Ireland has been chosen by biomanufacturing company WuXi Biologics as it sought a foothold in Europe for its first manufacturing site outside of China.
At a 26-hectare campus adjacent to the M1 motorway, it will employ 400 people in what is currently an IDA greenfield site at Mullagharlin, Dundalk.
The company will establish a €325m biologics drug substance manufacturing facility and chief executive officer Dr Chris Chen said: “We want to build a global manufacturing network and this is the start.”
It is understood that access to the European Union was again a key factor for the company choosing to locate in Dundalk, as well as Ireland’s reputation as a centre of excellence for the pharma industry.
“We are all excited to initiate our first global site to enable local companies and expedite biologics development in Europe,” added Dr Chen.
Headquartered in the city of Wuxi, near Shanghai in eastern China, WuXi Biologics provides end-to-end solutions for biologics with a mission to accelerate and transform biologics discovery, development and manufacturing.
It is designed to be able to run continuous bio-processing, a next-generation manufacturing technology.
Vice-president of manufacturing Brendan McGrath said: “We wanted to get closer to our customers and we want to be able to offer a service to customers in Europe that is unmet at the moment.
“This is a very innovative, forward-thinking company.
“This is groundbreaking from an Ireland perspective and it shows Ireland is able and is in a position to lead from the front.
“It is a unique opportunity for Ireland and we want to embrace it and hopefully grow the company from what we start here.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described the announcement as “the start of something special”.
“It’s the first sizable greenfield project from China in the pharma sector and I am delighted to see it located here in Dundalk,” Mr Varadkar said.
Dundalk Fine Gael TD Peter Fitzpatrick said: “The 400 jobs being created, along with some 700 jobs at the construction phase, will be of substantial benefit to the region.
“This investment is a reflection of the great work being done by the IDA, Enterprise Ireland, Louth county council, Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, and many more.”