Green Card strategy under way, says Martin

20 Jul 2005

Development of a Green Card-styled strategy targeting skilled overseas workers is under way, acknowledged the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Micheál Martin at a press conference today where he announced a €53.25m investment by five blue-chip companies in research and development (R&D) covering the high-growth areas of IT, pharmaceuticals and financial services.

Martin said the scheme would be vital in terms of Ireland’s efforts to ensure available skills, particularly from PhD graduates from overseas as well as Irish universities, are there to ensure Ireland remains an attractive location for development projects. He added that a Discover Science initiative aimed at encouraging secondary-school students to choose science subjects at second and third-level level will be pivotal to the Government’s efforts going forward.

Xilinx, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Pfizer, Citigroup and Genzyme are investing a cumulative €53.25m in R&D operations across Ireland. IDA Ireland chief executive Seán Dorgan acknowledged that the state agency will be supporting the investments.

Xilinx revealed a R&D group that traditionally would have been earmarked for Silicon Valley will instead go to its Citywest Business Campus operation in Co Dublin due to the successful track record of that operation as part of a €7.5m investment.

The new high-level research operation will work in tandem with Xilinx Research Labs in the US. This is the first time that Xilinx has located a research labs operation of this nature outside the US and it is a significant endorsement by the corporation of the strong performance to date of its European operations headquartered in Dublin. The Irish centre will specialise in the field of networking and emerging network architectures, an area in which programmable microchips can make a major contribution due to their versatility and high-performance characteristics.

Xilinx will initially recruit PhD qualified engineers as principal researchers and PhD or experienced masters of degree holders as staff research engineers.

Bristol-Myers Squibb will enter into a collaborative research programme with Dublin City University and National University of Ireland Galway, locating a research team in both universities. This proposal represents the first phase of a long-term research engagement by Bristol-Myers Squibb in Ireland and will involve 32 researchers (25 academic and seven Bristol-Myers Squibb researchers) collaborating in a research programme over four years. The total investment is €9.6m.

The collaborative research programme is aimed at developing new technologies and methods for Bristol-Myers Squibb biopharmaceutical products and processes. The results could lead to increased productivity improvements and generate savings in a medium to large bio-manufacturing production line in the range of US$50-80m annually.

Pfizer is to invest €20m to establish a high-containment development facility at Pfizer Ireland Pharmaceuticals, Ringaskiddy, Co Cork. The investment will be strategically important for Pfizer’s Irish operations and for Ireland. It will greatly enhance the Ringaskiddy facility in its future development capability. It will build on the expertise levels of the Ringaskiddy’s development team and strategically enhance the facility’s position within the Pfizer Group as a location for process development.

Citigroup, one of the world’s largest financial services company will establish an R&D centre with an investment of €10m at its Dublin operation at the International Financial Services Centre. This is the first dedicated R&D centre established by Citigroup worldwide and the first of its kind in Ireland. The centre will advance the development of technical financial knowledge and research in Ireland and will be responsible for the development of products and services for Citigroup EMEA from concept to commerce.

And finally, Genzyme Corporation is investing €6.1m to expand its process research and development facility in Waterford. Genzyme Ireland is now developing further product line extensions in their 5,000sq ft R&D unit to support clinical trial work. This will allow it to expand its capabilities to produce clinical supplies in capsule and liquid form, on top of the current tablet form. This multi-dosage development capability will put the Waterford site into a very strong position to secure liquid and capsule manufacturing capability for future polymer and small molecule products as they obtain regulatory approval.

Commenting on the investments, Minister Martin said: “All five investments, supported by IDA Ireland, are at the cutting edge of technology and innovation and cross over a range of business areas; IT, pharmaceuticals and financial services, some of them involving serious collaborations with academic institutions.

“The level of activity that will be carried out by these companies is immensely important because of the strategically vital contribution research makes to global corporations and is a real encouragement to other companies across all business areas to choose Ireland for their research.

“Highly skilled and educated people, many at postgraduate and doctoral level are required for such operations and these five companies are confident of finding them here. The Ireland of the future will be one where education, skills and research are the defining advantages in an increasingly competitive world,” Minister Martin concluded.

By John Kennedy