Given the importance of the pharmaceutical, healthcare, agriculture, and food industries to Ireland, it is critical that we
have a strong biotech sector in place to keep pace with global developments.
The Irish government has placed research and development (R&D) at the heart of our economic development strategy. Irish bioscience
today is benefiting from combined funding of more than €1 billion ($1.17 billion) from Science Foundation Ireland, Enterprise
Ireland, the Higher Education Authority, the Health Research Board, the European Union, and others. This level of investment
is aimed at improving our research and development base, which is critical to strong growth.
In recent years, Ireland has attracted major biotech players including Wyeth, Genzyme Corporation, and Centocor, Inc. In September
of this year, I announced government approval for an IDA (Industrial Development Agency) Ireland proposal to establish the
National Institute for Bioprocessing, Research and Training at a cost of €72 million ($84 million). This facility will provide
critical research and training facilities for bioprocessing technologies, which will demonstrate that Ireland is determined
to be a leading center in this industry. It will also provide assurance for overseas companies looking to invest in Ireland
that we will continue to have the skill base to support key biopharmaceutical research and product development.
In 2002, Enterprise Ireland (the Irish state development agency focused on accelerating the development of world-class Irish
companies) launched "Building Biotech Businesses," a strategy to grow and develop Ireland's entrepreneurial-led biotechnology
and life sciences industries. The strategy focuses on interventions designed to nurture early-stage companies by funding applied
research with commercial potential; by providing incubation, mentoring, and commercialization expertise; and by developing
the venture capital environment. The strategy is now beginning to pay dividends as companies doing world-class research are
emerging, and as technologies are being licensed to existing companies. For the first half of 2005, venture capital activity
in Ireland increased by 25.7% in comparison with the same period last year, and 70% of the deals completed were in the life
I welcome the opportunity, in this special Biopharm International supplement, to highlight the advances that the Irish biotechnology sector is making.
Micheál Martin, T.D., is Minister of Ireland’s Department of Enterprise, Trade, and Employment, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin
2, Ireland, +353.1.631.2121, fax +353.1.631.2827, firstname.lastname@example.org