The Craigavon-based Almac Group has announced a £4.6m investment in a research and development collaboration with Queen’s University Belfast supported by Invest Northern Ireland in the area of biocatalyst discovery and development.
The three year ground-breaking project, which will enable Almac to build on its expertise in the field, is intended to find new platforms and products which can be used in applications as diverse as developing new synthetic routes to active pharmaceutical ingredients, flavours, fragrances, agrochemicals and fine chemicals.
Biocatalysis is the application of enzymes to perform chemical transformation under mild conditions. These enzymes have the potential to lower the cost of chemical manufacture, simplify supply chain and, as they are environmentally friendly, produce significantly less waste than traditional methods. This investment will introduce faster and better methods of accessing novel enzymes with unique properties that are required for cutting-edge chemical processes.
Head of Biocatalysis at Almac Group, Professor Tom Moody, said. “The biocatalyst is the future for scale-up chemistry as it provides efficient, clean and robust processes. The multi-million pound research and development investment demonstrates Almac’s continued commitment to biocatalysis, supporting further growth in our expertise and capabilities in biotechnology.”
Dr Chris Allen, Senior Lecturer in the School of Biological Sciences is Principal Investigator on the grant at Queen’s University. 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 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.”
The QUB team will comprise a range of experienced computational and molecular biologists, including senior personnel 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.”
|Period||02 Feb 2015|