Posted on 23 September 2016.
The Irish Government, both north and south of the border, has indicated an intent to work together with the biopharma industry to grow talent, competitiveness and innovation across the whole island. Attendees at the Biopharma Ambition Conference were told that continued partnership between the state and industry could not only boost the Irish economy, it could also help to create an environment to discover next-generation treatments for a range of diseases.
Addressing delegates at the prestigious biopharma congress which took place across a range of Dublin locations, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor said: “We want to help continued innovation in the industry that may lead not just to more job opportunities in Ireland but also to the development of new treatments that positively impact the lives of people all across the globe.”
This pledge to continue its fine work with industry comes at a crucial time, as the uncertainty that has flowed from the Brexit vote has the potential to impact the biopharma industry in Northern Ireland, in particular, which has the potential to double in size by 2020, generating revenues of £1.6 billion per annum. The €30 billion in exports that flows from the Irish economy could also see a further 8,000 jobs added over the next three years.
Northern Ireland Economy Minister, Simon Hamilton, told delegates: “A climate which promotes partnerships between government, academia, clinical and private sectors in Northern Ireland has been central to this growth. If we are to sustain and, indeed, build upon this success, then the same spirit of collaboration will help develop new and innovative processes which will deliver, both in terms of prosperity and public health benefits.”
The organisers of the conference, BioPharmaChem Ireland, as well as the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) and the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) have called for a focus on three factors that will greatly aid the biopharma industry in Ireland reach its potential: an emphasis on talent, growth in competitiveness and growth in health innovation.
Speaking later at the conference, Minister for Health Simon Harris commented: “This conference sends a welcome signal that the industry is committed to making Ireland a real centre of excellence for biopharma – and to continuing its pursuit of new innovations that can transform the lives of patients in Ireland and elsewhere.”
A key focus from the conference, from the perspective of everyone from regulators to the companies themselves, was growing talent. While Ireland boasts an attractive offering in terms of the educated workforce it can provide to companies, more work is still needed to ensure that young professionals joining the pharma or biotech industries are equipped with the specific skills they will need to succeed in this career.
Oliver O’Connor, Chief Executive of the Irish Pharmaceutical Association, added: “In order to grow the tangible benefits of the industry and life changing solutions we are calling on both Governments, North and South, to commit to developing the talent base across the island in order to meet future demands, grow both Ireland and Northern Ireland’s competitiveness globally, and provide greater support for clinical trials, IT investment and key specialists.”