Almac Group announced a $7 million investment in a significant collaborative research and development expansion with Queens University Belfast (QUB) supported by Invest Northern Ireland in the area of biocatalyst discovery and development.
The ground-breaking project involves the further development of the Group’s biocatalysis services and will enable the team to build upon their considerable existing expertise. The 3 year development programme will be in conjunction with QUB to provide new, best-in-class biocatalyst platforms and products for the global active pharmaceutical ingredient, flavour & fragrance, agrochemical and fine chemical sectors.
The investment will establish a unique dedicated biotechnology research team who will accelerate the development of bioinformatics, molecular modelling and enzyme evolution. This will facilitate the introduction of faster and superior methods to access novel enzymes with unique properties that are required for scale-up chemistry.
“The biocatalyst is the future for scale-up chemistry involving chirality as it provides efficient, clean and robust processes. The $7m R&D investment demonstrates Almac’s continued commitment to biocatalysis, supporting further growth in our expertise and capabilities in biotechnology”. Notes Head of Biocatalysis Professor Tom Moody.
Dr Chris Allen, Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences is Principal Investigator on the grant at QUB. He said: “Biocatalysis and industrial biotechnology are now becoming critical drivers in both the local and global economies. This research project will help to build the knowledge base and expertise in these fields for both Almac Sciences and QUB. The project also demonstrates how different subject areas in QUB – in this case Biological Sciences and Chemistry – can be combined to develop exciting new research opportunities.”
Other academic staff involved are Dr Meilan Huang (School of Chemistry & Chemical Engineering) and Dr Leonid Kulakov (School of Biological Sciences).
Invest NI has offered Almac Group £1.5 million of research and development assistance, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund towards this project.
Jeremy Fitch, Invest NI’s Executive Director of Business Solutions said: “This investment in collaborative research and development is good news for Northern Ireland’s growing life sciences sector and will help to strengthen Almac’s expertise in biotechnology.
“Almac has a reputation for excellence in the international pharmaceutical sector and this latest R&D investment will ensure that it remains in a competitive position and can continue to meet the needs of its global client base.”
Stephen Barr, Managing Director, Almac’s Sciences business unit commented: “Today’s announcement is the latest in a series of investments made by Almac over recent years and represents our commitment to building and sustaining an innovative service offering to satisfy growing client demand. We very much look forward to working together with our clients on this exciting project”