€7.9 billion medical device export sector dependent on engineers says new president

John O’Dea, CEO of Galway-based Crospon

John O’Dea, CEO of Galway-based Crospon

John O’Dea, CEO of Galway-based Crospon and new president of Engineers Ireland, has said that the health of Ireland’s €7.9 billion medical devices export sector is hugely dependent on the expertise and ready supply of skilled engineers.

Speaking at his first presidential address to engineers in Dublin, Mr O’Dea said the 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. “A central theme of my presidency will 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.”

Chairman of the Irish Medical Devices Association, Mr O’Dea also noted the growing value of the various titles of engineer and the increasing importance of continuing professional development (CPD ) in the profession. “Mandatory CPD to become a chartered engineer and greater regulation of the profession will 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. 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’.”

With 22 years’ experience in the medical device industry, Mr O’Dea has overseen the successful launch of eight electronic medical device products in the past fourteen years. He co-founded Caradyne, an Irish respiratory medical device company in 1998, which was selling products in 30 countries prior to its acquisition by Respironics Inc in 2004. In the past 20 years he has held R&D management positions in Nellcor Puritan Bennett and engineering positions in Digital Equipment Inc and in Dataproducts Inc. Prior to founding Crospon, he served as general manager of Respironics Ireland. O’Dea is a named author on eight issued US patent families.

He is also Adjunct Professor at the School of Engineering and Informatics at NUI Galway where he is also Chairman of the External Advisory Board for the Irish Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI ).

He holds Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Electronics Engineering all from University College Dublin, and an MSc in Clinical Research from NUI Galway.

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