“Randox Laboratories at Crumlin is investing £123 million in next generation biochip technology to help doctors diagnose a wider range of medical conditions, including cancer, heart disease and hormone disorders, more accurately and faster than is currently possible,” Ian Pearson, MP Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, said today.
Mr Pearson announced the new Invest Northern Ireland-backed investment, which is expected to provide 810 new jobs over the next three years, with Dr Peter Fitzgerald, Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, at a news conference in the company’s Crumlin headquarters. The company has four plants in the area engaged in R&D activities and in the manufacture of diagnostic testing products for almost 30,000 clients, mostly hospital laboratories, in 130 countries.
The latest investment is focused on the development of an automated analyser machine and unique biochips that enable clinicians to diagnose many diseases from a single sample, for example, of blood or urine from a patient. Almost 180 scientists have been involved in the development of the new equipment, which is called Evidence, at Randox. Using the new technology, hospital laboratories will be able to do 25 or more simultaneous tests on single samples on a one-centimetre biochip from 180 patients per hour.
Said Mr Pearson: “Randox is a first class example of a Northern Ireland entrepreneurial business that has achieved major international success through continuous investment in innovation in R&D, product development and global marketing.
“The new diagnostic system pioneered by Randox represents worldclass technology that will establish this company as an industry leader and will raise Northern Ireland’s profile as an international biotechnology research centre. The importance of this technology was endorsed recently in the Royal Academy of Engineering’s choice of Randox for the prestigious MacRobert Award, the UK’s biggest engineering award,” added Mr Pearson.
Dr Fitzgerald, commenting on the new investment, said: “We believe that the Evidence system has the potential to revolutionise healthcare worldwide by providing greater information from patient samples than is currently possible. It will also enable clinicians to harness the enormous potential of genomics research using DNA markers to pinpoint potentially life-threatening conditions earlier.
“It is a strategically important investment for the company because it positions us at the forefront of the development of complete diagnostic systems that enable clinicians to interpret a broader range of data from biochip tests,” he added.
The Evidence system has taken nine years to develop and represents a £55 million investment by the family-run business. Randox has worked with Queen’s University in the development of the biochip technology and has sub-contracted engineering work on the analyser to Langford Lodge, another Crumlin-based company.