Invest Northern Ireland (Invest NI), the regional economic development agency for Northern Ireland, continues to support its vibrant Life sciences and Healthcare sector, which today consists of 250+ Life & Health Sciences companies that export globally.
Many of these home-grown businesses are already providing cutting-edge research, products and services to over 140 countries worldwide. Expertise ranges from precision medicine capabilities, which shorten timelines and decrease resource requirement to the pharmaceutical sector which has made tremendous strides in cancer, cardiovascular disease and cystic fibrosis biomedical research.
In addition to these capabilities, Northern Ireland expertise excels in next-generation data analytics, which supports clinical trials to the development of rapid molecular diagnostic tests. This is backed by 17 dedicated life sciences research centres with Northern Ireland consistently appearing in the UK’s top 10 locations for bioscience research.
Supporting these companies with their international growth strategies is a priority for Invest NI and Africa in particular, represents a significant opportunity for these businesses. The African healthcare market, for instance, is estimated to be worth $259 billion by 2030, driven by population growth, the changing nature of burden of disease, and the need to decrease the gap between demand for and access to quality healthcare for all. Key growth sectors, which align with Northern Ireland’s sectoral expertise range from pharmaceuticals and medical devices, diagnostic and digital health solutions through to hospital management systems and skills development and training.
Testament to this demand, there is a diverse range of Northern Ireland Life Sciences and Healthcare companies, which are active across Africa’s healthcare sector. These include businesses in the technology space with Blue Zinc for instance providing Smart Software for the health industry with PillpacPlus delivering medication management systems. On the medical devices front, companies such as HeartSine are distributing their advanced Automated External Defibrillators with TriMedika successfully developing a no-contact cost efficient thermometer called TRITEMP. These are but a few examples of how Northern Ireland’s expertise is being leveraged as a force for good in Africa’s evolving healthcare market.
To discuss the Continent’s key healthcare priorities, after a 2-year hiatus, the 11th annual Africa Health Congress returned to Johannesburg last month. The event once again brought together healthcare professionals from multiple disciplines to promote discussion and thought leadership on the advancement of healthcare in the region with the private sector particularly playing a pivotal role.
At this event, several leading Northern Ireland companies attended, including:
Randox Laboratories, which is globally recognised for its expertise in developing diagnostic solutions for hospitals, clinical, research and molecular labs, food testing, forensic toxicology, veterinary labs and life sciences. This company has been committed to Africa for many years with an office in market since 2001 and in 2021 its subsidiary business, Randox Toxicology, signed South African based Labotec as its local partner and supplier to sub-Sahara Africa. “It is evident that there is a demand for new and competitively priced medical technology solutions in Africa, especially in the area of lab testing and Randox can offer that which is why we have had a presence in the region since 2001.” Explains Ayman Abdel Karim Sales Team Lead – Africa, Randox Food Diagnostics & Toxicology.
CIGA Healthcare, which produces rapid self-testing diagnostics kits ranging from pregnancy tests to vitamin tests in addition to their own brand of blood pressure machines and thermometers. The company currently has distribution partners in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Zambia, Senegal, Ghana and Egypt.
Commenting on Northern Ireland’s commitment to Africa, Invest NI’s Urginia Mhlaba, Trade and Investment Advisor for Sub-Saharan Africa commented: “I am delighted that the Africa Health Congress returned and that Northern Ireland, which has a long-standing commitment to the Continent, had several innovative companies exhibiting their world class expertise across products, services and technology. It is testament to the quality of Northern Ireland’s dynamic healthcare sector that so many of its companies are actively working across Africa and supporting its healthcare institutions. I have no doubt that in the years ahead, we will see significant collaboration and knowledge share between Northern Ireland and Africa across the rapidly evolving Life Sciences and Healthcare sector."