Post-Covid opportunity for Ireland to create next Pfizers and Modernas

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Subscription wet labs allow life science start-ups to scale without massive investment in facilities



27 October 2021 | 0

In association with The Campus, Cherrywood

In a recent EMEA Life Science investment report by Colliers, Ireland ranked in first place. The report showed that, on a capital invested per job created basis, investment into Ireland is running at a staggering 12x multiple of the European average, and over 4x as high as the next most invested life science location – the UK’s Golden Triangle between Oxford, Cambridge and London.

This remarkable showing hides a key issue in the Irish life science success story – namely that the investment into, and innovation output from Ireland, is heavily stacked towards the large pharma and biotech multinationals, many of whom have become such household names during the pandemic. The indigenous sector lags behind.




The reasons for Ireland’s success in life sciences are multi-faceted. The access to a well-educated and highly motivated workforce is at the core of Ireland’s value proposition. In addition, Ireland’s EU membership and excellent regulatory regime, provides a high level of certainty for investors. This is underpinned by a network of global leaders in engineering and sub-supply services, which has created a legacy and track record, that attracts repeat investment over many decades.

Because of this FDI base, Ireland now has a unique opportunity to scale up its indigenous life science sector, in a similar manner to how the formation of fast growing indigenous tech businesses in recent years, has leveraged off the presence of digital MNCs here.

The presence of Google and Apple and the domestic entrepreneurs they have spawned, has triggered the formation of a new wave of Irish digital success stories – from Intercom to Fenergo to Workhuman. There is no reason why this ‘brains trust’ process shouldn’t also now accelerate within the life science arena. This network effect is exactly what Spear Street Capital is looking to catalyse with its new life science cluster strategy at The Campus, Cherrywood.

The commencement and activation of this cluster strategy, sees the creation of a new 30,000 square foot life science innovation facility in The Campus, Cherrywood. The new dedicated life science facility is being developed by Spear Street Capital and will be operated by We Are Pioneer Group (WAPG), a world-leading life sciences innovation platform provider that already manages several similar facilities across the UK.

Spear Street Capital is investing in next-level innovation infrastructure to plug a gap in the Irish life science innovation ecosystem, that is currently preventing early stage companies from scaling rapidly.

Starting a company is hard and starting a life science company is even harder. With the need for specialised equipment and highly regulated lab space, the first experiment can take months and cost millions. At WAPG at the Campus, that model will get flipped on its head.

With access to state-of-the-art equipment, a vibrant community, and a broad range of incubation, acceleration and venture development services, the new facility will enable and empower entrepreneurs and scientists to run their lab in a fast, frugal, and focused way. The ‘pay-as-you-go’ wet labs model will allow companies to start with as little as a single bench and then grow to a full lab.

There are also plans to establish a dedicated lab for the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research & Training (NIBRT), a collaboration between UCD, Trinity College and DCU amongst others. This will afford NIBRT the opportunity to engage with and assist early stage and scaling Irish life science companies.

The WAPG at the Campus facility itself will act as an incubator building for high-potential Irish life science businesses. WAPG will also run regular accelerator and venture building programmes for Irish life sciences start-ups, helping to bring innovations ‘from bench to bedside’, and connecting start-ups to investors, talent, mentors, partners and, indeed, to life science multinationals.

The Campus, Cherrywood and this first piece of life science innovation infrastructure on it, points to an opportunity for indigenous start-ups to flourish alongside research and academic staff, as well as in partnership with scaling and established life science companies, in a true cluster environment.

As other global health shocks undoubtedly emerge over the coming decades, it makes strategic sense for Ireland to foster the next generation of domestic life science innovators, and help them scale to become the Pfizers and Modernas of tomorrow. This is what The Campus, Cherrywood life science cluster aims to do.

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