Blog Article 25 Oct 2018
Biotechnology company Regeneron had two reasons to be cheerful after the inaugural Invest in Ireland Awards in October. The company came away with the Grand Prix and also won the ‘Excellence in Regional Investment’ category. The recognition follows five years of expansion in Ireland since the company first announced its presence here in 2013.

Regeneron’s own rapid growth as a company has been mirrored in its Ireland operations. It employs 800 people in Ireland and has invested $750 million to transform the former Dell factory at Raheen Business Park in Limerick into a 400,000 square foot, state-of-the-art bulk biologics production facility. It is now the largest site of its kind in Ireland, producing life-transforming medicines for people with serious diseases.
Yet almost in contrast to the cutting-edge biotechnology, intuition played a part in the company’s choice of Limerick as the location for its biologics facility. “Gut feel is a large portion of any site selection,” said Dan Van Plew, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Industrial Operations and Product Supply (IOPS) at Regeneron. Speaking on a visit to Limerick, he said: “When we picked Limerick years ago, we simply felt good about the community, universities and people. A few years and a lot of experience later, I can now confidently say I know Limerick is a place where you can build and thrive as a biotech.”
Regeneron’s Regional Investment award takes on extra significance in light of Van Plew’s comments that much of the work on the site was completed by people who come from Munster. “These folks built, validated and began production in a way I’d put up against any other team on the planet. We feel at home here and the way we have been welcomed has made our ongoing growth and investment in Limerick rewarding on the most personal levels,” he said.
Ivor Downey, Regeneron’s HR director, said the Limerick location has proved beneficial in many ways. “We’ve been lucky on a number of fronts in that we’re based in the Midwest, so we’ve been able to provide an opportunity for experienced candidates – people from north Kerry, Clare, Tipperary who were finding Dublin or Cork unaffordable and congested. Limerick provided a good opportunity for experienced people to come back and bring up their families here where housing is more affordable, and the quality of life is better. We’ve had a lot of success in attracting people from these locations and hiring from abroad the Irish diaspora.”
The company’s connection to the wider local community is cemented further through partnerships with universities and institutes of technology. “We’ve tended to beat our goals on a lot of the hiring rounds, with support from IDA Ireland, the local Chamber and American Chamber, local businesses and council. On the people front, colleges, primarily University of Limerick (UL), National University of Ireland Galway (NUIG), University College Cork (UCC) and Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), have all come on board in terms of supporting our internship opportunities and supporting our graduate programmes,” said Downey. Regeneron recently doubled the scale of its internship programme with UL last year, and this is feeding talent for 2019 and beyond. This year alone, it will have more than 70 interns/co-ops on site.
Ireland was home to Regeneron’s first international location. A year before construction began on the Limerick site, the company opened its first international location with an office in Dublin in 2013. The Dublin team is a multifunctional group consisting of clinical operations, regulatory affairs, external manufacturing, risk management, procurement and commercialisation, as well as finance and other administrative functions
By 2015, Regeneron was celebrating the hire of its 350th employee in Ireland and beginning construction on new quality control labs and process sciences building at the Limerick site, housing a team of specialists in commercial manufacturing, process sciences, quality assurance, quality control and supply chain, supported by the IT, HR, finance and procurement functions.
The company’s positive experience in Limerick puts it on a solid footing for the years ahead – and potentially more Invest in Ireland awards. “The workforce, the available talent and the pipeline of talent in the future has given us confidence in terms of our growth plans into the future,” Downey said. "Our organisation is now more mature and moving from a start-up mentality to focus on building an enduring culture and great place to work experience for our employees.”
This article originally appeared in the Summer edition of Innovation Ireland Review magazine.

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