Through foreign direct investment since the 1960s, Ireland has grown a globally significant life sciences industry. Today Ireland has over 170 companies employing 35,000 people in the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostic sectors. Add to this mix a large-scale government investment in research and an increase in entrepreneurial and venture capital activity, and one can easily see why Ireland is developing as a world-class cluster in life sciences, and particularly in biotechnology.Foreign Direct Investments
The global consulting firm AT Kearney published its Offshore Location Attractiveness Index in 2004. The index measured the viability of countries around the world as offshore destinations, based on financial structure; people and skills; and business environment. Ireland ranked fourth in the world for people and skills, and third for business environment. The regional picture is even brighter, as Ireland was ranked as the leading location in Europe in both of these categories.
In September 2005, an Industrial Development Agency (IDA) Ireland proposal to establish the National Institute for Bioprocessing, Research and Training at a cost of €72 million was approved. This facility will provide critical research and training facilities for bioprocessing technologies, and will help demonstrate that Ireland is determined to be a leader in this industry. The facility will also provide assurance for overseas companies looking to invest in Ireland that the country will continue to have the skill base to support key biopharmaceutical research and product development.
Investing in Biotechnology Research and Infrastructure
Major research investment in biotech has taken place in recent years. Funding from the Higher Education Authority (HEA), Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), Health Research Board, and Enterprise Ireland means that a research ecosystem is being established with a strong base in the third level sector (universities and technology institutes). Several HEA and SFI projects are particularly noteworthy.