This article was updated by Willow Shah-Neville on March 17, 2023.
Shamrocks, leprechauns, rolling green fields and Guinness beer all quickly bring Ireland to mind. Beyond these postcard-ready images, Ireland has an economy on the upswing and is a preferred destination for some big pharmas. But what about biotech? Here we explore 7 biotech companies from Ireland.
The low corporate tax policies of Ireland have managed to attract some big names from various sectors, and the life sciences industry is no exception. U.S. pharma giant Pfizer has a considerable investment there in R&D and manufacturing sites, having announced in December 2022 that it is investing a further €1.2 billion ($1.26 billion) into its Grange Castle site in Dublin. The likes of GE Healthcare, Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie, and other multinationals also have facilities in the country. Meanwhile, Prothena and Alkermes are examples of sizeable biopharmas that have Ireland as their corporate home.
But the biotech ecosystem in Ireland is also made up of smaller native biotech companies. Some are based on developments of academic centers, like the renowned Trinity College Dublin. We went looking for the top biotech companies from Ireland.
Thank you to the Ireland insiders who helped us put this list together. As usual, the companies are not in any particular order.
Table of contents
Founded in 2011, Allogen Biotech develops devices to detect food contamination and allergens. The biotech company has gathered investment and awards from the startup ecosystem in Ireland, as well as prizes from the food industry.
Allogen Biotech is developing its technology in collaboration with the Institute of Technology Tallaght and its R&D facility for biosensors, MiCRA. After early proof of concepts studies, it is undergoing product development for a commercial solution. In 2016, it received €50k from an EU research grant.
DS Biopharma was founded in 2010 and develops a technology platform of bioactive lipids. The semi-synthetic fatty acids it develops can have broad applications, from inflammatory skin diseases to metabolic disorders.
Phase II and III trials are currently underway for its leading candidate, DS107, as a topical cream for mild to moderate atopic dermatitis (AD) (phase III), and as an oral capsule for moderate to severe AD (phase II).
The Irish biotech is also exploring other indications and a second candidate. It launched a spin-out company, Afimmune, to continue its clinical development of DS102, for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Focused on cancer diagnostics, Oncomark is a spin-out of the University College Dublin. The biotech company was founded in 2007 and has raised a considerable amount from EU funding for research, startup supporters like Enterprise Ireland, and angel investors.
It develops novel cancer biomarkers, a very active area in the biotech industry, which can help tailor oncology treatments. Oncomark’s leading product is OncoMasTR, a multi-parameter prognostic test for ER-positive, HER2-negative early breast cancer patients.
Based in Galway, Orbsen Therapeutics develops novel cell therapies. It was formed in 2006 as a spin-out from Ireland’s Regenerative Medicine Institute (REMEDI).
Orbsen Therapeutic’s key technology is a novel method to isolate and purify mesenchymal stromal cells (MSC), which can be administered to patients as an allogenic cell therapy.
In 2020, the company launched a phase IIa clinical trial for the treatment of patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) using its next-generation stromal cell immunotherapy, ORBCEL. ORBCEL is also being tested in the phase I/IIa EU Horizon 2020-funded clinical trial, NEPHSTROM, for Diabetic Kidney Disease.
Solvotrin Therapeutics wants to improve existing medication. Based in Cork in the South of Ireland, the biotech company was founded in 2009 as a spin-out of Trinity College Dublin. In its latest funding round in 2020, it raised €6.7 million, leading to the company being valued at €45 million.
Solvotrin Therapeutics’ programs are based on research on prodrugs, medications that become active only after metabolization and often have improved bioavailability. Its has developed a range of oral iron products, known as Active Iron, an improved iron supplement that is currently available in 15 markets worldwide.
The company is now looking to unlock further market opportunities with an Active Iron 2.0, and also has an aspirin-based portfolio in its pipeline.
Metabolomic Diagnostics was founded in 2011 and collaborated with the University College Cork in breakthrough technology for medical diagnostics, with a specific focus on prenatal health.
The company’s diagnostics currently focus on preeclampsia, a disease that can result in serious pregnancy complications. M-SCOUT is Metabolomic Diagnostics’ proprietary LC-MS/MS-based translational research platform, integrating multiple essential building blocks needed to identify, quantify and select combinations of metabolite biomarkers relevant to a specific condition.
Genomics Medicine Ireland
Founded in 2015, Genomics Medicine Ireland managed to raise €36 million in its first financing round for this health discovery project that spans the entire country.
The biotech company’s aim is to look into the human genome of the Irish population and examine and find relationships between genetics, health and disease. It brings together researchers, clinicians, and Artificial Intelligence to tackle the next generation of health challenges.
The company is currently involved in genomic research for a range of diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s disease, brain tumors and inflammatory bowel disease (IBS).
Ireland has an exciting mix of therapeutic biotech tackling some of the most relevant health conditions, bringing in novel research insights, and companies in the areas of diagnostics, devices and bioinformatics. Together with the supporting net of big life science companies and a startup-friendly environment, we should be able to see some great things come out of Irish biotech.