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From Site Selection magazine, January 2023

Life Sciences Like Ireland

Medtech in particular takes a fancy to the island, where two major companies alone employ more than 8,000.

Medtronic’s Hugo™ system — a modular, multi-quadrant platform for soft-tissue robotic-assisted surgery that some say will rival Intuitive Surgical’s da Vinci system — continues to gain regulatory approvals worldwide and was used for the first time in Europe in early 2022.
Photo courtesy of Medtronic

by Adam Bruns

reland is on a roll: Since January 2021, Site Selection’s Projects Database has tracked more than 270 major corporate facility projects in Ireland, and 94 of them — including strong investment in the IT and services sectors — are creating more than 100 jobs each. Sixty of the overall investments (22%) are in the life sciences. Among the major investors over the past two years are such global leaders as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Boston Scientific, Eli Lilly and Co., Medtronic, Grifols and Horizon Therapeutics.

The medtech sub-sector alone employs 40,000 people at more than 300 companies in the country, according to IDA Ireland, which touts the comments of people such as Aidan O’Shea, vice president of medical device company Stryker’s Ireland and UK locations: “Innovation, game-changing technology and the opportunity to positively impact peoples’ lives are some of the reasons people love working with Stryker in Ireland,” he says.

Only about 4% of surgeries are done with the assistance of a robot. Teams around the world in the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific are working on R&D for Hugo. 

— Gary Jeanfaivre, Senior Communications Program Manager, Surgical Robotics, Medtronic

Stryker itself loves it so much its Irish presence includes more than 4,000 people across eight facilities in Belfast, Limerick and Cork. More is on the way: In August the company announced a new additive manufacturing facility at Anngrove in Carrigtwohill, County Cork. “In addition to housing Stryker’s manufacturing facilities, Anngrove is also the worldwide headquarters of the AMagine Institute, which is the center of excellence for additive manufacturing across Stryker,” the company said of the six-year-old Anngrove site.

The newly opened, 156,000-sq.-ft. facility creates capacity for 600 new jobs.

“The new facility and talent will continue to unlock new opportunities that were previously not possible, accelerate innovation globally and further support our mission to make healthcare better together with our customers,” said Stryker Group President Global Quality and Operations Viju Menon. “With our experience and proprietary technology, we are excited to impact more patients and drive growth with this additional investment. We are also pleased to expand our talent base in Ireland with engaging roles across a range of disciplines.”

“The expanded facility furthers the company’s four-decade commitment to Ireland and recognizes the strong ecosystem of universities, engineering talent and partners such as the IDA,” said then-IDA Ireland CEO Martin Shanahan, who stepped down from the post in October. (Mary Buckley is serving as interim CEO.) “It also builds on Stryker’s outstanding track record for innovation and shows the key role Anngrove plays in the company’s global additive technology research and development.”

Stryker invests in Ireland’s infrastructure too: The company together with IDA Ireland and Cork County Council recently opened a section of cycleway at IDA Business & Technology Park in Carrigtwohill that will form part of the Cork County Council-led initiative to develop an interurban strategic cycleway linking Dunkettle and Midleton. During the development of the cycleway, Stryker provided land and support for the newly completed section, which offers an alternative transportation route that aims to reduce car usage in the county.

The Anngrove investment comes even as EU statistics showed a slight drop in R&D intensity (R&D expenditure as a percent of GDP) in Ireland in 2021, while overall EU R&D investment climbed by 6% year-over-year to €328 billion (US$349 billion). But corporate R&D investment in Ireland is still strong: Among the projects in 2022 was a $20 million, 200-job R&D investment by Medtronic in Galway. Medtronic has been in Ireland for 40 years and is the only Ireland-based company among the Top 20 EU-based R&D investors in 2021, according to the 2022 EU R&D Scoreboard published in December. The company, like Stryker, employs more than 4,000 in Ireland across five sites in Galway, Dublin and Athlone. 

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


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