€2.3m investment to fund biopharma research

2 Jun 2009

Enterprise Ireland has launched a €2.3m research network for the biopharmaceutical sector, with the focus of delivering more efficient and cheaper biophama manufacturing capabilities.

The new network was announced today by the Minister for Science, Technology, Innovation and Natural Resources, Conor Lenihan TD.

“The pharmaceutical industry has been a major contributor to the growth of the Irish economy in recent years,” Minister Lenihan said.

“Pharmaceutical net exports exceeded €16.7bn in 2008, making Ireland the largest net exporter of pharmaceuticals in the world. Industry-specific initiatives like this one are contributing to a national culture of innovation, which is a significant benefit to companies in the biopharma sector and others as they move up the value chain. This three-year industry-led research project represents a milestone in building Ireland’s smart economy.”

There are 15 companies involved in the project, eight of which are Irish – BioUETIKON, Stokes Bio, Valcon Consulting, Luxcel Biosciences, Cellix, DPS Engineering, Pharmeng and Technopath.  Seven multinationals are also involved –Wyeth, J&J (Centocor), Genzyme, Pfizer, Schering Plough, Eli Lilly and Elan.

The team that will carry out the research is led by University College Dublin, with support from Dublin City University, the National Institute of Bioprocessing Research and Training, and the Tyndall National Institute at University College Cork.

ABB Ireland, which employs over 450 people in Ireland, will support the academic research team with analytical and commercial aspects of the research programme. 

Enterprise Ireland has been working with the companies involved to identify specific developments required to improve the production systems used to manufacture drugs. The application of these developments will allow precise quality control throughout the manufacturing process.

This will be an advance on traditional methods which use laboratory analysis to measure quality after drugs has been manufactured – an inefficient and expensive process with high levels of waste and unnecessary energy consumption.

“The key benefit to the companies involved will be access to the next generation of process control tools to enable safe and efficient production of biopharmaceutical drugs,” explained Dr Keith O’Neill, Enterprise Ireland’s director of Lifescience Commercialisation.

“By investing in the development of these advanced technologies, Ireland is positioning itself to lead the next wave of biopharmaceutical manufacturing and ensure our competitiveness in this sector,” O’Neill added.

By John Kennedy