Funding for Industrial Projects
The PMBRC has attracted over €2.7 million since 2008 for collaborations with Irish companies. Funding has come from national and European sources and from industry itself. Some of the schemes available to companies include:
Enterprise Ireland Innovation Vouchers
For small companies (<50 employees and <€10m turnover), the Innovation Voucher scheme is a great way to get involved with a research centre. Enterprise Ireland issues the voucher for up to €5000 and the company can use this to hire a knowledge provider (such as the PMBRC) to help solve a problem or develop a product. The PMBRC have successfully completed numerous innovation voucher projects and have a pipeline of ongoing projects with companies across Ireland.
Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnerships
For larger companies or more extensive projects, the Enterprise Ireland Innovation Partnership scheme can provide significant funding for companies to engage in industrial research. Projects are typically of a 6 – 18 month duration. Grant levels range from 40 – 80% depending on the size of the company, the nature of the research and the ownership of intellectual property resulting from the partnership. The PMBRC have successfully completed Innovation Partnerships with MSD, Genzyme Ireland Ltd. and Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland, with other projects ongoing.
IRC Enterprise Partnership Scheme
The Irish Research Council (IRC) run an enterprise partnership scheme which funds postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers to conduct industrial research in collaboration with a company. The company pays one third of the salary costs of the researcher. See the scheme website for further details.
The PMBRC have been successful in securing Euorpean funding through Framework Partnership 7 (FP7). FP7 has now been superceded by Horizon 2020 and a number of industry-academic partnerships are funded by this scheme. See the Irish Horizon 2020 website or contact us for more information.
Directly Funded Industry Projects
For contract analysis, urgent projects or where full intellectual property ownership is required, many companies opt to fund the research directly themselves.The PMBRC has delivered substantial projects for Pinewood Healthcare, Teva Pharmaceuticals and Waters Technologies in this way, along with numerous contract analysis jobs for over 50 companies.
The following case studies illustrate some of the past and current industry collaborations at the PMBRC.
Case Study 1: Innovation Partnership with Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland
Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland is part of Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd, the world’s leading generic pharmaceutical company. Teva’s Waterford plant is responsible for the manufacture and development of respiratory products for supply to the United States and other global markets. The Spiromax® Dry Powder Inhaler (DPI) is a proprietary technology developed by Teva for the treatment of respiratory conditions. DPIs contain fine drug particles blended with a carrier material (usually lactose). In order to work properly the drug must stick to the lactose particles, but not adhere too strongly such that they do not detach on actuation. The physicochemical properties of the drug and lactose are critical to getting this balance right. This project aimed to help Teva understand the critical material properties required for the optimum performance of the Spiromax® DPI.
The PMBRC Technology Gateway used a variety of characterisation techniques to understand the properties of the raw materials involved and probe the interactions between the drug and carrier. In particular the researchers were able to understand the effect of certain formulation and processing factors which affected the performance of the device. The work in this project focussed on a single DPI product and the work has enabled Teva to understand the optimal formulation and process parameters for the manufacture of that product. The analytical techniques developed as part of the project and the knowledge gained can now be applied to all other DPI products currently in development in Teva, Waterford. A number of invention disclosures and academic publications are currently in preparation. Teva have agreed to fund the continuation of the research for a further two years.
“The work carried out by the PMBRC on the project has significantly enhanced our understanding of the drug-carrier interactions in our DPI product. Pharmaceutical regulators demand a thorough understanding of the factors affecting drug product performance. The knowledge gained in this project will help us to meet our regulatory obligations and will also have a knock-on effect on products currently in development. We are so pleased with the research that we have agreed to fully fund the continuation of the work for a further two years”.
Dr. Julian Blair, Senior Director of R&D, Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland
Case Study 2: Co-funded Innovation Voucher with Xeolas Pharmaceuticals
Xeolas Pharmaceuticals is a cutting edge start-up Irish speciality pharmaceutical company based in Dublin. Xeolas develops medicinal products for niche markets, specialising in value-added, innovative or novel formulations of established active substances. Xeolas is an R&D based, technology focussed company. The Dublin base focusses on project management, development planning, clinical development, regulatory, quality and logistics with an expansion plan in 2014 bringing R&D, clinical and small-scale manufacture in-house.
