Ireland has made considerable efforts to draw medical technology companies to its shores. It touts a favorable corporate tax system, an educated and young population, and a dedication to building its medical device cluster.
In that vein, the country has launched a device research center in the coastal city of Galway. Bioinnovate Ireland provides access to hospital and healthcare settings while providing doctors, engineers, and business people with support to update and modernize healthcare technologies to make them better, safer and less expensive. The program offers entrepreneurship training and a start-up incubator. www.bioinnovate.ie
Program manager Paul Anglim says, “BioInnovate Ireland is actually modeled on the world-renowned Stanford Biodesign. It’s a program that’s much imitated, but ours is the only one that Stanford has accepted as an official affiliate which is a real testament to the quality of what we’re doing.”
BioInnovate fellowships are sponsored by a government organization, Enterprise Ireland, which provides €30,000 to each candidate. In the four years of its operation, BioInnovate Ireland has promoted ten technologies, one spin out company, one license, and three other companies in development.
Interest in the highly competitive program has grown. “We have a huge number of highly qualified potential BioInnovate fellows on our doorstep, but we also attract a huge number of candidates from outside which means the standards are always incredibly high in the fellowship,” Anglim says.
One of the key activities is for participants to go into hospitals to observe, ask questions and gather information in order to identify areas for improvement. BioInnovate’s goals are to ensure fellows are asking all the right questions before they attempt to get funding for an idea.
“People come out of that program with huge lists of clinical needs,” Anglim says. “The real work is in whittling down those needs. The aim of the program is for people to end up with ideas that are real contenders when it comes to the marketplace so the fellows really have to look at them from all angles.”
Anglim says participants should have a good sense of whether their business is a contender. Many have gone on to develop their ideas and are actively progressing to market.
Anglim says he is amazed at the response that Bioinnovate has gotten. “We have doctors on the program who, if their ideas are successful, will end up helping far more people than they could ever have dreamed possible when they were working as clinicians in hospitals. They will make more money too. That, to me, seems like something worth doing.”