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Three experts on Research and Development in Ireland

Ireland is seeing unrivalled investment into it’s Life Sciences industry. Therefore, we asked two experts what this means for R&D, why it’s so important and how to secure investment for the future.

Three experts on Research and Development in Ireland Professor Joe Eustace

Prof. Joe Eustace

Head of Senior Management, HRB Clinical Research Coordination Ireland, and Director, HRB Clinical Research Coordination Ireland

How is R&D advancing the Life Sciences industry in Ireland?

Clinical research promotes a successful robust health care system. It does so by ensuring access to effective new therapies. Similarly it supports professional development and thus staff retention. Also it is conducted to a higher quality standard than routine care and thereby enhances overall patient outcomes. It provides Irish SMEs access to clinical experts and employs an increasing workforce in Pharma, CROs and academia.

Why is increased investment into Ireland’s research and innovation landscape so important?

Most Pharma companies route their Irish Clinical Trials through their UK offices. Although, with Brexit, it will likely either establish a separate Irish office –to Ireland’s benefit. Or route research via another EU country -which will marginalise Ireland. Investing in Ireland’s clinical trial infrastructure over the next 2-3 years will impact on these decisions and our success in the next 2-3 decades.

How can Ireland attract further significant investment in the Life Sciences industry?

To optimise Ireland’s success in large European funded multinational projects, we must join ERIC-ECRIN, a decision under review with the Department of Health. To attract more Industry research we need to build on the work of the HRB/EI funded CRCI which provides a single national access point and sign posting service; and which is working with IPHA to standardise trial CDAs, contracts, and budgets.

Three experts on Research and Development in Ireland Colm Galligan

Colm Galligan

Medical Director, MSD Ireland

How is R&D advancing the Life Sciences industry in Ireland?

Aside from the Government’s pro-enterprise policies, our pipeline of activities in life sciences is being driven by new discoveries. The industry is now beginning to reap the rewards of years of research in exciting areas of science. These include genomics, proteomics and metabolomics. Also harnessing the body’s own immune system in novel ways to fight diseases.

The sector in Ireland has grown from very humble beginnings in the 1960s to reach global significance.

R&D activity considers it a top location. In fact the EU ranks it as the 8th most innovative country. In the biopharmaceutical sector for example, nine of the world’s top 10 pharma companies are based here. Indeed, we have a significant track record of clinical and academic research excellence. Recently, the Government has committed €8 billion to research funding. The aim of this is to further bolster our reputation as a growing hub for research and development.

Increased investment into Ireland’s research and innovation landscape so important, can you explain why?

Research and Development and providing a world-class research system is critical for the life sciences sector . Equally it is important for advancing the innovation process.

To date, the Government’s R&D initiatives have encouraged our organisation to position its sites in Ireland as development centres for our new product portfolio. We are developing and manufacturing many of our pipeline products here also, bringing with it considerable investment. However, Ireland is facing growing competition from its European neighbours and beyond, as other countries compete for investment in this sector.

Increased R&D spending is crucial for Ireland’s future business success. This is to allow us to push the envelope on innovation and invest in solutions. The benefit being that can meet patients’ unmet medical needs.

How can Ireland attract further significant investment in the Life Sciences industry?

It’s important that ‘Ireland Inc’ continues to nurture and foster the pharmaceutical sector, such as  creating policies that encourage the best and brightest talent from across the world to take up careers here.

Education must also evolve to keep pace with the technological advancements of our time and the syllabus should ideally match the needs of employers as well as the realities of our digital era. Work is currently being undertaken to encourage interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics STEM subjects in schools for example, and increase the number of technology and science graduates. We in MSD are very active within this area, and work with local schools and colleges on education and career projects to encourage an interest in, and focus on, STEM.

With the Irish Government’s clear ambition to make the pharmaceutical sector a cornerstone of economic growth, more could also be done to encourage clinical research in Ireland. Setting up clinical research here can be long and arduous, with significant red tape in some cases. Through the creation of a more centralised research process here, clinical trials could get off the ground early and progress. The placement of a potential dedicated research expert at national level, ideally at government level, would also cement Ireland’s position as a research and innovation hub, as would a ‘protected time’ incentive, allowing clinicians to dedicate time to such initiatives, similar to policies in other EU Member States such as the Netherlands.

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