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US Special Envoy Joe Kennedy III joins Invest NI push to grow life and health sciences

Published on 26 September 2023

Invest NI launches US advisory board to offer expertise and insight and to help drive the growth of the sector.

Economic development agency Invest NI is investing in the growth of NI’s life and health sciences sector with the launch of a new advisory board.

The US Life And Health Sciences Advisory Board is bringing together 14 industry leaders from the US to offer “significant expertise and insight and help drive the growth of the sector”.

There is already a significant cluster of companies in the sector here, from pharma firm Almac in Craigavon to medical devices firms such as Axial3D in Belfast and Eakin Healthcare Group in Comber.

Brought together by Invest NI and NI Connections — Northern Ireland’s diaspora outreach initiative — each of the board members have connections to Northern Ireland and will aim to strengthen trade and investment with the US.

Joe Kennedy III, US Special Envoy for Economic Affairs, said: “I am delighted to offer my support to the Life And Health Sciences Advisory Board, which offers a unique opportunity for Northern Ireland companies to benefit from the knowledge and experience of some of the top professionals in the sector.

“The US is the largest export market for Northern Ireland life and health sciences companies, so it makes sense to nurture relationships between the two regions and promote mutually beneficial opportunities.”

A spokesperson for Invest NI said: “The new advisory board will help position Northern Ireland life and health sciences sector as world leading, promote collaboration between companies here and in the US, and highlight investment opportunities”.

The board will be led by Belfast-born Mark Goldstone, a partner at global venture capital firm Eckuity Capital.

He said: “The combined industry knowledge and experience of the board members make it a powerful instrument for advancing the sector and the Northern Ireland economy by championing Northern Ireland’s significant life and health sciences capabilities.

“The board is passionate about promoting Northern Ireland as a great investment location and a centre of innovation excellence.”

Mr Goldstone has more than 25 years’ experience in the healthcare industry after starting out as a pharmacist and climbing to his current position at venture capital firm Eckuity Capital, which invests in early-stage life sciences and health-tech companies.

Moira Loughran, a spokesperson for NI Connections, said: “The diaspora has the potential to play a key role in the Department for the Economy’s 10X vision.

“We are immensely fortunate that board members have committed their time to this exciting opportunity for Northern Ireland. Their motivation to participate is based entirely on a desire to share their extensive experience with a view to advancing the growth of the sector, thereby ‘giving back’ to Northern Ireland and the NI economy”.

Kathleen Hagan, founder of Hagan & Company, a Boston-based international marketing consulting firm, has also been appointed to the board.

Ms Hagan’s firm specialises in assisting early- and growth-stage companies in the life sciences and medical technology, software and analytics, automation and robotics. She is known for her expertise in international marketing, business development and government affairs.

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph following her attendance at the NI Investment Summit this month, Ms Hagan said: “The sector is growing faster than almost any other in Northern Ireland right now, so there is tremendous opportunity to grow the sector and make it even more global than it is now”.

Ms Hagan pointed towards local talent and growing global demand as key drivers for the future growth of life and health sciences.

She said: “There is this tremendous talent coming out of the universities in biomedical engineering and in biology, and there is the demand in the marketplace, because technology is revolutionising healthcare.

“Both the availability of talent and the demand in the global marketplace, not just the local marketplace, is what’s creating a kind of a cluster that has potential to be able to grow enormously.”

Ms Hagan added: “There is demand for more advanced medical devices. Or now that we have genomic medicine, [there is ] this tremendous need for data and high-performance data analytics. And so the global trends in both synthetic biology and artificial intelligence in the global life sciences market affect Northern Ireland as much as they affect anyone anywhere in the world”.

Mel Chittock, Invest NI’s interim chief executive, added: “Northern Ireland’s life and health sciences sector has experienced rapid growth in recent years fuelled by our world-renowned expertise in precision medicine, digital health and medical devices.

“The board members have built impressive careers, spanning many years, and this experience, combined with their knowledge and their connections, will be of significant value to our life sciences sector. The board will inform us of our life and health sciences international strategy, which is aligned to the Department for the Economy’s 10X vision.”

The Northern Ireland Investment Summit, which hosted around 200 investors from across the world, was an opportunity for health and life sciences businesses to showcase local expertise and talent.

CV6 Therapeutics, which is based at Queen’s University Belfast and develops drugs aimed at improving the lives of patients with cancer and inflammatory conditions, was one of those companies.

Also represented was Cumulus Neuroscience, a global digital health company focused on advancing neuroscience clinical trials and patient care through improved data.

Source: Belfast Telegraph (link opens in new window)