PMBRC Technology Gateway

 

The PMBRC Technology Gateway is co-financed by the Government of Ireland and the European Union through the ERDF Southern, Eastern & Midland Regional Programme 2021-2027

 

Industry Collaboration

Partnership with the regional and national pharmaceutical and healthcare industry is at the core of the PMBRC’s activities. The centre is involved in collaborative projects with industry ranging from large-scale research projects to short term feasibility studies and contract analysis. The PMBRC has a proven track record in attracting funding from national and international sources.

The PMBRC is part of the Enterprise Ireland Technology Gateway network, a group of 17 research centres based within the Technological Universities and Institutes of Technology across Ireland. The Technology Gateways deliver technology solutions for Irish industry of all sizes close to their market needs. For further details please visit the Technology Gateways webpage.

PMBRC Aims & Results

Each individual Technology Gateway acts as a bridge, or gateway, between research groups in the host institution and local companies and targets industry sectors relevant to the core capabilities of the nominated research group. The PMBRC Technology Gateway aims to manage the interaction between the companies and SETU, help the companies articulate their technical issues that need to be resolved, source state or EU funding where appropriate, and ensure projects are delivered successfully.

This intervention will encourage and assist SETU to engage with industry on a national and regional basis. This will drive an increased level of innovation amongst user companies resulting in higher levels of new product / service development and job creation and retention.

The Technology Gateway Network, comprised of all Technology Gateways across Ireland, is leveraged to ensure an open-door policy for all potential users. In essence, a company in one region can work with a research group in another by utilising their local Technology Gateway as the access point.

In summary, the PMBRC will:

  • Provide an open access point for industry
  • Deliver close-to-market solutions for Irish industry
  • Be regionally based
  • Act as a regional portal to the nationwide expertise in Irish Research Infrastructure

Industry-Led Steering Committee

To ensure the relevance of the centre to the needs of industry, the PMBRC reports to an industry-led steering committee comprising of senior figures from the local pharmaceutical sector. The committee meets four times a year and consists of the R&D/Technical Directors of the following companies:

  • Bausch & Lomb
  • EirGen Pharma Ltd.
  • Genzyme Ireland Ltd.
  • MSD Ireland Ltd.
  • TEVA Pharmaceuticals Ireland
  • Waters Technologies Ireland

Funding for Industrial Projects

In the past decade, the PMBRC has attracted over €15 million in research/industrial funding. Funding has come from National and European sources and from Industry itself. Some of the key funding 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.

 

European Funding

The PMBRC have been successful in securing European funding through Horizon 2020. Horizon 2020 has now been superceded by Horizon Europe and a number of industry-academic partnerships are funded by this scheme. See the Irish Horizon Europe 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.

Contract Analysis

The PMBRC conducts one-off and routine contract analysis for companies. Typical requests include identification of contaminants (ICP metal analysis, FTIR, GC-MS), microscopy (optical, SEM), and particle size analysis (laser diffraction). A full list of our equipment is available on our Equipment and Facilities page.

Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Management

The confidentiality of our client’s information is taken seriously in the PMBRC. The SETU Technology Transfer Office is available to arrange any necessary legal agreements and to assist with the management of intellectual property.

Case Studies

The following case studies illustrate some of the current and past industry collaborations at the PMBRC:

 

Case Study 1: Innovation Voucher with Antech Solutions Ltd.

Project Title: Development of HPLC solvent waste reduction unit.

Profile of Company: Based in Waterford, Antech are a multi-award winning provider of handheld spectrometers, analysers and Process Analytical Technology (PAT) solutions. Antech serve a wide variety of sectors including pharmaceuticals, biopharma, nutraceutical, chemical companies, academia, food manufacturers and the recycling industry.

The company is especially focused on meeting the regulatory challenges required within GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) facilities by providing processes, procedures, documentation and expertise that exceed the industry needs.

