£19m investment in ostomy R&D centre brings new jobs to Eakin Healthcare

Announcing the Eakin Healthcare investment in a £19m Ostomy Centre of Excellence at its international headquarters in Comber is the firm's chief executive Padraic Dempsey (second right) along with (from left) Dr Martin Crawford, director of development at Eakin; Dr. Vicky Kell, director of innovation, research and development at Invest NI; and Mary McAllister, finance director group accounting at Eakin Healthcare
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE family-owned Eakin Healthcare is investing £19 million in research and development (R&D) to establish an Ostomy Centre of Excellence at its international headquarters in Comber, creating 16 jobs in the process.

It will also enable the fast-growth company - which currently employs 650 staff and which has annual sales of £111 million - to add pilot lines including skin friendly medical adhesives and the creation of the next generation of ostomy pouches.

Eakin has specialised in the manufacture of ostomy and wound care products since its formation (an ostomy is a surgery procedure that creates an opening in the abdomen, changing the way that waste exits the body).

But after acquiring Coleraine device manufacturer Armstrong Medical in December 2020 it has branched into the critical care, perioperative and neonatal respiratory and anaesthesia market.

Eakin's products are currently available in 60 countries and it has employees spanning across nine countries including France, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan.

Chief executive Padraic Dempsey said: “The patient has always been at the heart of everything we do. As we have an aging population with more chronic conditions, our purpose continues to be ensuring that we help people to live as normal a life as possible.

“Our new Centre of Excellence will support us to achieve this by developing life enhancing products which will support people who have had stoma surgery globally to lead a life with confidence and dignity for many years to come.”

Invest NI has offered the company financial backing towards the latest R&D project, and Mr Dempsey added: “We are extremely grateful for its partnership and support.”

Dr Martin Crockard, director of development at Eakin Healthcare, said: “An important aspect of the Ostomy Centre of Excellence is collaboration with our excellent local universities and further education colleges, the regional City Deal initiatives and Northern Ireland's renowned small to medium businesses, particularly in engineering and support services.

“These links will increase our knowledge base, driving innovation and agility to provide competitive advantage while, crucially, supporting Eakin's desire to create products that meet the complex needs of our customers across the world.”

Dr Vicky Kell, director of innovation, research and development at Invest NI, added: “This announcement secures the future of Eakin as a home-grown pioneer in ostomy healthcare, while simultaneously enhancing Northern Ireland's reputation as a global centre of innovation in engineering and healthcare.

“The economic benefits of R&D within key growth sectors such as advanced manufacturing and life and health sciences are recognised within the Department for the Economy's 10x Vision. As we seek to grow our local economy, investments such as this are vital.”

Eakin Healthcare Group's turnover for the 2021-22 financial year rose from £102m to £111m, and the group's workforce rose from 552 to 652. It posted a bottom-line profit of £14.2m.