Minister opens new Business Innovation Centre for life sciences start-ups

Pictured at the opening of the new Business Innovation Centre - North at NUI Galway are l-r: Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Sean Kyne, ; Fiona Neary, innovation operations manager, NUI Galway; Dr Larry Couture, CEO, Orbsen Therapeutics Ltd; and Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, president of NUI Galway. Photo: Sean Lydon

Pictured at the opening of the new Business Innovation Centre - North at NUI Galway are l-r: Government Chief Whip and Minister of State for the Irish Language, the Gaeltacht and the Islands, Sean Kyne, ; Fiona Neary, innovation operations manager, NUI Galway; Dr Larry Couture, CEO, Orbsen Therapeutics Ltd; and Professor Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh, president of NUI Galway. Photo: Sean Lydon

Minister Sean Kyne, TD this week, in conjunction with with NUI Galway’s Innovation Office, officially opened 6,500 square feet of fully fitted laboratory space with state-of-the art technology to support start-ups in the region. The Business Innovation Centre – North will support start-ups in the Life Sciences sector, with room for up to 100 employees.

The new development complements the University’s existing Business Innovation Centres which are home to 52 early-stage companies.

The University’s focus with the new Business Innovation Centre – North at Dangan Business Park is in driving Life Sciences research and innovation to develop services and solutions that demonstrably improve outcomes for patients through solutions that save lives.

Minister Kyne said that in the West of Ireland, we are fortunate to have strong and vibrant clusters of industry that are populated by global companies but also local start-ups brimming with potential and possibilities.

“This new ‘wet lab’ space will help students, researchers, and Life Sciences workers undertake research and development, carry out experiments and test ideas that will potentially have life-enhancing and life-saving results for patients far beyond the West of Ireland.

“I congratulate and commend NUI Galway for building on its already strong reputation for innovation and I wish all researchers and companies that will use this facility well in their vital work.”

Fiona Neary, Innovation Operations Manager at NUI Galway, said they opened the first Business Innovation Centre 30 years ago, and have supported 97 start-ups on campus that have created 1,456 jobs to date.

“53 of these start-ups came from the healthcare sector. Just last year our start-ups raised €35 million collectively. With continued growth in this sector now more than ever, we need additional space and supports in this area to ensure the scalability of these companies internationally.

“Life Sciences start-ups have very particular needs. They require access to sophisticated ‘wet labs’, very specialised and often expensive equipment, hospitals and a skilled workforce.

“These requirements are all available here in NUI Galway. We anticipate an initiative like this has the potential to create a “networked” regional enterprise hub for the incubation and acceleration of healthcare technologies. This will unleash the capability to promote sharing of resources and expertise, entrepreneurial activity, create jobs, to foster innovation and to enhance export potential,” she said.

David Murphy, Director of the Innovation Office at NUI Galway, said the region’s Life Sciences ecosystem is maturing to the point that innovation and entrepreneurship is imperative to retain our current standing.

“The lack of appropriate incubator space, particularly laboratory space, has been an impediment to the growth and development of nascent entrepreneurial enterprises, and this has driven the Innovation Office in NUI Galway to pursue this initiative. With financial support from NUI Galway, we are delighted to open this space generating and supporting regional development that is central to the University’s strategy,” he said.

The new facility in Dangan already has its first tenant in place, NUI Galway spin-out Orbsen Therapeutics Ltd., a leading company in the development of cellular immunotherapies across four immune-mediated inflammatory conditions.

Dr Larry Couture, CEO of Orbsen Therapeutics Ltd., said Orbsen originated from the world class science at NUI Galway.

“As a start-up R&D company, we benefited greatly from our close proximity to the research community and core services on campus, but as we’ve grown to be a clinical stage company, the lack of suitable laboratory space in the area for emerging biopharmaceutical companies made relocation inevitable.

“The Dangan facility is exactly what we and the local emerging biopharmaceutical community desperately need and it will allow Orbsen to remain and continue to grow in the Galway area.”

For Orbsen Therapeutics this additional space will accommodate the company’s increasing staff and prepare for the next phase of growth as they close additional funding rounds to support the development of novel therapies.

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