How the PMBRC delivered a solution for the Company: Antech have developed a device which can be installed on High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) systems which dramatically reduces the amount of organic solvent waste generated during GMP laboratory analysis. Antech needed to test and refine the device in a real laboratory environment to confirm the effectiveness of the device and show that it could robustly perform under typical analysis conditions.

The PMBRC installed the device on their instrumentation and challenged the performance of the device under a series of analysis runs. The data generated was shared with Antech who then refined the software and hardware to improve its practical functionality. In addition, parameters for analytical test methods were optimised to enable future device IQOQPQ (Installation, Operational and Performance Qualification) tests. These IQOQPQ protocols are essential to ensure that devices will be delivered, installed and function correctly for use within the highly regulated Life
Science markets.

Ultimately this project was able to confirm the effectiveness and robustness of the Antech technology to reduce solvent waste during typical laboratory analysis.

Impact for the Company: The project allowed Antech to confirm the performance of their device in a real analytical laboratory and refine its functionality based on the results. This in turn has enabled Antech to offer this product to potential customers

Company Testimonial:The work completed by PMBRC provided a local, highly professional and industry-aware partner for Antech to verify our product functionality within a live laboratory environment. During early meetings it became evident that the PMBRC team totally understood our product proposition and are fully aware of the regulatory challenges that we wish to overcome for our target market. Timely data generation and reporting helped us to meet our product development roadmap and has ensured Antech can move towards the latter stages of our product commercialisation” – Dermot Harrington, Managing Director, Antech Solutions Ltd.

 

Case Study 2: Innovation Voucher with Reso Health Ltd.

Project Title: Development of nutritional supplement formulations.

Profile of Company: Based in Waterford, Reso Health Ltd. is a Life Sciences company redefining the role of functional nutrition in the workplace. Reso Health are addressing the issue of poor nutrition in the workplace, and the resulting personal and professional costs. The solution can be as simple as providing access to proper nutrition to help with employee well-being, improving cognition, energy, or resilience levels, and allowing employees to be healthier and happier.

Reso Health has broken down the standard multi-vitamin into individual essential vitamins, minerals and flavours, making it easy for our customers to build a product that works for them when they need it most. Their personalisation platform converts a customer’s health status, goals, demographics and lifestyle into an individual multivitamin recipe, which is then prepared by a dispensing machine as a tasty supplement drink, ready to enjoy in a range of flavours.

How the PMBRC delivered a solution for the Company: Reso Health are developing nutritional supplement formulations that can be readily dispensed into drinks. The PMBRC were asked to support the formulation of nutritional extracts which could be conveniently handled by the consumer, deliver a fixed amount of extract and maintain the critical quality attributes of the extract (e.g. extract stability, appearance, beverage dispersibility) over time. The PMBRC evaluated a number of different formulation approaches and made recommendations on the future formulation strategy of the nutritional supplements.

Impact for the Company: The project allowed Reso Health to rule out certain formulation approaches which were unsuitable for the target extracts and instead focus on formulation routes which were more likely to succeed. This has enabled Reso Health to push forward with their product development programme.

Company Testimonial: The PMBRC helped us to try out various strategies for the formulation of our nutritional extracts. We were able to identify the best approach for dispensing these extracts into drinks and we are progressing our product development programme on the back of the results from the project” – Ken O’Shea, Co-founder and CTO, Reso Health Ltd.

 

Case Study 3: Directly Funded Study with GSK (Dungarvan Site)

Project Title: Relating material properties to manufacturing performance and product quality.

Profile of Company: GSK’s Dungarvan manufacturing site started operations in 1981 and is now one of the largest employers in the south east of Ireland. The site supplies more than 70 global markets with pain relief and denture care products. A centre of packaging excellence, the site boasts a committed workforce with technical, engineering, quality and operational expertise.

How the PMBRC delivered a solution for the Company: GSK Dungarvan manufactures high-volume products such as Panadol (6.5 billion tablets a year) for international export. The high-volume nature of the operations requires a consistent and reliable supply chain of active ingredients and excipients. While there are many potential suppliers for these ingredients, not every source is suitable for GSK’s products and manufacturing processes. Certain physico-chemical properties such as particle size, powder flow, porosity, crystal polymorphs, water sorption and dissolution are required for high throughput manufacturing and to ensure the quality of the finished product.

