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GEN News Highlights : Aug 15, 2014

Almac Adding 348 Jobs at Northern Ireland HQ

Almac Group will proceed with plans to create 348 new jobs at its headquarters in Craigavon, Northern Ireland, over the next five years, after winning £5.5 million (about $9.2 million) in unspecified support from the region’s economic development agency.

Invest Northern Ireland yesterday disclosed the new jobs, part of a £54 million ($90 million) expansion of the headquarters where the provider of contract services to biopharmas bases more than 2,100 of its nearly 3,500 jobs worldwide. The remainder is based elsewhere in the U.K., as well as in the U.S. and Asia.

"I would say that global demand for our services has driven this expansion and we are aiming for additional offerings in small intravenous vials or ampoules for the treatment of cancer," Alan Armstrong, chairman and chief executive of the Almac Group, told the Belfast Telegraph. “We have a strong relationship with Queen's University, which has helped drive our drug discovery and diagnostic expertise and we would put a lot of emphasis on that link.”

Of the new jobs, 181 will be within Almac’s Clinical Services unit, which provides clinical packaging, labelling, logistics and clinical supply chain management services. Almac plans to create new cold chain storage and distribution facilities and enhanced information systems, with the goal of capitalizing on demand from clients for closer partnering opportunities, as outsourcing continues to grow within biopharma.

Another 141 jobs will be created at Almac’s Pharma Services unit, which provides contract development and manufacturing services to biopharma giants. “The company will invest in new technologies and equipment to take advantage of the growing demand for outsourced development services,” Invest Northern Ireland said in a statement.

Another 26 jobs will be created across Almac, the economic development agency said.

"There will be several levels of job available right across the spectrum—from logistics and engineering to management and finance—and we would say there will be a 50/50 split between graduate and non-graduate roles with recruitment due to start soon,” Armstrong added.

Almac’s services to biopharma clients include drug discovery, diagnostics, research and development, manufacture of active pharmaceutical ingredients, formulation development and clinical trials.

The latest expansion comes a little over a year after Almac added 229 jobs in Northern Ireland as part of a £13.7 million ($22.9 million) expansion that resulted in a new development and analytical facility for the company’s Pharmaceutical Development Service, resulting in specialized formulation drug testing, compliance and quality positions. Almac also expanded a key production line used for manufacturing an undisclosed product for export markets, resulting in new skilled operations and manufacturing jobs. At the time, Invest Northern Ireland awarded the company £2.05 million ($3.42 million) in unspecified support.