High-end manufacturing goal is within reach

1 Sep 2005

Ireland’s future as a manufacturing base was underlined this afternoon by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin TD. However, this future can only be achieved by delivering the expertise to capture the next wave of high-end manufacturing, such as the biopharmaceuticals and biotechnology, he said.

Martin expressed these views while announcing a €72m state-of-the-art National Institute for Bioprocessing, Research and Training (NIBRT), which will be based at University College Dublin’s (UCD) Industry Park.

The facility will be established by four leading colleges: UCD, Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University and Sligo Institute of Technology.

The majority of the €72m will be provided by IDA Ireland over the next seven years and the institute, with world-class research and training programmes and a 9,000 facility with scale-up capacity, will be a cornerstone in the agency’s efforts to attract the next wave of industrial development.

In July 2004, IDA Ireland issued an invitation for proposals to establish this new institute and following an extensive independent international review the submission from a consortium led by UCD was accepted.

The industrially focused institute, which will be only one of a small number of its type in the world, will be a centre of excellence in bioprocessing and biomanufacturing technology training and research to support the rapidly growing biopharmaceutical industry in Ireland.

A key element will be the substantial investment in a scale-up capability within which the training and research can take place. This capability will make the training and research carried out at the institute highly relevant to the needs of the biopharmaceutical industry in Ireland and throughout the world.

Through the involvement of the academic partners, the new institute will provide a substantial output of people across the spectrum of the bioprocessing skills. It will also build up a substantial research team to undertake significant collaborative research between academia and industry to address the major technology issues of the bioprocessing industry.

Martin said the institute would give Ireland a competitive advantage and act as a magnet of attraction for major biopharmaceuticals investments from both overseas and indigenous companies.

“The establishment of NIBRT sends out a clear signal to the biopharmaceutical industry worldwide that the Irish Government is committed to a strategy of development for the industry and creating a highly competitive environment in terms of skills, training and research capabilities.

“Biopharmaceuticals and bioprocessing have been identified as a key growth area for the future – this is the type of manufacturing Ireland will be competing for in the future.

“As we have seen, particularly over the past few weeks, manufacturing in Ireland is changing. It is clear that can no longer compete on a cost basis for low-level assembly type manufacturing, however this is not to say we do not have a future in the manufacturing industry. We do.

“Manufacturing in Ireland in the future will be characterised by its high-technology nature, its capital intensity and most importantly by the skills and expertise of the people managing and operating these facilities,” the minister added.

By John Kennedy