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 sciences area.
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, email@example.com