US medical devices company Edwards Lifesciences is planning to locate a major new €80m manufacturing plant in the midwest, which could employ 600 people after 2020.

The company, which has several global manufacturing locations, makes heart valves which facilitate minimally invasive hospital procedures, instead of open heart surgery.

The company will initially employ 60 people in various functions such as production, engineering and professional management at its site in the Shannon free zone.

However, it plans on building a specially designed plant to manufacture delivery components for its transcatheter heart valve therapies, to guarantee growth and reliability of supply for its global operations.

It is currently looking at three sites in both Limerick and Shannon.

The company says it will begin recruiting in June, and chose the midwest because of the availability of a talented workforce with expertise in medical technology.

IDA CEO Martin Shanahan said the decision by the company is a vote of confidence in the region and Ireland as a location for high end medical technology and life sciences manufacturers.