Ireland – an attractive location for MedTech sector

When it comes to positioning itself as a major player in the global medtech market, Ireland has made significant progress.  The country is one of the top 6 hubs for medical technology worldwide.

Ireland is home to some of the top medical device companies in the world, such as Medtronic, Johnson & Johnson and Stryker. Every year, Irish medtech companies export goods valued at approximately €13 billion. The country has over 300 medical device companies based here, ranging from multinationals to start-ups while employing over 45,000 people in this industry. One in five of those working in the sector are employed directly by Irish-owned medtech companies. Europe’s premier cluster of medical devices companies is based in the Galway region of Ireland. 

Infographic. Top 20 Medical Device Companies Based on 2020 RevenueTop 20 Medical Device Companies Based on 2020 Revenue

Why is Ireland an attractive location for MedTech?

In Ireland, medtech innovation is being fuelled by university research, government-supported R&D facilities, and commercial partnerships. A total of 14 industry-led technological centres focus on fields like to connect health and composites and pharmaceutical manufacturing, while incubators and accelerators are bringing ground-breaking innovations to reality.  

The MedTech sector also benefits from Ireland’s high ranking globally in terms of the employability of university graduates. The flow of skilled graduates is delivered through Ireland’s universities and the institute of technologies, but it is the close cooperation between industry and academic institutions that ensure the evolving skill needs of the sector are constantly met. This close work between MedTech, Education, and Research sectors reinforces the importance of exchanging of technology and ideas, which in turn helps drive growth in research and development. 

Highly Qualified Personnel  

Ireland received high marks from the IMD World Competitive Yearbook 2021 for its workforce’s accessibility to trained personnel as well as its adaptability and flexibility. Ireland also has certain inherent advantages; it has Europe’s highest increase in the population of working age. In essence, Ireland offers a rising population of individuals who have the skills they need or are eager to gain them, which is a powerful appeal for any firm when deciding where to invest. 

Accessibility to Europe 

Companies that base their manufacturing operations in Ireland are more conveniently located to access the European market. This market, which is still the second-largest in the world for medical products, is crucial for multinational corporations. For American-based businesses, this is especially important because it gives them a foothold in a market that is important to them. A base like this within the European Economic Area also means that there is freedom of movement for workers from other members, allowing businesses to access talent across Europe as needed without the need for work authorization or visas. 

Cluster Effect  

Medical technology is evolving, making equipment more complex. It is increasingly common for various specialized businesses to collaborate to create items using “combination technology” that no one company alone could. Over 25% of Ireland’s MedTech companies currently have a shared service mandate to encourage such co-working, which is desirable due to geographic proximity and the potential to collaborate with local partners on such initiatives. These circumstances provide the best foundation from which a talented person might start a fruitful and satisfying career that has real lasting power. 

Superior Quality & Reputation 

Over the past few decades, Ireland has demonstrated its dedication to the medical technology sector, and the country and the sector have a solid working relationship. Therefore, although competitors may emerge in one or two of the aforementioned sectors, they cannot compete with Ireland’s history and its stable, trustworthy, and alluring reputation in the global MedTech market. 


In addition to the government’s initiatives to entice industry through its tax environment, organisations have been set up to offer targeted assistance and support to businesses wishing to migrate to Ireland, or for new businesses looking to start-up here, such as IDA Ireland (Industrial Development Agency). 

Irish Exports

Around 8% of all Ireland’s exports is medical device equipment. Ireland is the second-largest medical equipment exporter in Europe, coming second to Germany. Ireland supplies items including contact lenses, stents, diagnostic tools, and prosthetic joints. The industry is still developing, increasing its capacity for innovation, digitisation, and next-generation technology. 

Ireland produces four out of every five stents used worldwide. Here are made a third of the contact lenses used worldwide as well as half of the ventilators used in acute hospitals. Injectable medical equipment developed in Ireland is used by more than 30 million patients with diabetes. 

The Irish government has identified the medical technology sector as one of the key drivers of industrial growth for the future and provides a wide range of support to encourage and foster this growth. The medical technology industry in Ireland is changing from being prominently manufacturing to being more complex and driven by R&D. It now involves intensive collaboration between a broad range of partners, including research institutions, clinicians, manufacturing companies, and government agencies. Ireland is well placed to capitalize on the growing global market for medical technology products and services. The challenge is to continue to develop and integrate the broad range of strategic competencies and support systems that will enable this island to compete as a mature, high value-added economy, with innovation at its core.  

“The medical technology sector is essential to saving and altering lives. Ireland’s global medtech cluster can increase its position internationally and help shape the future of healthcare provided the correct policies and supports continue to be put in place”. 

— Micheál Coughlan, Managing Partner of InterSearch Ireland & Global Head of the Life Sciences Practice Group InterSearch Worldwide 

Top MedTech Hubs

Ireland is one of the top six global medtech hubs, competing with Minnesota, Massachusetts, and California in the US and Israel and Germany. 

About the author – Micheál Coughlan

Portrait of Michéal CoughlanManaging Partner of InterSearch Ireland Micheál joined the InterSearch Worldwide Board of Directors in 2017. He began his career with InterSearch Ireland in 1996, becoming Managing Partner in 2010.

He is the initiator of the InterSearch Life Sciences & Healthcare Practice Group, supporting clients and candidates within the pharmaceutical, medical technologies, and healthcare sectors.

He has worked with a variety of organizations designing and implementing recruitment strategies for leadership and management appointments. Many of these assignments involve multi-country searches.

Micheál joined the Academy team in 2013 where he is responsible for the training and development of talent within the InterSearch Worldwide organization.

Micheál holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce from NUI Galway and a master’s degree in human resources management from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate School of Business. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.


Ireland - an attractive location for MedTech sector

4 min

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