Minister praises Craigavon life sciences firm's commitment to research and development

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster has praised the Almac Group’s research and Development (R&D) excellence which has delivered global success for the company.

The Minister was speaking as she visited the new £13million Almac Drug Discovery Centre of Excellence in Craigavon. Almac Discovery was established last year through support from the Almac Group, Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Programme, to focus on pioneering drug development for the treatment of progressive diseases, particularly cancer.

The centre represents the latest commitment by Almac to Northern Ireland, building upon the significant investments already made by Sir Allen McClay since founding the company back in 2002.

Speaking as she toured the new facility, the Minister said: “This new innovative £13million centre represents a major phase in the growth of one of our most successful and innovative home grown companies. It will add value to the local economy, further reinforcing Northern Ireland’s reputation as a knowledge hub with a highly competent and talented skills and research base.

“The economy remains the Executive’s top priority and through the recent work of MATRIX, the Northern Ireland Science and Industry Panel, Life Sciences is identified as one of the key sectors which can deliver the greatest economic benefits.

“Almac is to be commended for its commitment to research excellence and international outlook, which has helped to profile Northern Ireland’s growing Life Sciences capability on the global stage. The Drug Discovery centre has already made a number of advances which have the potential to improve the treatment of cancer and other diseases, whilst maximising the commercial opportunities resulting from highly specialised and advanced research.

“Under the vision and leadership of Sir Allen McClay and his highly skilled research teams, along with the ongoing support of Invest NI, Almac has rapidly become a significant player in the global pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors. Long term, Almac Discovery will significantly enhance the Almac Group’s overall global competitiveness as new, high value, innovative products are progressed into clinical development.”

Dr Stephen Barr, President and Managing Director of Almac Discovery added: “This Centre of Excellence is a new venture for the Almac Group as it will enable Almac to develop novel pharmaceuticals for license and compliments the group’s other service-orientated businesses which facilitate drug development and testing for the world’s leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

“To ensure Almac Discovery is in a position to maximise its R&D capability, we have already successfully recruited 19 scientific staff, many of whom are leading international research experts in the field of drug discovery and oncology. The team has already initiated a number of core drug development programmes, primarily focused in the cancer field. In addition we have established an experienced, international Scientific Advisory Board to ensure our products and concepts meet the most stringent of global pharmaceutical standards.”