GE Healthcare to invest in biopharmaceutical manufacturing campus in Ireland.
Biological medicines are a staple in healthcare today, and new drugs and treatments are becoming more targeted and more effective for smaller sets of patients. To address the increasing worldwide demand for biopharmaceuticals, GE developed KUBio™, a prefabricated factory comprising single-use bioprocessing technology that gives drug-providers the flexibility and speed they need to meet this ever-growing demand.
Ireland is one of the world’s top pharmaceutical manufacturing locations and has seen more than EUR 10 billion of investment in the past ten years from companies such as Pfizer, J&J, Sanofi, BMS, Regeneron, Alexion, Biomarin, Allergan, MSD and Lilly.
To maintain its leadership in biopharma, Ireland’s inward investment agency – IDA Ireland – is focused on bringing more biotech investment into the country. Ireland has also invested in talent development through the National Institute for Bioprocess research and Training (NIBRT). Last year, NIBRT trained almost 4,000 people from all over the world and helped Ireland win a number of recent biotech investments.
Growth of the Irish biotech cluster shows no sign of slowing. That’s why today, GE and IDA Ireland announced plans to build Europe’s first KUBio facilities and establish a biopark in Ringaskiddy, Cork. However, the facility won’t be your typical KUBio factory. Think bigger than a standalone facility in the middle of the rolling green hills of Ireland. Think…a KUBio Kingdom.
One KUBio, two KUBio, three KUBio, Four …
GE BioPark Cork will be a single campus hosting four KUBios owned and operated by independent biopharma companies manufacturing proprietary medicines. GE will provide an infrastructure of shared utilities and site services to each company on campus.
GE’s USD 170 million (EUR 150 million) investment in the creation of BioPark will create up to 500 new jobs, and, according to IDA Ireland, address a large number of industry challenges such as cost pressure, increasingly expanding drug pipelines and flexibility, allowing companies to quickly invest in capacity while hedging risk of over-investment. It allows them to move more quickly and adopt the latest in manufacturing technology.
“BioPark is a big bet on a new idea that aims to solve longstanding challenges in the biopharmaceutical industry”, says Barry Heavey, Head of Life Sciences, Engineering & Industrial Tech, IDA Ireland. “A bet that called for a strong partner like GE who could make it happen.”
Building skills for the future of Irish biotech
Ireland’s continued success in building a biotech industry needs skills as well as infrastructure. To better equip the region’s biotech companies for future growth and build expertise in next-generation single-use manufacturing technology such as that featured in the KUBio, GE and NIBRT are developing a training collaboration to train 1,500 professionals per year.
The NIBRT-GE Single-use Training Centre of Excellence at NIBRT’s facility in Dublin, Ireland is where the personnel learn on the technologies that will be used at GE BioPark Cork.
“We are excited about installing the FlexFactory™ platform at NIBRT, so that our clients can experience and appreciate at first hand the true benefits offered by implementation of an integrated biomanufacturing platform based on single-use technologies. We’re seeing an increased demand in single-use technologies and the partnership will enable us to develop and deliver training programs to meet this demand”, says Killian O’Driscoll, Projects Director, NIBRT.
Biopharmaceutical companies are turning to GE’s KUBio solution to establish off-the-shelf manufacturing in record time and get their medicines to market more quickly. This May, the world’s first KUBio opened in Wuhan, China and Pfizer has announced plans for China’s second such facility in Hangzhou shortly thereafter.
The facilities are between 25 and 50 percent more cost-effective to build than comparable traditional facilities, and can be up and running in 18 months, enabling improved access to drugs that combat deadly diseases such as cancer. They also consume significantly less water and energy than facilities using traditional stainless steel technologies.