Billions of dollars of venture capital investment continues to be pumped into biotechnology and medical devices firms - marking medical technology out as one of the most heavily invested sectors in the world. As home to an array of indigenous and multinational medtech firms, Ireland stands to benefit from that ever-growing interest.

"Currently the medtech sector is enjoying some pretty impressive growth - the most robust growth since the financial recession," said John Babitt, EY's Global Medtech Leader. "Growth last year was about 5 or 6%, this year is forecast to be right around that 6% number as well."

However there are plenty of other countries competing for the same business - not least the US. "Tax reform was structured to make the US more competitive, so I think that it was long overdue and now that will be a consideration," he said. "As you look at Ireland and the competitive dynamics; those large companies are still going to be looking at where they place their headquarters in Europe and where they do all of their manufacturing for the European markets", he said. He added that due to Ireland's existing infrastructure of people, facilities and know-how, the country is going to remain a very competitive environment.

According to Mr Babitt, Ireland is a serious player in the medtech scene, with clusters of high-growth businesses in various parts of the country. "It's a formidable player and that's one of the reasons why the Medtech Strategist Innovation Summit is on in Ireland," he said. "It supports approximately 30,000 jobs here and about 450 companies, which is up from about 200 or so just four years ago, so it is a very robust sector."

Mr Babitt described Galway as one of the epicentres of medtech innovation in Ireland, with a mix of big players and start-ups developing new treatments. Overall, though the industry is dominated by the big players who have the experience and scale to navigate the difficult path that is medicine. But Mr Babitt said that smaller start-up firms certainly play an important role in the sector too. 

"It is led by large companies that do dominate the landscape but there's an interesting ecosystem that does rely quite heavily on innovation outside of those large corporations," he said. "Entrepreneurial companies that develop new technologies, bring those technologies to market and then ultimately are incorporated into those larger corporations to go to market on a global basis - and so they're very reliant on the likes of the Irish entrepreneurial system," he added.

MORNING BRIEFS - The owner of clothing retailer Penneys has announced a slight rise in revenues and profits in the 24 weeks to the 3rd of March. Associated British Foods took in £7.4 billion in revenue - up 2% - while its pre-tax profit rose 1% to £628m. Sales at Primark - which is what Penneys trades as outside of Ireland - rose 8% overall - though unseasonably warm weather in October and the heavy snow in March meant that like-for-like sales fell by 1.5%.

*** Video streaming service Netflix published first quarter results last night, with subscriber numbers and revenues at the firm rising significantly. Netflix had 125 million members at the end of March, up more than 26 million compared to the same period of last 2017. That pushed revenues at the firm 40.4% higher over the year to $3.7 billion

*** China has posted better-than-expected GDP growth in its first quarter, with the country's economy expanding by 6.8 percent in the three months. That was fuelled by strong consumer demand - though there are concerns about rising debt levels in the country.

***  JD Sports Fashion today reported a more than 25% jump in headline pretax profit in the year to February. JD Sports said profit before tax and exceptional items rose to £307.4m as revenues jumped 33% to £3.16 billion. JD Sports operates around 27 stores in Ireland - including a number under the Champion Sports brand, which it acquired in 2011.