Large scale research funding

Yesterday saw the launch of something that, for me and no doubt for many others, was really significant. In Dublin the Minister for Research and Innovation, Sean Sherlock TD, officially opened the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) facility just next to the UCD campus in Dublin.

The building cost €57 million, and it will be part of Ireland’s drive to attract biopharmaceutical investment. It contains what is being described as a unique facility – ‘the only bioprocessing training facility in the world that so closely replicates an industrial bioprocessing environment.’ It will be run by a partnership between Dublin City University, University College Dublin, Sligo Institute of Technology and Trinity College Dublin. The Interim Director is Professor Ian Marison of DCU.

It can of course be seen from the price tag that this is a very expensive project, and it may well be that some will wonder whether such an investment can pay off. The Minister explained the reasoning as follows:

‘This is a far-sighted investment by the Government and IDA Ireland, to underpin the development of the pharmaceutical industry by supporting the collaboration with the founding Higher Education Institutes to establish NIBRT. Ireland will undoubtedly reap the benefits in the long run both in terms of high value job creation and in attracting further foreign direct investment from the industry to our shores.’

Can it work? That will depend on the extent to which the team running it can make it attractive to potential industry partners. Ian Marison has the experience and the connections to make a good start.

The reason why I am particularly interested in this launch is because, almost ten years ago, I was part of a small group convened by the IDA (Ireland’s inward investment agency) to discuss the prospects of such a venture. It is good to see that it has succeeded, at least to this point.

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