AROUND 300 spin-off jobs could be created in the region thanks to the $300 million investment by Regeneron in a new Limerick plant.
This is in addition to the 300 that will be directly employed by the US biopharma company in Raheen by the end of 2016 and an estimated 800 construction jobs to be created in the interim.
Limerick County Council, which last week granted planning permission to Regeneron to adapt the former Dell manufacturing facility, is seeking just over €1 million in development contributions as a condition.
Documents in support of the application outline the development will take place in two phases, with 185 to be employed by the end of 2015 and 300 by December 2016. The plant will operate 24 hours a day.
Consultants estimate that 300 spin-off jobs will be created in Regeneron suppliers and contractors and in the wider economy as a result of the investment.
Regeneron invents, develops and manufactures medicines and already has products on the market for fighting colorectal cancer and eye disease. It has candidate products in development in areas like oncology, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, dermatitis and high cholesterol.
Its Limerick plant will support “growing demand for its medicines in Europe and other parts of the world”, according to a submission from consultants, the PM Group. Regeneron intends “reusing to the maximum extent possible” the buildings and facilities already in place on Dell’s 11.88 hectare site in Raheen.
The building has been deemed “technically and environmentally suitable and adaptable for the proposed use”, according to the consultants.
Major construction work is nevertheless required as over 28,000 square metres of floor space will be added, including a second floor for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units over the factory floor and a three-storey block for quality control labs.
Regeneron will grow cells in culture in bioreactors - or vats - ranging in size from 50 to 10,000 litres. These are then harvested before being purified into the proteins on which Regeneron bases its products.
The planning application states that the genetically modified organisms to be cultivated are in the “lowest risk” category, according to EU directives.
And the “standard biotechnology processes” used by Regeneron generate less hazardous waste than industries using synthetic chemical processes. Whereas the latter might generate thousands of tons of hazardous waste per annum, Regeneron in Limerick will produce around 100 tons a year, the application states.