The PMBRC Technology Gateway has a highly experienced team of solid-state pharmaceutical scientists backed up by academic staff that are actively involved in drug product formulation and materials characterisation research. Using a suite of advanced characterisation techniques, the Technology Gateway works with the GSK team to investigate the material properties and determine the ingredient sources most suitable for their products and manufacturing processes. For example, the recent acquisition of an X-ray Diffractometer with an Environmental Chamber (funded by the Enterprise Ireland Capital Infrastructure Programme) allows the study of ingredient polymorphs (crystal forms) as a function of temperature and relative humidity. This, in turn, allows GSK to understand, optimise and trial materials most likely to best perform during manufacture and yield a good shelf-life on storage.

Impact for the Company: Collaboration with the PMBRC Technology Gateway has allowed GSK Dungarvan to identify the best raw material sources for key products in their portfolio and has supported maintenance of the highest quality standards.

Company Testimonial: The PMBRC offers GSK Dungarvan a local, highly professional and agile materials characterisation support, with timely data generation, thus helping GSK maintain and meet our business expectations. The PMBRC has allowed GSK conduct critical materials characterisation, supporting supplier introductions, along with root cause analyses investigations, ensuring ongoing supply of GSK Consumer Healthcare Products” – Dr. Patrick Mooney, Raw Materials Technical Change Specialist, GSK, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.

 

Case Study 4: Innovation Voucher with TriviumVet

Project Title: Development of an analytical method for the detection of a disease biomarker in horses.

Profile of Company: Based in Waterford, TriviumVet uses cutting-edge healthcare and pharmaceutical technologies to create clever, highly effective and functional products for the veterinary market. The TriviumVet pipeline comprises innovative treatments for diseases where there are no specific veterinary approved drugs. TriviumVet Diagnostics, a division of TriviumVet, is developing novel diagnostic tools with applications in both animal and human healthcare.

The company focuses on adapting cutting edge technology developed for human medicine to improve the accessibility for pets. Therapeutic candidates are formulated for species specific suitability, tested for safety and efficacy and are then submitted to the FDA (Centre for Veterinary Medicine) and the EMA European Medicines Agency (CVMP) for approval. The company has a product development pipeline targeting a range of canine, feline and equine conditions.

How the PMBRC delivered a solution for the Company: TriviumVet are developing a product to treat a debilitating condition in horses for which there is no approved treatment on the market. As part of this work, the company needed a sensitive analytical method which could detect and quantify a biomarker in blood samples. This task was made difficult by the low levels of the biomarker in the blood coupled with a range of interfering compounds and sample matrix components. The PMBRC Gateway developed a sample clean-up technique and demonstrated that the target biomarker could be quantified at low levels using ion chromatography.

Impact for the Company: The success of the project allowed TriviumVet to proceed with clinical studies of their treatment which are currently underway.

Company Testimonial:The PMBRC helped us progress this project from a concept to a working diagnostic aid that can be used not only to progress our internal development work, but also to benefit veterinary patients in the field. Niall, Gautam and the wider PMBRC team went above and beyond our expectations to deliver on a challenging brief. We will certainly be working with this group again on other R&D projects in the future” – Stuart Fitzgerald, Head of Clinical Affairs, TriviumVet.

 

Case Study 5: Innovation Partnership (Feasibility Study) with PepsiCo

Project Title: Characterisation of raw materials used in concentrates.

Profile of Company: PepsiCo is a leader in the global food and beverage industry, operating in 200 markets, with annual revenues in excess of $60 bn. The PepsiCo Cork site is home to 700 manufacturing and R&D personnel. The Research and Development (R&D) team includes product and packaging developers, and quality and regulatory personnel with a special focus on dairy, beverages, fruits and vegetables.

