NIBRT annual report shows impressive growth of biopharma

13 Feb 2018

Researcher at NIBRT. Image: NIBRT

Biopharma in Ireland is flourishing.

The National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) published its 2017 Annual Report ahead of theBioPharma Ambition conference on 21 and 22 February 2018, announcing substantial growth across all areas of research and training activity.

Despite some headwinds related to weak global economies, R&D productivity challenges, Brexit and drug pricing, the global biopharma sector remains on course to deliver annual growth rates of 6.5pc and total revenues exceeding $1trn by 2022.

Significant deals in Ireland

In Ireland, significant investment decisions from Merck, Janssen, Eli Lilly, Regeneron and others to further increase their advanced biopharma manufacturing capacities mirrored global growth.

A banner year for training at NIBRT

NIBRT’s training activity continued at an exceptionally busy pace through the year, not only for the start-up and expansion companies, but also for services. More than 4,000 trainees participated in more than 19,000 training days in total.

396 students were trained under the Springboard jobseeker employment programme in 2017 and there are researchers from 15 nations working at NIBRT. Research from the facility appeared in no less than 31 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals last year, an impressive feat.

In a positive omen for the biopharma industry, 81pc of NIBRT annual survey respondents said they were “highly optimistic” for the sector’s future.

Key biopharma areas for the future

In terms of what survey respondents believe will be the most lucrative product pipeline areas, monoclonal antibodies and vaccines were deemed the most commercially important.

Regarding the biopharma therapeutic products that were likely to be the most important in the next five to 10 years, respondents most often cited monoclonal antibodies (56pc), cell therapies (43pc), and gene therapies (42pc).

Expansion continues

The addition of Prof Niall Barron to the NIBRT team saw its research capabilities grow. The NIBRT-GE Single Use Technology (SUT) Centre of Excellence was completed and SUT training commenced, as well as the further expansion of the Thermo-Fisher collaboration, which continues to provide next-generation bio-analytical solutions to industry.

Earlier this year, NIBRT led a consortium of 27 partners to successfully win approval-in-principle for the ‘Bio-Logic’ Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre – an ambitious €40m six-year research programme. While Government funding for this centre is not currently available, NIBRT outlined how they are still going ahead with bilateral projects with interested parties.

NIBRT chair, Brendan O’Callaghan, stated: “I am delighted to report that 2017 saw NIBRT train a record number of trainees at the facility and continue to build a reputation globally for the quality of its research and training solutions and their relevance to industry.

“This success is of course not possible without the commitment and dedication of the NIBRT team, the strong support of my board colleagues and the many positive collaborations with our academic, industry and government partners.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects