The next Irish medical tech to watch
Founder Seamus Fahey is following in the footsteps of a former employer with the aim of creating a major medical device supplier on the west coast of Ireland.
Last month, ICS Medical Devices announced it would move to a new 16,000 square foot manufacturing facility to support its rapid growth.
Built from Ireland’s medical technology center along the west coast, ICS Medical Devices provides the design, prototyping and manufacture of catheter shafts for minimally invasive medicine. This expansion will add extensive general manufacturing space and cleanroom capability, as well as a customer innovation center, to its Galway headquarters.
All of this will support the supply of components that can make neurovascular, coronary vascular, structural cardiac and endoscopic products and therapies less invasive.
“These minimally invasive therapies push the boundaries of what is possible in medicine,” said ICS Medical founder Seamus Fahey. “Today we can replace a diseased heart valve with a single catheter in less than an hour, replacing traditional open-heart surgery that can take up to half a day on the operating table.”
“Medical tech start-ups need solutions that are on par with those provided by large contract companies, but at a scale, speed and level of quality that suits them”
The Galway start-up’s new headquarters will officially open this fall, allowing ICS to grow alongside its customer base.
“I founded ICS with the intention of providing our service solution to the medical device start-up community and small OEMs. As these companies grow, we evolve alongside the customer, the initial product development to full commercial solution,” said Fahey.
The company started in 2019, but Fahey said it has “technology, engineering capability and on-site expertise that belies our three years”.
“ICS Medical Devices (ICS) aims to enable our customers to get their medical device innovation to the patient as quickly as possible,” he said. “Once successfully launched in the market, we continue to support our customers with our ability to manufacture the approved medical device solution on their behalf. The success of our customers is always our priority.
He believes an agile start-up backed by high-level expertise and professionalism fills a gap for small businesses that need support in manufacturing medical technologies.
“Medical device startups and smaller OEMs have struggled to be served the way they need to be successful,” Fahey said. “They need solutions equivalent to those provided by large contract companies, but at a scale, speed and level of quality that suits them. That’s where ICS comes in. We’re closing that gap.
However, ICS Medical first had to convince a cautious industry that it was able to get partners across that bridge safely. “Our first challenge was getting early customers to believe in our ability to support them,” Fahey said. “It’s a big leap of faith for a medical device startup to entrust its critical milestones to a startup contract partner with no track record and operating on a smaller scale than the big vendors. Fortunately, some trust ICS Since then, we have proven the model and built our credibility in the medtech community.”
Thus, the start-up has already developed an international clientele in Ireland, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the United States.
“We established ICS in Ireland thanks to the thriving start-up community on our doorstep. However, Europe is where we are seeing our growth today,” Fahey said. “There is major activity from this this side of the Atlantic, what I see as a move away from traditional multinational-centric R&D and the predominance of U.S.-based innovators This growing market needs service providers with the skills and the technological capabilities needed to support their development paths, ideally from a European site.
“We’ve seen some great successes in the medical device industry locally and I see a huge appetite for more of that”
Fahey leads the company he founded as CEO. He himself has more than 20 years of experience in the medical technology industry, particularly in the development of catheters. This journey included 16 years with Creganna, Ireland’s largest medical device company.
“I led the contract design and development team at Creganna’s head office and during my time there we developed thousands of product concepts, including many ‘human first’ medical devices,” Fahey recalls. “My time there has been an incredible journey and learning ground over those years as Creganna has evolved into a huge global success story.”
Indeed, he joined Creganna when it was a team of 60 people in Galway and left after it was bought for 821 million euros by TE Connectivity, a company of 80,000 people.
Now Fahey hopes to see ICS Medical follow its own growth trajectory, scaling another major medical technology company out of Galway. And so far, the progress has been beyond even his expectations.
“We are now three years into our journey and we are progressing very well to the extent that we are ahead of our original business plan,” he said.
“Fortunately, we are generating revenue and using this success to date to generate additional investment in the business.”
As ICS Medical evolves, Fahey is keen to ensure the company does so responsibly. “We have established a dedicated supply chain function with a mission not only to seek economic efficiencies, but also to find the most environmentally sustainable solutions,” he said.
Overall, he said the “future looks positive” in what is a “thriving” Irish start-up scene.
“We’ve seen some great successes in the medical device industry locally and I see a huge appetite for more of that. There is a huge community of experienced industry veterans in Ireland who drive and lead innovation from initial clinical ideas to commercially successful products. This community has helped Ireland become a globally recognized medtech hotspot.
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