Science sector overview

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A broad, diverse and increasingly complex area, the development and proliferation of science and research industries in Ireland has been carefully fostered by government over many years, with considerable success.

With eight of the ten leading medical device companies having substantial operations in Ireland, and with massive investments from other firms in related fields, Ireland has successfully secured a good reputation as a place where these multinational corporations, operating throughout various scientific sectors, can do business and develop. This has been enhanced by the development of related industry sectors that feed into the scientific sectors, incorporating digital technologies, cloud technology and other web based platforms. There has also been significant investment and resources put into the establishment of scientific hubs.

Science sector success

The key to Ireland’s success in the scientific sector, particularly in the area of life sciences, could be specifically attributed to a healthy synergy between state support for medical and health sciences related activity, paired then with the necessary business acumen and investment needed to attract large medical companies. Undoubtedly, Ireland’s low corporate tax regime has contributed significantly to the success of the sector, making Ireland an attractive place to do business, coupled with attractive research and development (R&D) tax incentives and funding packages which have been made available to companies working in this critical area.

2017 data from the Expert Group for Future Skills Needs says that the biopharmaceutical sector in Ireland will create approximately 8,400 new jobs by 2020. The vast majority of these jobs will be focused on biopharmaceutical science; with engineering and advanced technology skills in demand. But there will also be huge ancillary demand for roles such as human resources, supply chain management, logistics and facilities management.

Future projections

It is expected that the medical device industry will contribute a further 4,000 jobs to the economy by 2020, according to an IBEC backed report from the Irish Medtech Association earlier in 2018. Approximately a third of these roles will be based in areas such as specialist engineering and R&D. There are roles available at a variety of levels, not just for doctorate level research scientists, and it’s also important to remember that there are new jobs being created all the time in this area. Large biomedical and biopharmaceutical companies are constantly developing new processes and practices and require personnel to work on and manage these processes as part of larger projects. Companies in the scientific sphere are migrating significant amounts of technology here and they need people who are skilled in tech and data transfer to assist them with that.

Skills required

Technical skills, which work well within clinical and regulatory roles are particularly in demand from employers in this sector, particularly those with some level of working experience. However, like any industry, areas like HR, finance, marketing and tech are huge components of these organisations, particularly those with large administrative functions here, which is the case for most of the major players in the life sciences sector here.

Some other growth areas in the life sciences sector include clinical trial and validation professionals, who can translate complex clinical data and knowledge into actionable results. The whole area of regulatory affairs is fundamental to the scientific sector so employers are constantly looking for those who can work to ensure that products are both manufactured and distributed to market in line with legislation, be that either US legislation or EU legislation.
With Ireland a major player in the biotech sector, specialised scientific skills in the nature of genetics, molecular structure and cellular structure are always in demand. Within this sector on the technology front, knowledge of 3D printing is significant in terms of developing bio-compatible components.

Opportunities available

Of course, it’s not just life sciences and biopharma that have the career opportunities, there are also opportunities within physical sciences and space sciences. Those with specialised scientific degrees can find roles in physical science disciplines or academia, while mathematical science specialists can expect to be in demand from very wide spectrum of industries. Software and engineering disciplines also plug into these sectors, particularly those with disciplines including advanced computer sciences, software development or electronic, optoelectronic or mechanical engineering.

Academia is a huge employer in the area of science obviously, and universities are always looking to recruit skillsets that they can add to their knowledge base. The fact that many Irish universities enjoy such strong links with industry players in the biopharma, space tech and life sciences sectors mean that a role with a university can lead to significant academic and professional rewards, with the opportunity to work with industry at an advanced level on projects that are pushing boundaries on scientific achievement and endeavour.


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