New phase for UL’s Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology Centre

Pat Macken, Chair, PMTC, Darren Whitaker, Perceptive Engineering Limited and Sarah Hayes, Director, PMTC at the 5th Annual Knowledge Day to launch 'PMTC Phase 2' at the University of Limerick. Photo: Oisin McHugh True Media

THE Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Technology Centre at University of Limerick’s Bernal Institute is embarking on a ‘new phase’ after securing €5m in funding.

One of the leading state funded, industry informed research centres providing advanced technology solutions for the pharma-sector, PMTC has appointed a new director and will expand its research focus to include data analytics as it launches ‘PMTC Phase 2’ following confirmation of funding from Enterprise Ireland, with support from IDA Ireland.

A key objective for PMTC is to place small and medium enterprises (SMEs) into direct contact with multinational corporations (MNCs) operating in the pharmaceutical and biopharma sectors in Ireland, allowing them to collaborate in an innovative research programme.

Recently appointed PMTC Director Sarah Hayes said the “fact that the centre has been refunded really speaks to the successes of PMTC to date and importantly that there is an appetite for innovation from the broad industry base in Ireland with its globally unique eco-system in the biopharmaceutical sector.

“If you ask peers in pharma multinationals in Europe and the US, the research collaboration in Ireland is looked at with envy,” she added.

Lead investigator Professor Gavin Walker, Bernal Chair of Pharmaceutical Engineering, said that PMTC Phase 2 would be “integral to the Bernal Project, a €100m strategic investment focused on physical sciences and engineering at University of Limerick. Moreover, PMTC Phase 2 is aligned with Enterprise Ireland’s goals of maximising impact and supporting Ireland’s manufacturing excellence”.

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The centre funds three core research themes: Plant Cleaning, Process Control and Optimisation and Data Analytics and Utilisation. These programmes are informed by industry and managed through industrial technical teams and the centre steering committee. Innovative research output is offered to PMTC industry members through confidential right of first sights and streamlined commercialisation strategies.

The centre’s industry membership is continuing to grow year on year with the current membership base of 38 companies comprising 60% SMEs and 40% multinationals.

A recent evaluation found the projected Economic Value Add (EVA) of PMTC will be €17.24 for every €1 invested by the State through Enterprise Ireland by 2022. Improved efficiencies and process innovation will be major drivers of this economic impact, with a number of companies reporting potential savings of millions of euro per annum due to implementation of the centre’s research programme.

Declan McGee from Enterprise Ireland explained: “In Phase 2, PMTC will have an enhanced emphasis on broadening its SME membership and will provide Enterprise Ireland clients with unrivalled interaction with biopharma multinationals.  

“These SMEs will be well placed to grow through delivery of new technologies and solutions to MNCs in Ireland and beyond,” he said.

PMTC director Sarah Hayes explained: “PMTC aims to grow its membership and work more closely with those existing members so that we understand their long term business needs and can quickly position ourselves to meet those opportunities.

“PMTC provides an introduction platform, giving the SMEs a place at the table so that they can directly engage in technical discussions with MNCs, which is a key enabler for those indigenous companies,” she added.

PMTC held its fifth annual knowledge day at UL’s Kemmy Business School this Thursday. It provided a showcase for the cutting-edge research supported by the centre with the addition of keynote addresses from industry thought leaders who shared their vision of the future for the bio pharma sector.

Speakers from industry included Kevin Lydon of Eli Lilly, Micol Martinelli, Enterprise Ireland, and a host of international guest speakers such as Dr William Hug, Photon Systems USA, Professor Peter Fryer, University of Birmingham, Professor Martin Warman, University of Strathclyde, and Professor Paul Sharratt from Singapore.