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Ireland is uniquely positioned to develop a biodiversity "cluster"

The Irish economy has benefitted richly from it's success in building a "medtech cluster", particularly in the north-west. The country's annual medtech exports exceed €12 billion annually, the sector employs more than 42,000 people and Ireland is Europe's largest per capita employer of medical device professionals.

The term "industry cluster" was initially coined by Michael Porter in his book "Competitive Advantage of Nations". In it he defines clusters as geographically concentrated groups of interconnected companies and institutions in a particular industry. The cluster effect creates synergies through creating a supportive environment for businesses within that cluster. Startups in particular benefit from the collective knowledge, specialized services, and a pool of skilled workers within the geographical proximity. This, according to Porter, contributes to a nation's competitive advantage in that industry.

As an island nation with a strong pool of academic resources devoted to the environment Ireland has a unique opportunity to gain an early-mover advantage in this emerging and rapidly growing global industry. A coordinated effort focused on biodiversity startups could yield similar benefits to those currently being enjoyed from the medtech industry.

What would be required to establish Ireland as a global leader? Some clues lie in the comments from Lorraine Eagleton, chief executive officer of Avem, a provider of marketing services to Irish medtech companies. Eagleton highlights key elements that drove the success of the medtech cluster. These can obviously be explored as a blueprint for a biodiversity cluster:

  • Innovation mindset, particularly through the growth of medtech R&D in Ireland to complement manufacturing.

  • Collaborative approach, such as through strong connections between medical device companies and the universities that are educating tomorrow's workforce.

  • Convergence potential between medtech, technology, and pharmaceuticals given Ireland also has strong tech and pharma industries. This convergence potential is leading to innovations in areas like digital health and combination devices.

  • Talent base for Irish medtech professionals in addition to an ever-growing number of people born outside the country who now call Ireland home.

What do you think? Could Ireland become a leader in biodiversity startups? Add your comments below.

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What are biodiversity startups and why do they matter?

From clean air and water to bountiful food sources and innovative medicines, biodiversity underpins the health of our planet and ourselves. Each species plays a vital role in the intricate web of life


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