A lot of companies lately have been heading over to the emerging Chinese, Indian, and Brazilian markets to set up research & development (R&D) and manufacturing facilities. This is usually a smart move for large companies because they can benefit from lower manufacturing and labour costs while having convenient access to these large and fast-growing markets.

But maybe there's something to be said for investing in facilities in Europe as well, especially for small- to mid-sized companies. The emerging markets come with a variety of barriers, including complicated distribution networks, compliance issues, and cultural differences. As a result, it might be better for smaller companies with fewer resources to stay closer to home, a sentiment that was brought up by medtech CEOs at the OneMed conference in San Francisco. Given the depressed economies in Europe, now could be the perfect time to establish facilities in the region at a relatively low cost. In particular, Ireland stands out as an interesting candidate. Ireland has become a high-tech hub over the last 20 years and has a young and highly educated population already fluent in English, making it easier to communicate with the global scientific and commercial community. Similar to other European countries, health care is covered under a public system, which means that potential employers face less of a burden in terms of paying for employee benefits. Finally, Ireland's location offers easy access to the large and lucrative European market and eliminates the need to navigate cultural differences.

One company seems to have already caught on to this trend. Cook Medical has recently announced that it plans to invest $20 million in its Limerick, Ireland location, which will be the key site for R&D on the Zilver product line. The new Zilver PTX drug-eluting stent which is solely manufactured in the Limerick location shows very strong promise in Europe where it will be one of the key stent brands to be used in the femoropopliteal indication. Millennium Research Group predicts that the European femoropopliteal stent market (including France, Germany, Italy, and the UK) will reach a value of almost $110 million by 2016.

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