Can you please introduce our readers to ProTek Medical?
ProTek Medical was founded in 1995 to serve a growing healthcare market by partnering closely with our customers in precision injection molding. Our first manufacturing activity involved GMP production of a drug delivery device. We subsequently added clean room injection molding capabilities and design support services to support the growing demand of our customers’ requirements.
Today, our philosophy is to work with customers at all stages of their product lifecycle. That means working with them at the innovation stage, through to product development and engineering—and providing a turnkey solution from concept to commercialization. We are more than just a manufacturer; we are a true lifecycle partner and add value to each project beyond our engineering expertise. The balance between the two sides of the business has served us very well thus far.
Injection molding is our core service offering, and the majority of our revenue is generated from value-added services based on injection molding. However, we view ourselves as a multidisciplinary company with a range of capabilities in areas such as design, quality, regulatory support and continuous improvement.
Our typical customer is a mid-to-large volume pharmaceutical or medical device company that requires engineering and design support at various stages of the development of their finished delivery device – from concept to commercialization.
ProTek recently completed the acquisition of AP Design, a Galway-based medical device design firm. What was the strategic imperative behind this move?
AP Design was a product development company with a great deal of healthcare experience. Integrating their business allowed us to enhance our development capabilities, and become much more involved with customers at early stages of the design process. AP also provided us with a location in Galway—a major medtech cluster in Ireland.
AP is one of a number of targeted acquisitions that we are going to be involved in over the next three-five years.
When considering an acquisition, we need to get to know the target market, their customers, their culture, and to ensure their strategy and value proposition is aligned to ours. Ideally, we will work with them on a project and get to know them on an engineering level as well—which is very important for us.
Globally, each life sciences cluster is at a different stage of development. The cluster in Ireland, for instance is an ideal location for indigenous med tech start-ups. Therefore, our acquisition of AP Design has extended our offering to help these companies develop and commercialize products. The maturity of the cluster will determine the type of acquisition we make.
In terms of expansion, Ireland is our primary focus, but we also plan to expand outwards to strategic locations across Europe and the U.S. China, too, is on our radar—but our emerging market strategy will take a much longer-term arc. Conversely, in the U.S., we have already identified a number of prospects and are looking to develop a physical presence in the market in about two years.
Our strategy is to partner with our customers intensely during all the stages in the product life cycle, from concept to commercialization. This was our strategy since the company was established nearly 2 decades ago and it is still our strategy today. Partnering our customers development allows them to leverage our extensive skill sets that are specific to the pharmaceutical and medical device market from design to volume manufacturing.
How would you appraise the level of government support offered to this organization?
The Irish state has been very good to our business and they have supported us whenever needed. My key comment is that Ireland’s government agencies are not just focused on financial rewards: they provide valuable services in other areas, such as international expansion. Through a strong network of overseas offices, they can provide a lot of support for us on the ground in markets like the UK, Germany, and the U.S.—helping us to understand and break into new geographies.
ProTek is increasingly looking to partner with pharmaceutical companies. Can you tell our readers more about this side of the business?
Broadly speaking, we work with life science companies that are involved in developing innovative delivery devices. Our expertise in the medical device sector—primarily in the minimally-invasive niche—has allowed us to start innovating with pharmaceutical companies.
Technological convergence between pharmaceutical and medical technology is really starting to ramp up. Pharma companies are now looking at targeted drug delivery, and they are leveraging existing minimally-invasive platforms to develop site-specific therapies. We are looking to help develop the devices that can realize site-specific drug delivery.
What makes you a partner of choice for the pharma sector?
As the pharma and medtech industries converge, our skill set compliments the core activities of pharma companies particularly in the development and manufacturing of site specific delivery devices. The combination of our unique skill sets in the innovation of the application of the drug and our customer’s skills in drug discovery and GMP manufacturing ensures that a highly effective solution is realized through a systematic design process and a highly compliant manufacturing process.
What part of your success would you attribute to your Irish roots?
The Irish environment has reaped strong influence and direction from the substantial investment over the years of the world’s largest healthcare OEMs. It is currently home to 8 of the top 10 healthcare companies worldwide and this has given us the opportunity to develop manufacturing scale, to innovate, and to invest in research and development, engineering, and technology.
Thanks to our origins in this high-tech market, we have always positioned ourselves as a high-tech company. That positioning has allowed us to break into mature markets such as continental Europe, and to position ourselves to support the activities of major pharmaceutical and med tech companies.
Where do you see ProTek in five years?
Following our recent acquisition and investment in design, we will become a much more substantial business by partnering with customers at a very early stage and having the capability to support them right through to volume manufacturing. I propose at least four times larger than we are presently. We will also be much more advanced in our internationalization, as our service offering is going to become increasingly solution-oriented.
Will that growth be driven by collaboration with the pharma industry?
Partnership with the sector will be a major target for us—particularly as life science industries continue to emphasize convergence. We have successfully delivered a number of projects to pharmaceutical companies that want to deliver their therapies using minimally-invasive technologies.
We have also begun to investigate the possibility of partnering with drug discovery companies—but that is a longer-term play.
How would you describe your management style? What kind of corporate culture do you try to proliferate at ProTek?
We believe that culture is very important, and that we should empower all of our staff to develop both personally and professionally.
We try to promote from within. We have a very active education program with many employees pursuing post graduate and under graduate programs in the local University in disciplines such as Engineering, Science and Business. We have a flat management structure that supports our employees and encourages innovative thinking in everything we do.
Part of the challenge in growing as a business is maintaining that sense of closeness as you grow bigger—and that is something we will look to very carefully manage in the future.
Do you have a final message for our readers around the world?
It’s all about innovation. In a converging healthcare environment, innovation is critical in enabling pharmaceutical companies to leverage the fantastic platforms that have been developed in the med tech space, to facilitate the provision of healthcare treatments that are increasingly local and site-specific.
We have developed the capabilities in-house to deliver that innovation to a number of pharmaceutical companies that are interested in convergence. We will continue to develop our offering, and help pharmaceutical companies to innovate—because today’s innovations are where the next generation of revenues will come from.