Case Study | Apica Cardiovascular

Ireland is at the heart of operations for Apica

Apica CardiovascularApica Cardiovascular is a pre-revenue medical device company commercialising technology for placing valves in the heart for treating structural heart diseases. US native Jim Greene, CEO, has 23 years’ experience in the sector, spanning start-ups and multinationals.

Jim Greene, Apica Cardiovascular
Jim Greene, CEO, Apica Cardiovascular

The pitch

Apica’s technology has completed the proof-of-concept stage. Should the imminent clinical trials go well for its initial product application, Apica may well become an attractive acquisition target for other medical firms. The company’s core technology has a range of applications for delivering therapeutic devices to the heart and improving patient healthcare.

Apica was acquired in July 2014 for a direct sum of US$35 million and potential future sales and clinical targets of up to US$40 million, by Thoratec Corporation, a global leader in device-based mechanical circulatory support therapies to support, save and restore advanced heart failure. The Apica team based at facilities in Ireland and the United States will transition to Thoratec, under the conditions of the new agreement.


Why Ireland

For its move to commercialisation, Apica established operations in the incubation centre at National University of Ireland Galway. “We’re not a US company based in Ireland, we’re an Irish company, started with Irish funding as well as overseas investment. We’ve developed in the EU, we’ll manufacture within the EU and we’ll distribute and sell within the EU,” Greene declares, citing Ireland’s strong connection with the US and the ability to perform large-scale product manufacturing here as key benefits of the location.

“The key aspect, especially for start-ups, is that it’s very important to be in a place where you can access all of the resources you need to do your job,” he says. “When you’re hiring, you’re hiring high-quality people. Irish people are creative and like to take a chance. A start-up works for them.”

Since coming to Galway, Apica has raised €3.75 million in funding from Irish VC Seroba Kernel Life Sciences, Enterprise Ireland and Triventures, a specialist medical devices investor based in Israel. Its outsourced manufacturing partner is Creganna, located nearby.

Greene says the tax credit whereby 25% of R&D money comes back to the company is another advantage. A further important factor was the ‘soft’ supports in setting up the business. “I got a very warm welcome … I’ve been connected to accountants, legal people and engineers, and been introduced to other CEOs who have been on the ground for years. While you’re an outsider, you don’t feel like an outsider. It’s a very close network of people. Even as potential competitors, there’s a very collegiate atmosphere,” says Greene.

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