Life sciences has become one of Ireland’s biggest industries, with hundreds of companies, start-ups and, most importantly, jobs.
From Irish-born medtech start-ups that went global, to long-established biopharma multinationals that have made the island their home, the life sciences industry has become an impressive beast in Ireland, with more than €10bn of capital investment and nearly 9,000 jobs predicted for the industry by 2020.
So, who are some of the major players within the biopharma industry in Ireland? We focused in on 30 top life sciences companies that are making major plans in Ireland.
WuXi Biologics, headquartered in China, is an open-access biologics technology platform that offers end-to-end services in order to accelerate the development and manufacturing of biologics. Last year the company announced a massive €325m investment to create 400 jobs over five years in Dundalk. The investment was to build Ireland’s largest biomanufacturing facility using single-use bioreactors.
Edwards Lifesciences is a global leader in patient-focused innovations for structural heart disease and critical care monitoring. In March last year, the company announced 600 new jobs in an €80m investment, with plans for a purpose-built manufacturing facility at Castletroy. At the beginning of April 2019, Edward Lifesciences committed to doubling both its investment and its new jobs.
Alexion Pharmaceuticals was founded in 1992 and specialises in developments for patients with rare diseases. The company opened its first Irish facility in Dublin in 2013 with 60 employees. Following a number of expansions in Ireland, Alexion now employs hundreds of staff across three facilities, including a €100m aseptic vial fill-finish facility in Athlone and a global supply chain facility in Blanchardstown.
Global life sciences firm Eurofins has a significant presence in Ireland, with labs dotted around the country in Dublin, Waterford and Cork. At these facilities, Eurofins carries out clinical diagnostics, biopharma and agriscience as well as food and beverage testing. At the beginning of the year, the company announced 150 new jobs for its Dublin facility, which will focus particularly on DevOps and virtualisation.
Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) employs hundreds of staff in Ireland, with employees spread across three facilities, including a facility in Shannon, Co Clare, and a state-of-the-art biologics facility in Cruiserath. The pharma giant produces medicines that tackle diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis and psychiatric disorders.
French global biopharmaceutical company Sanofi purchased Waterford-based Genzyme in 2011. It then invested €44m in the Waterford campus to increase production of insulin product Lantus and announced a further 40 jobs for the site in 2016. Now, Sanofi is thought to employ more than 800 people in Ireland, most of which are at the Waterford facility.
Pfizer is the largest biopharma company in the world and has a significant presence in Ireland, with six locations employing more than 3,300 people. The company has been here for 50 years and its capital investment in Ireland exceeds $7bn, including a $30m lab in Cork that opened in 2014.
Optum is a health information technology and services firm that is part of UnitedHealth Group and has a global team of more than 110,000 people. It provides technological, operational, and consulting solutions and services to individuals, healthcare organisations and pharmaceutical companies as well as federal and state governments. Having established operations in Ireland 20 years ago, it has offices in Letterkenny and Dublin, and is continuing to expand.
While global pharma company Allergan operates in approximately 100 countries, it is headquartered in Ireland, with manufacturing facilities in Dublin and Westport. Allergan specialises in eye care for conditions such as retinal disease and glaucoma as well as medical aesthetics such as dermal fillers. In 2017 Allergan announced an investment of €42m in its Irish operations, and it has just announced 63 new roles in a €65m investment.
MSD has a long history in Ireland, with four major sites in Dublin, Carlow, Cork and Tipperary. These sites are involved in the production of more than 60pc of the company’s global top 20 products. In October 2018, the company announced plans to build a new standalone manufacturing plant in Carlow, next to its existing facility, creating 170 jobs in the process.
AbbVie is one of the top life sciences companies around the globe. In Ireland, the company is spread across five sites, comprising three manufacturing facilities in Sligo and Cork, and two Dublin offices performing commercial and operations activities. In 2017, AbbVie joined a 15-year genomics research alliance with Genomics Medicine Ireland and WuXi NextCode.
US medtech company Boston Scientific has three sites across Ireland, in Clonmel, Galway and Cork, employing approximately 5,300 people. The company produces therapies for debilitating conditions such as chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease and digestive system cancers. In 2017, Boston Scientific announced plans to invest €17m in a Galway-based R&D facility to specialise in endoscopy research.
Regeneron opened its first Irish facility in 2013, making Dublin home to the pharma company’s EMEA headquarters. Upon arrival to Ireland, Regeneron also invested $300m into a Limerick facility. Since then, the company’s Irish presence has grown massively, with it announcing 300 additional jobs for its Limerick facility at the end of 2017.
Eli Lilly and Company has had an Irish presence for more than 40 years, employing around 1,300 people. The manufacturing campus in Kinsale makes active ingredients for medicines across therapeutic areas such as oncology, immunology and diabetes. In 2017, the company got the green light for a €200m expansion at its Kinsale facility.
US biopharma company Amgen revealed plans to purchase Pfizer’s Dún Laoghaire facility in 2011, subsequently spending $300m and five years revamping the site. Now, the site is a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility that employs hundreds of people. It is a world leader in the life sciences sphere and produces a broad array of therapies across all areas of medicine. The company also has an office in Santry.