Xeolas is developing a novel, liquid formulation of a drug for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. The drug is normally supplied as a tablet, but Xeolas wish to develop a liquid formulation for use in paediatric patients or patients that are unable to swallow tablets. The drug is not very stable in water however and tends to degrade over time in liquid formulations.
In collaboration with Xeolas, researchers at the PMBRC prepared a number of prototype formulations designed to prevent degradation of the drug in water. The researchers developed analytical methods and used these to assess the stability of the prototype formulations over a period of time. The results have been promising and have proved that a stable formulation of this drug can be prepared if the formulation components are carefully controlled. Xeolas now wish to develop this product further and it has become an important part of the company’s R&D portfolio.
Case Study 3: Direct Funded Collaboration with Waters Technologies Ireland
Waters Technologies Ireland, located in Drinagh, Wexford, is the primary manufacturing infrastructure for Waters Corp Mass Spectrometry Instruments, LC Chemistry consumable, Clinical testing and Data Informatics products worldwide. Specifically Waters generates business advantages for laboratory-dependent organizations by delivering practical and sustainable scientific innovation to enable significant advancement in healthcare delivery, environmental management, food safety, and water quality and employs over 300 people. Waters products are used by pharmaceutical, life science, biochemical, industrial, academic and government organizations working in research and development, quality assurance and other laboratory applications.
The PMBRC has established an ongoing relationship with Waters, supporting their manufacturing and R&D activities. Central to this relationship is the strong analytical capability in the PMBRC including HPLC, LC/MS, GC/MS, NMR, AFM and thermal analysis techniques. The centre has supported Waters in a range of process optimisation, quality investigation and product development projects. The strong research activity in the PMBRC in the area of analytical science has also benefitted the R&D programme at the Waters Technologies Ireland site.
“Having the PMBRC on our doorstep has been really important for us in Waters over the last number of years. The ease of access to the equipment and scientific team in the centre has enabled us to rapidly progress quality investigations and R&D projects which were urgent for the site. We have a very good relationship with the team in the centre and now see their capability almost as part of the overall capability of the Wexford site”. Pat Curtis, Principal Process Chemist.
Case Study 4: Innovation Partnership with Genzyme Ireland Ltd.
The PMBRC completed a 3-year Enterprise Ireland innovation partnership research project with Genzyme Ireland Ltd. in June 2013. The project involved relating critical quality attributes of incoming raw materials to the performance of the manufacturing process. Further details of this collaboration remain confidential between Genzyme and the PMBRC.
Case Study 5: Identification of impurities in a tablet product for EirGen Pharma Ltd.
EirGen Pharma Ltd. required assistance with the identification of three unknown impurities in a tablet product, Eir-010, which were observed to form during stability testing. The company did not have the analytical equipment or expertise required to identify the compounds and approached the PMBRC to help.
The PMBRC has a suite of analytical equipment and trained researchers ideally suited to tackle this problem. Firstly the tablets were analysed by HPLC-MS and GC-MS to determine the molecular weight of each impurity. Tablets were then subjected to forced thermal degradation and appreciable quantities of each impurity were isolated using preparative chromatography. The 1H NMR spectra of the extracted impurities were measured at 400 MHz. The mass spectrometry and NMR data were then used to determine the identity of each impurity. The results were presented to the company in the form of a technical report.
The impurity problem was a significant hurdle in the development of Eir-010 and threatened to halt the filing of the product. EirGen were able to use the data generated to support the filing of Eir-010 with the European Medicine Agency (EMA). Eir-010 will be commercially launched in key European markets, with sales worth €20m forecast over the next five years. See IOTI flyer of this case study.
Case Study 6: Fluid Bed Drying Trials for Temmler Ireland Ltd.
Temmler Ireland Ltd. were looking to introduce a new product to their manufacturing site and requested the PMBRC to conduct fluid bed drying (FBD) trials on a granulate. The purpose of the trials was to determine the feasibility of drying the granulate using FBD prior to scale up in their manufacturing plant. The trials were successfully completed and the granulate characterised using the analysis equipment available in the PMBRC. Temmler are now planning to proceed with the new product introduction.