Executive, BioPharmaChem Ireland
The Republic of Ireland has become one of the largest manufacturers of biopharmaceutical and chemical products in the world, a major win for the country.
Today, the biopharma and chemical industry in Ireland is booming. It accounts for 67% of the total goods exported, valued at €106 billion. All of the top 10 global biopharmaceutical companies have a presence here, eight of which are manufacturing sites and employ 42,000 people directly. This current success is in stark contrast to the industry in the 1970s when the trade volume was a little over €100 million.
Mind the gap
Identifying and understanding the true value of this industry by successive Irish Governments has been critical in this success story. Manufacturing sites tend to grow deep roots in their community due to the sizable investment of time and capital required during the initial set up.
However, increasingly fierce competition, especially from lower cost countries has meant that Ireland needs to keep adapting in order to attract new investment.
Catching the next wave
The initial manufacturing base for Ireland centred on synthesising small molecules and pre-cursor active pharmaceutical ingredients (API). One key feat for the country is that it is the only producer for Abbvie’s world famous Botox.
Increasingly fierce competition, especially from lower cost countries has meant that Ireland needs to keep adapting in order to attract new investment.
However, over the last two of decades, there was an emergence of a new class of therapeutics, large biological molecules, with antibodies being the most prominent. Already having a large pharma presence and built-in knowhow meant Ireland was poised to exploit this nascent manufacturing stream.
Most recently though, cell and gene therapy has come to the forefront. Ireland has managed to make a dent in the market by manufacturing components of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Diversity and depth – multinationals vs home-grown
Although multinational corporations (MNC) dominate biopharmaceutical landscape in Ireland, their presence has been crucial in nurturing a small but vibrant indigenous ecosystem. MNCs have the resources to set an increasingly high benchmark for product quality that is then adopted by smaller companies.
Now Ireland has started showcasing its own successful home-grown biophama businesses with Chanelle and ICON being the leading lights.