Leading medtech firm BD has several premises in Ireland, including a recently completed 80,000 sq ft facility in Limerick. The medtech giant also has offices in Drogheda and Dún Laoghaire. In July last year, BD announced 85 new roles at its Limerick R&D facility, bringing the total headcount to almost 300 employees.
Global healthcare company Grifols employs about 20,000 people across 30 countries. It was established in Barcelona in 1940 and began operations in Ireland in 2013. Its Dublin office serves as the management centre for the global bioscience division as well as a hub for labelling packing, final conditioning and distribution of finished plasma products.
Medtech giant Cook Medical has been in Limerick since 1996, starting out with labelling and distribution before steadily growing and evolving to include manufacturing, centralised customer support and then collaborative product development in its innovation centre. The company employs approximately 900 people in Limerick and manufactures 10pc of Cook’s products for global markets.
Having arrived in Ireland in 1946, Abbott Laboratories now has a large number of sites here, including in Sligo, Clonmel and Donegal. The company’s Irish operations are focused specifically on science-based nutritional products, diagnostic tools and medical devices. In 2017 Abbott relocated within Sligo as part of a €10m investment, and last year it announced major expansion plans in Donegal with 500 new jobs.
Established in Ireland since 1997, Takeda began manufacturing drug products in Bray following the opening of a custom-built facility in 1999. In 2002, the company located its overseas manufacturing centre for active pharmaceutical ingredients to Grange Castle. Takeda recently acquired Shire and revealed plans to invest $600m in a new state-of-the-art greenfield facility in Co Meath.
Jazz Pharmaceuticals is a global biopharmaceutical company that develops life-changing medicines for people with limited or no options. In particular, Jazz is a leader in sleep medicine and has a growing haematology and oncology portfolio. The company established roots in Ireland in January 2012 after a merger with Azur Pharma. In 2016 it set up a €50m manufacturing facility in Roscommon.
Global pharma company Mallinckrodt is 150 years old and has been in Ireland since 1992 when it opened a plant in Dublin. Since then, the company has heavily invested in its Irish operations, including opening a new global medical device engineering facility in Blanchardstown in 2017. The company focuses on developing innovative therapies and cutting-edge technologies for patients with severe and critical conditions.
Global biopharma company Gilead Sciences discovers, develops and commercialises innovative therapeutics in areas of unmet medical need. Gilead’s Irish facilities employ approximately 500 people and are responsible for manufacturing, quality control, packaging, and the release and distribution of the company’s products in the EU. In 2018 Gilead opened a new €9.5m facility at its plant in Cork.
Baxter International was founded almost 90 years ago and Baxter Ireland was established in Castlebar almost 50 years ago. Now, the company employs more than 1,600 people across a number of sites including two manufacturing sites in Mayo and offices in Belfast and Dublin. The company primarily focuses on products to treat haemophilia, kidney disease, immune disorders and other chronic and acute medical conditions.
Johnson & Johnson
Household name Johnson & Johnson is the largest biotech in the world, employing more than 126,000 people across the globe. Johnson & Johnson companies have been operating in Ireland for 80 years, with almost 3,000 employees across a network of locations including Johnson & Johnson Vision Care in Limerick, which recently announced 100 new jobs as part of a €100m investment.
Irish-founded Icon plc was founded by Dr John Climax and Dr Ronan Lambe in 1990. Since then it has opened offices all over the world, including Germany, the US, Japan, Argentina, Israel and South Africa. Icon now employs approximately 13,000 people around the world. The company is a global provider of outsourced development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries.
Novartis was one of the first pharmaceutical companies to locate in Ireland, landing on Irish shores in the 1950s. The company employs more than 1,600 people in Ireland, including the a global service centre in Dublin and two manufacturing sites in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork. These sites produce active pharmaceutical ingredients for a range of oncology, respiratory, cardiovascular, dermatology, central nervous system and transplantation medicines.
American biotech multinational BioMarin was founded more than 20 years ago and has been in Ireland since acquiring a bulk biologics manufacturing plant from Pfizer in Shanbally, Co Cork. The company expanded its Cork operations in recent years and last year it announced plans to take on more than 50 new employees to include drug product-filling capabilities in its operations. It also has an additional team in Dublin.
With its corporate HQ in Dublin, Medtronic has revenues of roughly $30bn globally across more than 160 countries and employs more than 85,000 people. The company came to Ireland in 2014 after its €31.7bn acquisition of Covidien, and in 2015 it announced plans for a manufacturing facility in Galway. Medtronic works in the areas of minimally invasive and restorative therapies, as well as cardiac and diabetes therapies.
Medtech giant Stryker is active in more than 100 countries worldwide and the company arrived in Ireland more than 20 years ago. Stryker has built its R&D and manufacturing operations here through investment and acquisitions. It operates a number of sites in Cork and is also in Limerick and Belfast, employing more than 3,000 people across the island. The company focuses on products in orthopaedics, neurotechnology and the spine.
Updated, 4.22pm, 29 April 2019: This article was updated to clarify that BMS has three facilities in Ireland, not four.