The Cleveland Clinic has reportedly taken its Innovation Alliance international by establishing a partnership with — and making its first outside-the-U.S. venture investment in — an Ireland-based medical innovation company.
Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny was in Cleveland on Friday and reportedly announced this weekend that Dublin-based company i360medical has joined the Clinic’s Innovation Alliance, a network of collaborative institutions that already includes North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, MedStar Health, Promedica and Notre Dame.
A spinout of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, i360medical was formed earlier this year to be an “innovation enabler,” a hub with clinical, technical, business and regulatory expertise to help companies develop and commercialize new ideas.
For the Clinic, the company gives its other Innovation Alliance partners and spinoffs a connection in Europe. According to i360medical, it will offer the Clinic’s U.S. partners assistance with development, clinical trials and commercialization in European markets. The partnership will also give the Clinic access to Ireland-based medical startups.
“i360medical is wonderfully positioned to help us and our Alliance partners engage in the European markets,” said Chris Coburn, executive director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations, in a news release posted on i360medical’s website.
According to the release, the Clinic will also make a financial investment in the company, the first investment of its kind for the Clinic outside of the U.S. That’s been a long time coming, as the Clinic first struck a collaboration deal with the Royal College of Surgeons in 2009.
Despite the country’s economic meltdown a few years ago, Ireland’s medical industry remains a key player in its economy. Ireland has the highest concentration of medical device companies in Europe and also hosts operations of some of the biggest U.S. firms including Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX), Stryker (NYSE:SYK) and Medtronic (NYSE:MDT). A number of pharmaceutical companies also have operations there including Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Abbott and Johnson & Johnson.
“I think the great beauty of Ireland in this category is that you can get your arms around it,” Coburn told the Irish Times. “It’s a 4.6 million population (and) you can get across the country in a couple of hours, so a single entity like i360 has the chance to have a national impact.”
A representative from the Clinic couldn’t be reached to field questions about the Clinic’s continued interest in Ireland, but comments Coburn made to The Plain Dealer hint that this is just the beginning. “We’ve been very active in Ireland the last half-dozen years,” he told the newspaper. “We have been doing lots of technology collaboration. The foundation is set and we expect to grow it. Ireland is the gateway to Europe.”