Industry Leaders, Academics, and Government Officials discuss the future of Innovation in Irish Biopharmachem

April 18, 2024

A event hosted by the Royal Irish Academy, in collaboration with SSPC, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals and BioPharmaChem Ireland, the Ibec group, saw representatives from industry, academia, and government agencies come together to discuss the future of innovation in the Irish Biopharma sector.

Key stakeholders convened to address pivotal issues concerning Ireland's enterprise in attracting investment, maintaining competitiveness, fostering innovation, and nurturing talent to ensure sustained growth in the sector. Notable speakers included Declan Hughes from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Danny McCoy, CEO of Ibec, and Professor Pat Guiry, President of the Royal Irish Academy.

Prof. Pat Guiry, President, Royal Irish Academy (RIA), said:

“There is a need for the Government to act adequately and invest in life sciences research and close the €307 million funding gap in higher education to deliver a sustainable funding model to support Ireland’s universities to remain at the cutting edge. The synergies between academia and industry will play a crucial role in shaping the future of Irish BioPharmaChem,, making it a powerhouse in global pharmaceutical advancement.”

Dr Sinead Keogh, Director of BioPharmaChem Ireland, the Ibec group said:

"The BioPharmaChem sector in Ireland comprises of Foreign Direct Investment via multinationals, indigenous businesses, and globally acclaimed researchers. Boasting more than 90 expansive manufacturing sites and providing direct and indirect employment to 84,000. Its significant contribution of over €116 billion to annual exports underscores its pivotal role in driving the country's economic growth and global competitiveness.

The symbiotic relationship between industry and academia, fuelled by third-level research investment, is paramount for sustaining our edge amidst intense global competition. As we navigate challenges and opportunities, continuous investment in research and fostering collaborative partnerships remain pivotal.

BPCI are advocating for the Government to develop a national health technology and life sciences strategy led by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, with the appropriate resources appointed within the department to manage its implementation. The development of a national industrial life sciences and health technology strategy will enable the adoption of industrial policies that prioritise resources and promote clustering so that Ireland can realise more strategic cross-sectoral cooperation.”

Prof. Damien Thompson, Director of SSPC, the Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Pharmaceuticals added:

“SSPC is part of a thriving Irish ecosystem, driving collaborative R&D and building the reputation Ireland globally. This reputation hinges not only on the quality of research conducted here, but also on the ability to attract and retain top talent. To ensure sustained growth in this ecosystem, the talent pipeline must be nurtured to support value-added Irish research and innovation and critically examine the support systems necessary for R&D. Specific actions must be taken to propel Irish research and innovation forward in the competitive landscape and leverage collective expertise to accelerate the Irish BioPharmaChem sector.”

According to BioPharmaChem Ireland, the sector's robust presence is evident with over 90 manufacturing sites, of which more than 50 are FDA-approved. With 84,000 individuals directly and indirectly employed, and annual exports exceeding €116 billion, the sector remains a cornerstone of Ireland's economic prosperity. Recent years have witnessed substantial capital investments exceeding €13.9 billion, indicative of the sector's growth trajectory and potential for continued expansion.