PPD's base in the IDA Business and Technology Park, Athlone.

Major jobs boost for Athlone announced

Athlone-based firm PPD has announced the creation of 180 new pharma jobs over the next three years.

Based in the IDA Business and Technology Park, Athlone, PPD is expanding its GMP (good manufacturing practices) laboratory by almost doubling the size of its current facility.

The current 4,460 square metres (48,000 square foot) operation will grow to 7,710 square metres (83,000 square foot) on completion of the project, which is expected to be fully functional by mid-2022, and is projected to create 180 new jobs over the next three years.

The current Athlone operation employs nearly 300 highly skilled scientists and project managers who support the demand for PPD’s services, which includes testing to support the development of novel and advanced pharmaceuticals and therapies.

The US pharma giant, whose headquarters is in North Carolina, says this latest expansion enhances PPD’s ability to deliver global scientific and technical expertise to meet growing customer demand in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region.

By offering these services at its Athlone operation, PPD can provide clients in these locations with the same services already available in the US through its Middleton, Wisconsin, GMP lab.

“Our enlarged operations will enhance our capabilities in leading technologies related to biopharmaceutical testing and specialty testing for biologics and small molecules,” said Christopher Fikry, M.D., executive vice president of PPD Laboratories.

“This expansion will enable PPD to provide customers with additional services aimed at reducing time to market for new drug products in important areas such as cell and gene therapies. We are thankful our expansion has been welcomed and supported by the Irish government and IDA Ireland, and we’re confident these new developments will benefit our customers,” he added.

Back in March, the Westmeath Independent reported that an existing “multinational in the life science sector” based in the IDA Business and Technology Park, Athlone was set to grow substantially, with news of a €9.3 million investment in a new premises beside its current home.

Yew Grove REIT plc, which owns a diversified portfolio of Irish commercial assets, said the new building of approximately 37,000 square feet will be constructed by JJ Rhatigan for an agreed cost of €9.3 million on land owned by Yew Grove adjacent to one of the company's existing buildings.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD described the jobs boost yesterday as “a really positive development for Athlone and the Midlands Region.”

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment with responsibility for Trade Promotion Robert Troy TD said: “I am delighted to see PPD announce plans to expand its presence in Athlone. This is a significant expansion, which will result in the creation of 180 jobs for highly skilled scientists.

“This announcement demonstrates that Athlone and the Midlands region have the skills, talent, people and connectivity that will enable companies like PPD to embed and grow their operations here.”

CEO of IDA Ireland Martin Shanahan added that the announcement by PPD demonstrates the company’s commitment to Ireland and indeed the Midlands Region where it has been in operation for more than 10 years.

“It will allow the company to avail itself of the rich talent pool that exists in the Midlands and will provide an economic and employment boost to the local and wider Midlands region. We wish PPD continued success.”de