€57m life sciences R&D institute NIBRT open for business

9 Jun 2011

The €57m National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) has been officially opened. The state-of-the-art facility will focus on educating skilled workers and ground-breaking research collaborations.

Minister for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock, TD, opened the new facility in Dublin this morning.

The facility represents a major strategic investment in the bioprocessing industry in Ireland and is a collaboration between higher-education institutes – University College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, Institute of Technology, Sligo, and Dublin City University – with support from the Irish Government and IDA Ireland.

It is the only bioprocessing training facility in the world that so closely replicates an industrial bioprocessing environment.

This allows trainees the opportunity to learn and practice complex technical bioprocessing procedures and to enhance their skills using the most modern equipment and facilities available anywhere.

“The pharmaceutical industry plays a critical role in the economic well-being of Ireland and the new NIBRT facility sets Ireland apart as a world-class location for these companies,” Sherlock said.

“This is a far-sighted investment by the Government and IDA Ireland, to underpin the development of the pharmaceutical industry by supporting the collaboration with the founding higher-education institutes to establish NIBRT.

“Ireland will undoubtedly reap the benefits in the long run both in terms of high-value job creation and in attracting further foreign direct investment from the industry to our shores.” 

Ireland: a key location for the global life sciences industry

Ireland is a key location for the life sciences industry, with nine of the top 10 global companies based here. The sector employs more than 47,000 staff between indigenous and multinational companies in the areas of pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical devices and diagnostics. Exports last year were in excess of €46bn – 42pc of total exports from Ireland.

“This new facility will play a vital role in training personnel for the bioprocessing industry in Ireland”, said Joe Harford, chairperson of NIBRT.

“The availability of such excellent research facilities and highly skilled staff will also support IDA Ireland as it seeks to attract further biopharmaceutical companies to establish operations here. Our ability to successfully integrate ground-breaking research with world-class training and education makes NIBRT globally unique.”

The 6,500 sq metres NIBRT facility is purpose-built to provide a world-class training environment and was designed in conjunction with leading industry experts to resemble a modern bioprocessing plant.

“We are offering trainees and students an incredible learning experience,” said Prof Ian Marison, interim director of NIBRT.

“NIBRT will help to position Ireland as a global centre of excellence in bioprocessing. Our trainees will be the future leaders in an industry which plays such an important role in the Irish economy. Our aim is also to work with industry to identify the key issues affecting the biopharma industry today and to put together expert teams of scientists to solve these problems.”

The staff in NIBRT includes expert lecturers and trainers and world-respected research teams headed by leading principal investigators. An example is Prof Pauline Rudd, who recently transferred her team from the Glycobiology Institute, Oxford University, to NIBRT. Rudd is leading research in the area of glycosylation changes, which play a crucial role in the production of advanced biopharmaceuticals and which is also important in disease, particularly cancer and autoimmunity.

“Ireland has a long, successful track record of attracting significant pharmaceutical investment from multinationals,” IDA Ireland CEO Barry O’Leary said.

“We have now established Ireland as the second-largest development and manufacturing location in the world for biopharmaceuticals, after the US. Global leaders in the biopharmaceuticals sector that have already undertaken significant investments in Ireland include Pfizer, Merck, Amgen, Genzyme (Sanofi), Lilly, Centocor (Johnson & Johnson), Allergan and Mylan.

“The establishment of NIBRT will further improve Ireland’s value proposition in attracting further biopharmaceutical investment to Ireland,” O’Leary said.