Minister for Finance Michael Noonan was at the University of Limerick to launch ATTLAS (Access to Third Level Analytical Services) a web-based portal (www.attlas.ie). ATTLAS was designed to provide the pharmaceutical industry with a one-stop-shop information source detailing all of the facilities, equipment and analytical services available across all of the Irish Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s).
Developed by the Solid State Pharmaceutical Cluster which is hosted by the Materials and Surface Science Institute (MSSI) at UL the portal aims to provide better connectivity between the pharmaceutical industry and the HEI’s in Ireland with a view towards retaining some of the significant contract analysis business that this industry is currently sending abroad. The site provides information on analytical service capabilities in the HEI sector in Ireland that are accessible to industry. Access to this infrastructure and expertise will support companies in their strategies to further enhance their Research & Development expertise which will help anchor manufacturing in Ireland. To date the capabilities of 15 HEI's in Ireland comprising 19 centres/institutes have been incorporated in the ATTLAS site.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Noonan said; “I am delighted to launch the ATTLAS online portal, which will allow companies to access the facilities, equipment and analytical services available in Irish Third Level Institutes. I am sure that the increased engagement facilitated by ATTLAS will result in enhanced research collaboration between academia and industry. This can only strengthen the investment offering that Ireland can make for investment from both home and abroad.”
Dr Mary Shire, Vice President Research at UL, has welcomed the launch of the portal. “The pharmaceutical industry accounts for €50billion in Irish exports and employs 24,000 directly and another 24,000 people indirectly. We need to support this important industry in Ireland and we more than have the collective capability to do so as ATTLAS now clearly indicates. The site includes details of 230 individual pieces of equipment incorporating 92 analytical techniques that can address over 160 industry related problems.”
Ireland is home to 8 out of the world's top 10 pharmaceutical companies and 6 of the top 10 blockbuster drugs are manufactured here.
The Solid State Pharmaceuticals Cluster (SSPC) is a research collaboration of five universities and ten leading pharmaceutical companies which was established through Science Foundation Ireland funding. The SSPC is a unique collaboration which supports Irish industry while driving process development and R&D for the pharmaceutical sector globally. SSPC is led by the University of Limerick (UL) and brings together leading researchers from - Pfizer, Glaxo Smith Kline, Eli Lilly, Merck Sharp and Dohme, Roche, Schering Plough, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Bristol Meyers Squibb, Clarochem and UCB Pharma UCD, UCC, NUI Galway and TCD. Through the establishment of the Solid State Pharmaceutical Cluster, the Irish pharmaceutical sector are now collaborating in partnership with the university sector to develop best practice technique which will benefit the entire sector. The SSPC has been profiled internationally as an example of a best in class industry - academic collaboration. This is mainly due to its research profile which is relevant to the challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry. The pharmaceutical sector employs over 24,000 in Ireland and needs to be more innovative in how it operates to protect these jobs from being lost to lower cost economies. Participation in SSPC initiatives like the members only Best Practice web portal bpx.ie and ATTLAS - Access to Third Level Analytical Services aim to demonstrate that Ireland can not only perform competitively but can offer benefits back to global HQ’s.