How the PMBRC delivered a solution for the Company: PepsiCo work with a diverse range of ingredients including sweeteners, flavourings, acids, buffers and preservatives. These ingredients come from a wide range of global suppliers. To ensure smooth running of the manufacturing process, ingredients are required to have certain physico-chemical properties such as rheometry (flow), particle size, particle shape, crystallinity and moisture sorption behaviour. Understanding how these properties affect the manufacturing process and the resulting product quality is critical for PepsiCo.

Working with the company, the PMBRC Technology Gateway selected three key ingredients from the PepsiCo supply chain and conducted a comprehensive characterisation of their properties. Differences between suppliers were identified and these differences were mapped onto process performance. Using the data generated, the project team were able to identify the ideal quality attributes of the incoming raw materials and likewise flag potential problematic batches of incoming ingredients.

Impact for the Company: Using the data generated from the project, PepsiCo were able to approach suppliers with a target profile for incoming raw materials. Potential new suppliers would have to meet certain ingredient specifications prior to being approved for use in PepsiCo manufacturing plants. PepsiCo are now expanding the project to other ingredients in their supply chain.

Company Testimonial:The work done by the PMBRC provided a real insight into how material properties impact our manufacturing process. It helped explain why some materials have historically caused problems during manufacturing and allowed us to take steps to avoid these problems in the future. During the project regular progress updates were provided. The team explained the results comprehensively which was helpful to my team as we build our knowledge in this area” – Paula Lyons, R&D Concentrate Stewardship Manager, PepsiCo R&D.

 

Case Study 6: Directly Funded Contract Research with MEDITE SMARTPLY

Project Title: Characterisation of novel wood products.

Profile of Company: MEDITE SMARTPLY is a market leading manufacturer of innovative medium density fibreboard (MDF) and oriented strand board (OSB) panels. Combining the very latest technologies, sustainable raw materials sourced from our own forests and customer-led innovation allows MEDITE SMARTPLY produce products of the highest quality, defining the standards of engineered timber panels. Their manufacturing sites in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary (MEDITE) and Waterford City (SMARTPLY) in Ireland feature the latest production technology to deliver quality products and customer service unparalleled within the industry. Continuous development and investment over the past 30 years has enabled MEDITE SMARTPLY to enter new diverse markets and sectors, ensuring that there is always a fresh pipeline of new products to address market demands.

How the PMBRC delivered a solution for the Company: MEDITE SMARTPLY believe that the next generation of wood panels products will be determined by scientific-led research and enabling technologies. The PMBRC has been an important R&D partner with MEDITE SMARTPLY since 2012, providing technical support to the product development process with an increasingly important role in our development of “Intelligent Engineered Wood Panels”. In particular, their enthusiasm and expertise combined with a wide range of analytical equipment such as DSC, TGA, DVS, HPLC-MS, and GC-MS have been used to solve complex problems and characterise new prototype products.

Impact for the Company: The equipment and expertise of the PMBRC is not available in-house in MEDITE SMARTPLY. By partnering with the PMBRC, the company has been able to develop new solutions and products and get them to market quicker than would have been possible otherwise. This in turns helps MEDITE SMARTPLY maintain its market leading position.

Company Testimonial:The PMBRC provide skills and expert knowledge essential for MEDITE SMARTPLY to deliver our growth strategy through a “Value Add” based product and service approach. Key to this strategy is the development of innovative new product solutions through scientific-led research where PMBRC are a key collaborator. It is very important that we have the expertise and facilities of PMBRC on our doorstep in the South East as this accelerates our rate of innovation” – Dr. Rory Rice, Technical Development Specialist, MEDITE SMARTPLY.

 

Case Study 7: 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.

Company Testimonial: “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 8: 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.

Company Testimonial: “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 9: 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.

 

Companies We Work With

The PMBRC are currently working on, or have completed projects with, the following companies and organisations:

 

Pharmaceutical Companies

 

Medical Device Companies

 

Food/Vetinary Companies

 

Other Industries

 

Academic Collaborations

 

Biomedical Institutions