The health of Ireland’s €7.9 billion medical devices export sector is hugely dependent on the expertise and ready supply of skilled engineers, according to new Engineers Ireland President John O’Dea.
Speaking at his first presidential address to engineers in Dublin, the CEO of Galway-based medical devices company Crospon said that recent “disappointing” CSO data highlighted how dependent the Irish economy was on a vibrant export sector and how engineering was a critical platform in this regard.
Mr O’Dea, who is also Adjunct Professor at the School of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway and Chairman of the External Advisory Board for the Irish Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI), added that a central theme of his presidency would be to highlight the engineers’ role in contributing to the betterment of health.
“Engineers play a vital role in working with physicians to develop and mature ideas into commercial reality,” he said.
“In addition to the well-documented presence of over half of the top 25 of the world’s leading multinational medical device companies in Ireland, who all employ engineers, there are many emerging medical device engineering start-ups innovating in a variety of areas such as stroke management, cancer treatment, orthopaedics and surgery all across the country.
“As an engineer working in this sector, one can potentially affect the lives of many more patients than one could ever hope to encounter as a physician in medical practice. This is a critical sector employing 26,000 people and a key pillar of Ireland’s economy.”
The Irish Medical Devices Association Chairman also noted the growing value of the various titles of engineer and the increasing importance of continuing professional development (CPD) in the profession.
He added that mandatory CPD to become a Chartered Engineer and greater regulation of the profession would support excellence and standards within the industry.
“One important aspect of the revision of the EU Medical Devices Directive will be the requirement for a ‘qualified person’ in every medical device manufacturing facility, a requirement that already exists within the pharmaceutical sector.”
He explained that, subject to approval of amendments to the directive proposed by Engineers Ireland, the new directive could potentially see the title of Chartered Engineer lead to automatic presumed compliance with the requirement for a ‘qualified person’.