Irish research sector needs investment and appraisal to stay competitive, says NIBRT

24 Feb 2016

Killian O'Driscoll, director of projects at the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT). Image: Connor McKenna

In Ireland, the spotlight of success is usually shone on tech, but that’s not the only sector in which we excel – the growing biotech industry is going from strength to strength, and a large part of that is down to the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT).

Last weekend saw NIBRT take to Career Zoo, Ireland’s largest recruitment event, to spread the good word: the biotech sector is going through a strong growth phase.

According to Killian O’Driscoll, director of projects at NIBRT, the sector has progressed hugely over the last two years. Strong investment, an influx of global biotech giants and the growth of existing resident companies has created, not only a vigorous industry, but a “buoyant” recruitment space.

“I wouldn’t say it’s an easy sector [to get into],” says O’Driscoll. “The bar is quite high. [Life sciences employers] are looking for very high-calibre individuals with very strong backgrounds in science and engineering. But, having said that, there’s opportunities right the way across the board.”

The culture of biotech companies has a big part to play in the sector’s ongoing success. As blue-chip companies, they’re free to invest for the long-term, develop staff and focus on doing good science. This creates a robust industry.

But being robust now is not the same as staying robust, and O’Driscoll acknowledges that work needs to be done to ensure that Ireland remains attractive for investment and competitive as a research hub.

“Research is critical in the biopharma sector, where obviously our new products are driven by innovation. Ireland, as you know, has invested significantly – via SFI and others – in research over the last period, and that’s been reflected in the international tables where, I think, the latest figures have Ireland certainly within the top 20 of research performing countries and, in certain sectors, we’re up in number one and number two.

“But it needs constant investment; it needs constant appraisal. We need to make sure that we’re encouraging our scientists and giving them the support they need.”

To learn more about the current state of the Irish biotech sector, watch the full interview:

Looking for STEM jobs in Ireland? Check out our Featured Employers section for information on companies hiring right now.

Kirsty Tobin was careers editor at Silicon Republic