in terms of improving patient health and reducing healthcare costs, as well as driving enterprise development and job creation.
Irish govt support for research and innovation
Middle East Health speaks to Pat Breen, Irish Minister of State for Trade, Employment and Business about government funding for med tech research.
Minister Breen says the Irish Government sees research as very important for Ireland’s future.
“There are huge challenges in today’s world. Industry can’t stay still with the changes that are coming, particularly with digital technologies. You have to continuously upgrade and invest in Research and Development (R&D),” he said.
“We have spent a lot of money on our R&D facilities and initiatives, such as our research sites in Galway where we work with a number of US institutions and multinationals.” He said the Irish Government does give some fi nancial support, but pointed out that they also use fi nancial support initiatives, such as the European Union’s Horizon 2020. Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU research and innovation programme, with nearly Euro 80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020). This is in addition to the private investment that this money attracts. One of the aims of the initiative is to support more scientifi c breakthroughs, discoveries and world-firsts by taking great ideas from the lab to the market. Horizon 2020 is the fi nancial instrument implementing the ‘Innovation Union’, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe’s global competitiveness. Importantly, it is a means to drive economic growth and create jobs.
“R&D is extremely important, and I encourage continued investment in this sector because it promotes innovation,” said Minister Breen.
“The fact that we have this ‘Med in Ireland’ conference every two years – run by Enterprise Ireland – and with the 800 attendees we have this year, shows the level of interest in this sector and how highly regarded it is in Ireland.
“We compete well with the big med tech sectors in other parts of the world. We are very proud of this sector and the role it has played in our economic recovery.
“The med tech sector is worth around Euro 12.5 billion in exports. It employs more than 38,000 people. Since 2012 the sector has seen a 15% annual growth rate. And the fact that we have so many big brand names here in this sector is a good signal that Ireland is a good place to invest.”
He explained that when you have multinationals, such as Medtronic, Boston Scientifi c, Cordis, DePuy, Stryker, Covidien,Baxter, Abbott among others, you get a lot of smaller companies that will sub-supply these large companies. This expands the industry and promotes innovation.
“This is why our indigenous med tech sector is extremely important to us. It employs around 6,500 people,” he said. He added that Ireland is also proud of the connection between the Arab world medical sector.
“The connection is very strong and goes back to 2005 when the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland set up in Dubai. We have trained a lot of doctors [in the Arab world]. We continue to work with Dubai Health Authority. We participate in Dubai’s Arab Health expo each year. In 2017 we had a very successful show there with many contracts signed.”
Making the right connections
Tanya Mulcahy, the manager of Health Innovation Hub Ireland, speaks to Middle East Health about how they assist people, companies and healthcare professionals to bring to fruition their innovative ideas for improving healthcare.
Health Innovation Hub Ireland was formed by the Irish Government.
“We help by taking an innovative idea, figuring out if it is a good innovation, and then connecting the people behind it with the healthcare system or clinical setting to test their innovation.
“They see a ‘need’ and they have a potential solution, but don’t know what to do with it, how to test it or they don’t have the time to work with it. So, we assess it to see if it is really a good idea and if there is a market for it. We then give them the tools – such as a team of academic staff, clinicalresearch expertise, link them to Enterprise Ireland for funding or help them with IT expertise, to bring the idea through the whole process to commercialisation.” It’s a free service and the projects are generally quite short lasting from a few weeks to 12 months, she explained.
“We don’t provide funding for the project. We provide the people – our network of contacts – and we can assist with running the project. We are an intermediary, a neutral organisation. We see ourselves as a kind of match maker,” she said.
“Basically, we encourage innovation and enterprise, as well as help improve the healthcare system.”
Mulcahy gave an example of one of their successful projects. An Irish company called FastForm Medical – www.fastformmedical.com – had developed a polymer-based replacement for a plaster or resin cast used in orthopaedics, which needed to be tested and proved viable as a better solution to the traditional cast.
“What sets this product apart from other plaster casts, is that this can be reheated and remoulded. You can swim or shower with it and it can be dried with a blow dryer. You can take it off, heat it, remould it and reuse it. The big benefit of it – particularly in sports med rehabilitation – is that you can swim with it,” Mulcahy explained.
“They needed to demonstrate that it was being used in an Irish hospital by an orthopaedic surgeon who could check that it was as good as the standard resin cast and had additional benefi ts. We helped them with the study by introducing them to an orthopaedic surgeon and ran a study over six months comparing their product with the resin cast to demonstrate that it healed in the same way and had added benefits.
The product is now commercialised and being exported to the United States.
• Health Innovation Hub Ireland – http://hih.ie
Enterprise Ireland plays important role in stimulating Irish export trade
Deidre Glenn, Director, Lifescience & Food Commercialisation, Manager Lifescience sector, Enterprise Ireland, speaks to Middle East Health about the role the organisation plays in stimulating innovation and trade in the med tech sector.
Enterprise Ireland is a big organisation and plays an important role in Ireland’s economy. There are approximately 200,000 businesses in Ireland – about 5000 are clients of Enterprise Ireland.
“We only work with companies that have the ability to trade internationally and they are either manufacturing technology or service-type companies,” Glenn explained.
“Our role is to stimulate innovation and grow companies. We act as the lead agency in company creation in Ireland. We are the leading seed investor. We’re actually the biggest seed investor in start-ups in Europe. So, we fund funds. All our funding comes from the Irish Government.
“And, of course, from an innovation perspective we tap into the international funding that is available to drive projects, but as an agency our funding comes from government.”
She explained that there is a significantamount of money that goes directly into supporting companies, either in their innovation agenda, in their overseas agenda, in their leadership agenda, in their lean agenda. On the innovation side, Enterprise Ireland spends a significant amount of money funding innovative research and technology within Ireland’s universities and institutes of technology.
“So, we’re unusual as an enterprise agency in that not only are we here to support established companies, we also fund a lot of what we call ‘market-focused research’ within our universities, with the ambition of either starting new companies or developing technologies that are of relevance to the established company base.
“And that is unusual. People say why is an enterprise agency spending so much money funding research. But we’re funding industry-led research and market-focused research and ultimately, we’re doing it so that it’s going to impact on industry in Ireland either in new company formation or assisting established companies to get access to really innovative tech,” she explained.
“As an agency we’re a large organisation. The practical reality is that we have as many people overseas as we do in Ireland, if not more and that’s because it’s of critical importance to us that our companies are able to compete in a global setting and having people on the ground [facilitates this].”
“I believe this this quite unique as an enterprise agency. There’re many other enterprise agencies worldwide that do similar activities, but for us we’ve got people on the ground [around the world] to make the connections, to make the alliances and really to help our companies to sell on a regional basis,” Glenn explained.
“The companies that we deal with range from entrepreneurs that are starting up their companies through to what we call high potential start-ups through to established companies through to very large companies.
“A critical part of what we do is about bringing our customers to the market and, depending on the sector, there are very important strategic events that we prioritise. The Arab Health exhibition, for example, represents a key market and its a key target for our wider life science community, well beyond med tech.
“We prioritise this because we know that there is a demand from customers and partners in that region to engage with Irish companies and we’ve had some great successes there.
“We also do a lot of trade missions. The key point is about bringing our clients to the market where they can meet face-toface with customers.”
Engaging the patient
Oneview Healthcare specialises in patient engagement technology solutions. Middle East Health speaks to Patrick Masterson, the Group Chief Commercial Officer.
Oneview Healthcare is an Irish company based in Dublin. They trade in the Middle East as well as other global markets. The company started over 10 years ago delivering entertainment systems in hospitals and quickly realized that this piece of equipment in the hospital room is ‘very valuable real estate which can be used to deliver all sorts of services to engage the patient, reduce costs to the hospital, improve clinical work flow and ultimately deliver better outcomes for the patient’.
The system is built on the Oneview Core Platform which provides the foundation for all Oneview services and applications. Some of their key services that can be delivered to the patient include a care team console which allows clinicians to review patient information and status in a single view, and to engage patients with education, goals and messages. It also enables the provision of patient entertainment and serves as a platform to enhance communication between the patient and the care team.
“All our information is stored on the hospital server and delivered across the hospital IP network. In this way we can deliver any type of content to enhance patient engagement,” Masterson explained.
He pointed out that an empowered and engaged patient is more likely to respond to treatment and is less likely to present for readmission.
The system can be integrated with various hospital information systems from other vendors, such as electronic medical record systems, hospital administration systems, nurse call systems, billing management systems, meal order systems, etc.
“This integration ensures that what appears on the TV screen in the room is content specifically related to that patient in their language. This includes Arabic,” he said.
“Most patients want to be in control of their environment and this system enables that.”
Oneview provides the platform and can also provide the content. “Some hospitals prefer to provide their own content and we Patrick Masterson (left) and John Kelly of Oneview Healthcare can supplement this,” he said.
In the Middle East, Oneview is live in Mediclinic in Dubai. They have a base in Dubai and are active in Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
• For more information, visit: www.oneviewhealthcare.com
Identify the need, create the innovation
Middle East Health speaks to Dr Paul Anglin, Strategic Development Lead, Bioinnovate about their programme and its role in the med tech sector.
Bioinnovate is national programme in Ireland. It focusses on innovation.
The model they use is focused on combining the idea of ‘needs-led innovation meets entrepreneurship in a regulated environment’.
“It was adapted from the Stanford Biodesign Model. We are affi liates of the Stanford Biodesign Program which is the oldest practitioner of this type of model in the world,” Dr Anglin said.
