Setting The Stage For Success: The Irish Bioindustry Association

Published on: 
BioPharm International, BioPharm International-12-15-2005, Volume 2005 Supplement, Issue 4

Through a series of collaborative activities with other industry groups, the Irish BioIndustry Association supports the continued development of the biotech sector in Ireland.

The Irish BioIndustry Association (IBIA), established in 1998, currently represents 44 companies. It is the leading representative body for the biotechnology industry in Ireland. Membership includes manufacturers, distributors, and those who support the industry either through services or provision of advice, finance, and capital. Biotechnology company members primarily occupy distinctive niches in the healthcare related areas. Indigenous companies include Elan, Biotrin, Tridelta, and Megazyme. There is also an exciting level of campus company activity with increasing numbers of spin-offs from Irish University organizations.

The primary goal of IBIA is to enhance the environment in Ireland for the development of a successful biotechnology sector. IBIA's role is to promote, support, and encourage further development of the multinational and indigenous biotech sector in Ireland. IBIA achieves this by building and maintaining excellent relations with government, state agencies, other representative organizations, and patient groups.

IBIA works closely with the research community to build a thriving biotech sector in the country. It is a full-time member of the US and European trade associations, BIO and EuropeBIO, respectively.

The association actively participates in a range of activities, including intellectual property and patents, regulatory affairs, and the promotion of research and development (R&D) collaborations within the sector. IBIA is very conscious of the role of R&D in supporting bio-industries, and the association works closely with research institutions within universities and Enterprise Ireland's Biotechnology Directorate.


The membership has outlined key objectives and aims for the association, which are reviewed on an ongoing basis and adapt to evolving challenges and opportunities. Overall objectives include:

  • Ensuring a regulatory regime which allows biotechnology companies to grow and prosper

  • Communicating effectively to all stakeholders the benefits of biotechnology to society

  • Actively promoting research and development in biotechnology and related sciences and partnerships between industry and universities and institutes of technology

  • Actively promoting an educational infrastructure which will support the biotechnology sector

  • Actively participating in the work of the biotechnology industry with other members of the European Union

  • Promoting a business environment that will enhance development of the biotech sector on the entire island of Ireland.

While advancing the objectives of members, IBIA reviews and revises its activities to ensure they are consistent with these objectives. A cross-section of some key activities within the past year includes:

Industry-led R&D Initiative. IBIA and Enterprise Ireland have teamed up to bring industry and academia together to develop specific R&D projects that will help address the short-term needs of the industry. The initiative is based on the Tekes model that has been used successfully in Finland. IBIA members were surveyed, and two areas of particular interest to companies emerged: in-line testing capability for bioprocessing and diagnostic miniaturization. Feasibility studies have been conducted in both areas by groups consisting of both industry and academic leaders. If approved by the board of Enterprise Ireland, €2 million could be made available to fund the research.

Conducting network events for industry and academic research entities. IBIA organized events in collaboration with Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). These platforms allowed SFI researchers to present their research areas to the industry and enabled the industry to showcase their companies and the R&D they are currently conducting.

Promoting the Irish biotech industry at international forums. For the first time, the IBIA joined with the Industrial Development Agency, Enterprise Ireland, and Science Foundation Ireland and commissioned a trade booth, which was unveiled at the BIO 2005 conference in Philadelphia. The stand was developed to serve as an information center about Ireland to promote its advantages to biotechnology companies, researchers, and entrepreneurs who wish to locate in Ireland.

Growth seminars. The IBIA joined forces with The Chalfont Project, an international consulting group, to provide members with a free periodical advisory seminar on how to address strategic, organizational, and personnel issues from start-up through various stages of company growth. The seminars covered numerous areas such as strategy articulation, product management, management for scientists and behavioral changes.

BioMed Ireland. IBIA participated in BioMed Ireland, the first North-South network for the health technology and biotechnology industries. This joint initiative with the Irish Medical Devices Association (IMDA), the Irish BioIndustry Association, BioBusinessNI, and InterTradeIreland, capitalizes on recent rapid growth in these sectors by developing cross-border business networks. These networks create an all-island critical mass for innovation, growth, and overall global competitiveness and provide a forum to:

  • Consolidate and maximize mutual learning, knowledge transfer, and networking activities

  • Identify and roll out models of best practice

  • Provide strategic benchmarking, both internally and externally for the island

  • Provide the first all-island economic impact study for the sector

  • Provide an all-island focal point for the sector and facilitate the global promotion of health technology and biotechnology companies based in Ireland


The Irish BioIndustry Association (IBIA) is the leading representative body for the biotechnology industry in Ireland. IBIA's role is to promote, support, and encourage further development of the multinational and indigenous biotech sector in Ireland.

To achieve these aims, the association engages in a range of activities to protect intellectual property and patents, encourage a positive regulatory environment, and promote research and development collaborations. In these activities, IBIA works closely with research institutions and organizations such as Enterprise Ireland's Biotechnology Directorate, Industrial Development Agency, and Science Foundation Ireland,