BaileNuachtCartlann Aitheasc agus Preaseisiúintí

Speech by the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen T.D. At the official opening of the Innovative Medical Technology Showcase on Wednesday 6th October 2010 at 1pm


A Chairde,

Tá áthas orm sibh ar fad a fheiceáil anseo inniu ag oscailt oifigiúil den chéad ócáid de Léiriú Teicneolaíochta Leighis Nuálach IMSTA. Údar misnigh is ea an chruthaíocht agus an nuálaíocht atá léirithe anseo ag comhlachtaí atá bunaithe in Éirinn agus iad ag forbairt agus ag cruthú teicneolaíocht leighis.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to be here today to perform the official opening of the first Innovative Medical Technology Showcase.

A Showcase like this gives all of us an insight into the devices and equipment currently available, and how they can improve medical diagnosis and treatment.

I want to thank Justin Carty, the Executive Director of IMSTA for inviting me here. I congratulate all those involved in bringing this project to fruition.

The medic*al technologies industry is hugely important to Ireland's economy - with sales in excess of €6.8bn last year, an increase of 9.3% on 2008.

The fact that this sector has continued to grow despite the global recession is very encouraging.

The Irish economy is going through a severe adjustment and some further difficult decisions lie ahead.

However, there are also reasons to be confident about the future.

Our exports are performing exceptionally well, climbing by 8% between June and July,

We continue to attract high levels of Foreign Direct Investment and the IDA has a strong pipeline of investments.

The medical technology sector has a particularly important role to play in this process of economic recovery.

Ireland is already recognised as a centre of excellence in medical technologies with a strong mix of start-ups, high growth SMEs and large multinationals located here.

In fact, nine of the top ten global companies have a manufacturing base here. This gives us a Medical Technologies cluster comparable to those in the US.

We now want to build on that by establishing Ireland as an innovation hub for medical technologies.

This is in line with the vision of the Innovation Taskforce which sets out a strategy to position Ireland as a Global Innovation Hub.

We want to make Ireland;
the best place in Europe to turn research and knowledge into products and services;
the best place in Europe to start and grow an innovative company, and
the best place in Europe for research-intensive multinationals to collaborate with each other and with clusters of small companies.

This is ambitious. But we need to remain ambitious for this country and what we can achieve.

We are continuing to invest heavily in R&D, while placing more emphasis on links between higher education and enterprise.

We will remain a great place to do business, welcoming investment from abroad and making it easy to start and build a company.

We have launched the €500m 'Innovation' Fund to attract leading international venture capital companies to locate here - and will be announcing the first investment under the Fund later this week.

The medical technologies sector is central to our plans and we want Ireland to become a global player in some key areas.

On Monday I spoke at a business forum on IT for Health Care in Brussels and made clear that Ireland is open for more research and investment.

I greatly welcome the new initiative launched by Máire Geoghegan-Quinn today to remove obstacles to innovation across the EU. This Flagship initiative will mobilise greater venture capital and strengthen Europe's research system. There will be a renewed effort to establish a single European patent, which I know would be particularly welcome to the MedTech.

We will seek to ensure that there are good opportunities for collaboration with the HSE to build excellence for the benefit of Irish patients as well as industry.

This event gives me a lot of confidence in the potential, not just of the MedTech sector, but of the Irish economy as a whole.

We have great talent, we have great strengths and we are utterly determined to emerge from the current international economic crisis with a strong and sustainable economy.

We are dealing with a uniquely difficult set of circumstances in a serious and determined way. We have made significant adjustments in spending, and are committed to substantial further savings in the coming years.

Last week, brought clarity to the banking situation. There is no arguing about it - the costs involved are serious, very serious.
But they are manageable. Getting banking back on track is an indispensable step in our journey to economic recovery.

So too is restoring sustainability to our public finances.

Restoring stability to the public finances and fixing our banks is not, of course, the full story of Ireland's path to recovery. On the contrary, our future is based on developing to the full our potential for sustainable growth.

That arises not just from the quality and skills of our people and the flexibility and resilience which they have shown over the recent past. It also derives from the strong competitive base established in key sectors of the economy, through overseas investment and our own, vibrant indigenous companies. In key developing sectors, like pharmaceuticals and software, and in core industries like food, we have a strong enterprise base whose export performance, even in these difficult times, has been world-class.

Through investing in our infrastructure, strengthening our R&D capacity and developing new policy frameworks to create the best conditions to establish and grow businesses, we can face the future with confidence.

By highlighting the importance of innovation, by creating better access to venture capital, by recognising the opportunities to create whole new industries as technologies converge, and by linking our universities and research institutions with the business community in new and dynamic ways, we are creating the conditions for growth; growth which will not only help us to manage our fiscal adjustment, but to generate the jobs which must be at the heart of our economic and social agenda.

We are facing the immediate challenges, and making the urgent adjustments, with a very clear focus on the path to recovery and on creating the basis for our prosperity into the future.

This Showcase lets us all see some examples of what can be achieved in this country.

I congratulate everyone involved in organising this event, as well as all those involved with the companies and products on display.

I wish you every success with the event and hope it provides inspiration to many others.

Thank you.