Ireland now a top global Biotech manufacturing hub

Biotech drugs (vaccines, biologics) continue to gain traction in the Life Sciences sector. Annual sales of Biopharmaceuticals are now estimated at over $280 billion globally, and an increasing number and percentage of Pharmaceuticals entering the market are Biopharmaceuticals. Ireland has successfully grown its presence in this market niche and is now recognized as one of the top global Biotech manufacturing hubs.

Munster has always been a key location for Biotech companies since the first Irish Biotech investment by Schering Plough Brinny (now MSD) in 1983. This trailblazing investment was followed by other major Pharma companies making significant strategic investments in Biotech in Cork such as Eli Lilly, Janssen and Pfizer (this facility is now owned by BioMarin).

These investments haven’t been a one off either with continuous investment on the sites to support additional capacity, capabilities and technologies such as MSD’s 2011 investment in the Brinny Pneumococcal Vaccine Conjugation Facility and Eli Lilly’s 2017 announcement which signalled a new Biotech build program to significantly increase capacity at their Kinsale campus.

Biotech growth throughout Munster

The growth of the Biotech sector in Munster hasn’t been limited to Cork and has spread to other counties for example Regeneron Limerick, Amneal Tipperary and Sanofi Waterford.

As well as the growing number of facilities, Munster is home to a diverse range of facilities supporting different markets for example Janssen Ringaskiddy is focussed on low/mid-volume-rapid-prototyping for clinical trial and early stage commercialisation. BioMarin and Regeneron are focussed on some of the most acute and debilitating orphan/rare diseases. While MSD Brinny, Eli Lilly Kinsale and Sanofi Waterford produce market leading high volume global drug products that support millions of patients worldwide.

The investment in Munster Biopharma remains consistent, with announcements in 2015 by Amneal in Tipperary focusing on high-end speciality medications and Biosimilars and the exciting GE BioPark announcement in 2016 with an innovative hub and spoke, multi-tenant, rapid deployment campus.

All of this commercial Biotech activity is made possible because of the support infrastructure in place in Munster including:

  • Global leading edge technical expertise in Manufacturing IT i.e. Automation & MES (Emerson, Rockwell, Zenith & ESP), Project Management, Process Design and Commissioning & Qualification (PM Cork/Jacobs Cork).
  • Skills training from BPCI-Skillsnet, the Biopharma training Centre in Cork (celebrating 10 very successful years this month) and NIBRT in Dublin.
  • Third level institutes delivering high calibre highly skilled graduates.
  • A significant number of niche market indigenous Irish SMEs who have a history of supporting this industry.

As the global Biopharma market continues to grow, Munster is perfectly placed with it’s support infrastructure and depth of technical expertise to continue to attract foreign direct investment and to expand further.

Some interesting facts:

  • The number of facilities in Ireland has grown from 2 in 2003 to 18 facilities in 2015
  • 0ver 5,000 new jobs in Biotech from 2015-2018 are to be created
  • The first Biotech facility in Ireland was Schering-Plough (now MSD) Brinny, Innishannon, Co. Cork
  • The largest Biotech investment in Ireland is at the Pfizer Grange castle site of approx. US$1.8billion (July 2016)
  • €10 Billion has been invested in Biotech in the last 10 years in Ireland
  • Approx 20% of committed global capital in Biotech manufacturing is being invested in Ireland

The result of this investment is that the sector is now forecasting over 8,000 new roles between here and 2020, with double that being required for support industries. LSC are forecasting that resource requirements for Biotech projects in 2017 will be double the 2013 requirements. Just under half of LSC’s business in 2017 is now dedicated to Biotech sector and that is likely to increase over the next few years.

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