Chief Executive, Irish Exporters Association
Ireland is a global life sciences hub and the gateway to the European single market for many pharmaceutical companies. Never has this title and premise been so important than in the face of COVID-19.
In both keeping our hospitals and pharmacies functioning, and playing their part in the global supply chain, pharmaceutical companies are also working at pace to find a vaccine to rid the world of this highly contagious virus that has caused countless deaths, put our most precious in society in danger and changed the way in which we live.
What we do know is that even if a vaccine is proved safe and effective it may not be on the market for another year.
Recent soundbites from the US indicate that leaders may want the production of pharmaceuticals and medical devices to be brought back to their shores.
Ireland is well positioned in bringing a vaccine to fruition. Big pharmaceuticals here have a proven track record in vaccine production.
Air cargo is vital to the life sciences industry, and with the constriction of passenger flights at this time we will need, as a nation, to think creatively in order to ensure this sector continues to be able to function and to get vital items both on and off Ireland.
Keeping life sciences in Ireland
The sector, across medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals directly employs over 50,000 people in Ireland. Six of the top seven diagnostics companies operate here. This has built up a worldwide recognition that Ireland is the global centre for life sciences.
However, we do have challenges. Recent soundbites from the US indicate that leaders may want the production of pharmaceuticals and medical devices to be brought back to their shores.
Ireland is a major exporter of pharmaceutical and medical goods to the US, exporting €48.2bn worth of pharmaceuticals last year, which accounts for 31% of Ireland’s total exports, most of which went to the US. However, overall, it accounts for a small share of the US’ total life sciences market.
Ireland’s talented workforce is a major draw for the industry
I am confident that life sciences companies, that rely and believe in Ireland’s highly talented and skilled workforce, will not give up their European base easily. Ireland’s workforce is a huge draw and strong attribute to set up operations here.
Third level education in life sciences is rising to meet the demands of the sector with considerable expansions in many universities and institutes across the country. Ireland prides itself on its place as a global life sciences hub and will continue to attract companies in this space to set up and grow their operations within the European Union.