€40 million research investment in pharma sector

Mr Richard Bruton TD, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and Mr Seán Sherlock TD, Minister for Research and Innovation today (Monday) announced funding, through the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, of €30 million to support world-class research at the Synthesis & Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC) based at the University of Limerick.

This exchequer funding is leveraging a further investment of €10 million from industry partners, to the SSPC. The Minister for Finance, Mr Michael Noonan TD and the Minister for Housing & Planning, Ms Jan O’Sullivan TD were present at the announcement. The SSPC is dedicated to supporting the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland, which is responsible for over 60,000 Irish jobs and exports over €50 billion annually.

Announcing the funding, Minister Bruton stated: “The importance of continued investment in excellent science to Ireland’s on-going and future economic development cannot be understated. A central part of this Government’s Action Plan for Jobs is to ensure that scientific research is better targeted at turning the good ideas of our talented researchers into good products and high quality jobs. Investments in science, like today’s commitment to the SSPC, are key to supporting dynamic Irish companies, attracting and developing multinational investment, and ultimately creating the jobs we need”.

Minister Bruton added “This commitment of €40million by Government and industry in establishing a research centre of international significance is a major investment in the future of research in Ireland, in the pharma sector, and ultimately in jobs”.

This investment in the SSPC by Government and industry partners will have major significance in promoting Ireland as a location for Foreign Direct Investment and job creation particularly in the areas of Research & Development and advanced manufacturing.”

Speaking at today’s announcement Minister Sherlock said: “The commitment to fund the SSPC directly supports one of the key areas of growth and focus as identified by this government in the National Research Prioritisation Exercise, namely therapeutics – synthesis formulation, processing and drug delivery.”

Minister Sherlock added: “The excellence, relevance and impact from the SSPC can clearly be seen by the direct involvement of such significant industry partners involved. Companies such as Pfizer, Glaxo Smith Kline, Eli Lilly, Merck, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Roche, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Clarochem Ireland, UCB Pharma, Alkermes, Abbvie, Eirgen Pharma, APC Ltd, Scale-up Systems, Innopharma Labs, Glantreo, and Amebis Ltd are significant employers in Ireland. Through the SSPC they are demonstrating their respective commitment to Ireland – and an obvious recognition of the talent pool that we have available here. I am also delighted to see that institutions such as Athlone IT, Waterford IT, TCD, UCC, UCD and NUI Galway are all collaborating with UL to ensure the success of this centre of excellence for pharmaceutical research for Europe’s development.”

Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan welcomed the announcement commenting: “The pharmaceutical sector is one of the largest and most successful industries in Ireland responsible for over €50billion in exports annually. The continued commitment by this government to supporting world-class research, like that undertaken at SSPC, will drive growth and bring stability to Ireland’s economy. Funding science at this level positions Ireland at the forefront of research and development at an international level but also brings benefits back to the local economy. The SSPC will strengthen the position of the University of Limerick as a leader in the area of pharmaceutical manufacturing and will attract the world’s best and brightest research talent to this great city and county.”

The Synthesis & Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre (SSPC) is a unique collaboration between 17 companies, 8 academic institutions and will position Ireland as a global hub for pharmaceutical process innovation and advanced manufacturing. Building a core capability in the area of process R&D will serve to cement the pharmaceutical industry in Ireland. It will help to retain jobs in existing pharmaceutical companies and support local management in the intra-corporate competition for new investment projects. A key theme of the research is its focus on process efficiencies and ‘greener’ chemistry, which will have a positive impact on the environment by reducing and in some cases eliminating the use of environmentally hazardous materials.

The Minister for Housing and Planning, Minister Jan O’Sullivan TD, commented “This is a hugely significant research investment by any standards. As a public representative for Limerick, I am immensely proud that the talented research personnel at the SSPC here at UL have won this significant funding against tremendous national competition under the SFI Research Centres programme. I’m absolutely confident that the top-class work being conducted by SSPC with their industry partners will be a major magnet for enhanced industrial development in Limerick and the surrounding region whilst also bringing environmental improvements which are of some relevance to my own portfolio.”

President of the University of Limerick, Professor Don Barry warmly welcomed the announcement; “As the Ministers have stated, the establishment of the large-scale centre of excellence – the Synthesis & Solid State Pharmaceutical Centre at UL , will have overarching economic impacts for the mid-West region and for Ireland in the retention and creation of jobs in the pharmaceutical industry. I am delighted that in doing so, the University of Limerick is significantly contributing to Ireland’s economic and societal advancement.”

Speaking at the announcement, Prof. Mark Ferguson, Director General of SFI said: “The SFI Research Centres Programme represents the largest ever state industry co-funded research investment of its kind in Ireland. The programme will see €200 million of Irish exchequer funding matched by €100 million in support from industry invested in seven world class research centres of scale, one of which is the SSPC. The SSPC has clearly demonstrated the potential to deliver tangible economic benefits through research excellence, criteria which were critical in the selection of the initial seven centres, a process which was subject to rigorous international peer review.

The SSPC is a world leader in the area of pharmaceutical research and I am both confident of its continued success and excited about the possibilities for this centre of research excellence. I anticipate that SSPC will expand and further leverage this initial investment through successful applications to the EU and through further relationships with industry partners both in Ireland and internationally.”

Ireland is home to 8 out of the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies and 6 of the top 10 blockbuster drugs are manufactured in the country.

SSPC will strengthen the position of the pharmaceutical companies in Ireland by conducting research to make pharmaceutical manufacturing more efficient, cost effective, and environmentally sustainable, thereby making Ireland more attractive as a location.