For years now, Ireland has been a rising star in the medtech industry. Learn how the ‘Emerald Isle’ offers a world of opportunity for those in medicine.
In the 1990s, numerous US medical multinationals found themselves relocating to Ireland due to the promise of favourable tax rates, starting a snowball effect that is still gathering pace today.
For years now, the country has been quietly leading a medtech revolution, establishing itself as a global leader in manufacturing, product development, digital innovation, and R&D.
Today, Ireland has around 450 companies delivering $12.6 billion in medtech exports to over 100 different countries around the world. In total, IDA Ireland — the foreign investment arm for the Irish government – supports around 1,600 multinational companies that employ around 275,000 people. A third of those companies have been in Ireland for more than 20 years, with some medtech and pharma companies, like Abbott’s and Medtronic, clocking significantly more.
And this is only the beginning. The country’s medtech sector has added more than half a billion US dollars in investment and financing since 2022 alone as its star continues to rise. We can look to recent investment announcements, such as Boston Scientific’s $100 million commitment to expand its Galway operations, as examples of a continued commitment to Ireland as a global hub for the medical device industry.
For medical companies that want to refocus their supply chains, or those looking to set up a base of operations, Ireland has ample opportunities to offer.
Ireland’s role in medtech today
Ireland’s foothold in the medtech industry is significant and growing, and it presents a great opportunity for those looking to collaborate, form new partnerships with suppliers, or relocate their business.
Today, 18 of the top 25 major medtech players, 10 of the world’s top 10 ICT companies, and 9 of the top 10 biopharma companies have a presence there. This includes companies like Pfizer, Boston Scientific, and Johnson and Johnson. And the work of these companies is having a significant impact on the global industry. As many as 80% of the world’s stints, 50% of its ventilators, and 25% of the injectable devices used by diabetes patients are all produced in Ireland.
Vitally though, the Irish medtech sector’s growth is not dependent on foreign investment. Roughly 80% of the companies in the sector are Irish-owned SMEs.
The next steps and new opportunities
Going forward, ongoing investments in innovation, R&D, and product development will continue to see this market grow as Irish companies look to diversify their offerings across the entire medical device value chain.
This landscape offers a wealth of opportunities. For one, with 42,000 people working in the field and a strong emphasis on education, the region has a deep prospective talent pool compared to many other European countries.
In fact, in 2023, the IMD World Competitive Yearbook ranked Ireland in second place in its global assessment of competitiveness, noting its labour productivity and efficiency, and the adaptability and flexibility of its workforce. These qualities are key to allowing companies in small open market economies like Ireland’s to compete on the global stage
For those that base their operations there, this presents an opportunity to close skills gaps that may exist within their organisation. But this proliferation of skills also means numerous opportunities to collaborate with other experienced professionals and companies.
Collaboration is a major focus of Ireland’s medtech industry, spearheaded by the new Irish Medtech Association strategy, which plans to drive collaboration and unite key players in the ecosystem – from startups and FDI multinationals to investors and key opinion leaders.
This drive towards collaboration will allow parties to share best practices and industry observations, and advocate for policies that are important for the growth of the sector.
One of the major reasons medical companies are investing in Ireland is that Ireland continues to invest in itself.
The country’s medtech sector has a high level of government support and outside investment, and a track record of attracting investment that dates back 50 years. Within the last few decades, various initiatives have seen the industry grow from just 50 companies in the 1950s to the 450 that exist now.
As well as regular, large investments in the industry, the Irish government has a 25% R&D tax credit for companies that engage in R&D, aimed at moving the industry forward and providing an incentive for companies to base their operations there. This is in addition to a 12.5% rate for companies with revenues totalling less than $750 million.
Regulations and legalities
Working from Ireland and engaging with suppliers based in Ireland can offer numerous benefits, but there are also some things on the horizon worth keeping an eye on.
The introduction of the European Medical Device Regulation (EU MDR) means manufacturers, representatives, importers and distributors of medical devices will soon need to know how to comply with a new set of regulations.
However, the transition period for these new rules has been extended, and they will not take effect until between 2026-2028, depending on the device type in question.
What the future may hold
The growth of Ireland’s MedTech industry shows no signs of slowing down. As medical care moves towards a trend of digital health and personalised medicine, we can expect Ireland to continue to be a global leader in medical technology solutions.
In fact, The Global Medtech Hub 2025 outlines the country’s ambitions to put the right support in place to shape the future of healthcare internationally.
For these reasons, the Irish medical industry is an incredibly strong prospect for those looking to set up a business base or partner with new companies.
If you’d like to learn more about a specific emerging market opportunity like this, or explore how The Smart Cube could empower your team with actionable category and market intelligence, speak to us today.