University College Dublin has launched an innovative strategic partnership with global biopharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb to support the university’s drive to expand skills and talent supply to meet growing demand for well-qualified graduates in Ireland’s expanding pharma sector.
Bristol-Myers Squibb is currently building a $1 billion new Biologics manufacturing facility in Cruiserath, Co. Dublin, which is scheduled to be operational in 2019, employing 400 people, about half of whom are already recruited and employed in a range of functions and training programmes. This is one of the largest foreign direct investments in the history of the State and is a significant contributor to that increased demand for science and technology graduates.
A memorandum of understanding between the two organisations, signed by Bristol-Myers Squibb Biologics Ireland General Manager, Dr Noel Heaney, and UCD President, Professor Andrew Deeks, will see collaborations across a variety of areas with the main focus on talent, research, and corporate social responsibility.
In the area of talent, course content will be reviewed to ensure that changing industry needs are being met; BMS staff will contribute to courses including review and content where appropriate as well as visit UCD to give visiting lectures, career talks and advice; and BMS will look at establishing a formal internship programme for UCD students.
The partnership will further connect Bristol-Myers Squibb and University College Dublin researchers and students to help fuel the innovation economy in Ireland. The two organisations have enjoyed a longstanding relationship which with the new partnership work-plan agreed and in place will see them collaborate on a number of research activities. This will be further expanded with new shared objectives being defined in relation to research and innovation activities while the possibility of industry PhDs to build linkages between BMS and UCD Schools will be explored.
The corporate social responsibility element of the partnership will see the development of a strategy which may include initiatives such as scholarship and awards schemes for outstanding students, scholarship programmes for students from disadvantaged backgrounds or with special needs, and support for DEIS schools teaching STEM subjects to school children.
Commenting on the significance of the new partnership Dr Noel Heaney said: “At Bristol-Myers Squibb we have been proactively developing our advanced manufacturing capability in Ireland over the last 50 years. This development has been supported by the strong relationships we have built with academic institutions and the innovation community across Ireland. Our partnership with UCD is one which is well established and multi-faceted and has contributed towards many of our recent successes. This agreement signals a new strategic approach to our engagement with UCD which will consolidate and build on this important relationship.”
Dr Brendan Hughes, Biologics, VP Manufacturing and Science Technology with BMS added: “We are very pleased to have this opportunity to work with teachers and researchers of the calibre of the UCD team as we build our science and technology capability at Cruiserath.”
UCD President, Professor Andrew Deeks said: “I am particularly pleased that our partnership with Bristol-Myers Squibb will contribute directly to the national economy. In addition to working together in research and corporate social responsibility, collaboration in talent development will provide excellent opportunities for the next generation of scientists and engineers.”