“The traction with the model is that it is centred around ‘needs that require innovation’.”
Dr Anglin explained that this needsbased innovation is different to someone coming around and saying ‘this is my technology, this is what it does’ and then trying to identify a need for it.
This is a ‘tech push’ scenario – the innovation first and then one tries to fi nd the market, the need.
“We flip it around and say where is the problem? Where is the need? Is there a market opportunity associated with the need?
“We then set up multidisciplinary teams of 4 people – selected from technical, commercial, medical, law, IT, and commercial fields.
“We show them to how to do a ‘needs finding and observation’, and then we put them in the hospital for eight weeks so they can follow the entire path of patient care in the hospital,” he said.
“That’s the real differentiator of this approach. It’s the idea that you go in and fi nd problems. We have no interest in starting with a solution. We start with a team and identify a problem, or multiple problems and filter those problems down. Then when they start to find solutions, those are filtered down to determine whether they are viable by assessing the regulatory risks, reimbursement prospects, etc.”
Dr Anglin provided the example of Embo Medical, which was initially supported by Bioinnovate.
“They were part of our team and focused on cardiology in an interventional radiology setting. While watching a physician trying to embolise a blood vessel, they noticed the physician used multiple devices and saw that the procedure took a long time. They figured ‘surely there is a better way to do this’.
“So, they researched it. They talked to doctors around the world and in Ireland. They researched the market and the competitor landscape. They then started to develop solutions, checked the regulatory risks and then got commercialisation funding of Euro 2.8 million. They developed a new, safer, and more costeffective way of carrying out embolization procedures with a device they called a Caterpillar. They were acquired 18 months later for Euro 43 million,” he noted.
“They had identified a very clear need and provided an elegant solution.” He explained that Bioinnovate is funded through multiple sources with Enterprise Ireland being their primary sponsor. He said there are multiple programmes like this in the world, however what sets Bioinnovate apart is that they can recruit senior fellows with work experience who are well equipped to deliver a new company.
“Our recruitment is global. Our products are global. But the development is done in Ireland,” he said.
Bioinnovate is in its seventh year and has 65 alumni; out of those they have 25 technologies in development.
Revolutionary anti-microbial coating
Kastus Technology recently started marketing an innovative anti-microbial coating for ceramic and glass. Called Log4+ it has seemingly limitless application, is scratch proof and never wears off. Middle East Health speaks to John Browne, the Chief Executive Officer, about the product.
“Log4+ is an indoor light-activated antimicrobial coating for glass and ceramics. It’s a novel and unique product in that it uses indoor light and moisture in the air to disrupt the bacterial cell wall and kill bacteria. It kills both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, such as MRSA and fungi,” Browne explained.
“So, it has huge potential uses in healthcare environments,” he added.
Kastus Technology is a spin out from the Dublin Institute of Technology where the product was developed over almost 10 years and commercialised in the past four years during which the company raised fi - nance, registered patent protection worldwide and undertook external testing.
“It is a unique technology. The difficulty with getting antimicrobials onto hard surfaces is that they typically wear off or they leach harmful chemicals into the environment. Ours doesn’t. This technology is applied during the manufacturing process where it is spray-applied and then heated up to 1100°C in the case of ceramics. The anti-microbial coating is sintered – or blended – with the top surface of the ceramic or glass. So, they are super scratch resistant, and it never wears off. It’s unique in that you can’t see it. It’s very thin – just 5 microns thick,” Browne said.
Tests show that the product is extremely effective – resulting in the decomposition of organic and inorganic substances and offering bacteria kill rates up to 99.99%. The company has another complementary product – Kastus Metal. It provides both an anti-bacterial and anti-corrosion coating to metal. This product was launched at the Med in Ireland event in October.
“It’s very useful in architectural hardware, door handles, handrails, medical devices, etc,” explained Browne.
“There is a huge market for this and we’re seeing opportunities from healthcare to aerospace.”
It is still relatively early days for the company. They have set up a commercialization team and are looking to supply Log4+ to manufacturers of ceramics.
The manufacturers can simply apply it during the manufacturing process.
“We’ve designed it so it is relatively easy to apply. There is no additional capital expenditure required and no major additional production steps involved. This took us quite a bit of development time to be able to do this,” he said.
“Their products should remain commercially viable, so the chemical is inexpensive.
“The goal is to have this incorporated into the whole line of the manufacturer’s products. The early adopters are starting to see the benefi ts of this and we expect the rest will follow,” Browne said.
“We recently won the Irish Times Innovation Award for the product in the Life Science and Healthcare category. In addition, we won the overall award.”
Browne noted that the development process they used is a good model of what Ireland does so well in terms of developing innovative products through the universities and then commercialising them.
• For more information, visit: www.kastus.com
|Date of upload: 15th Jan 2018|
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