Charles River Laboratories International Inc. today announced plans for an €8m expansion of its testing capabilities at its Ballina, Co. Mayo site that will give an additional 1,500m2 of lab space and create up to 90 new skilled roles over the next three years.
The contract research organisation and AstraZeneca have maintained a strategic partnership since 2012, providing AstraZeneca with outsourced regulated safety and development support on a range of treatments and vaccines, including testing and facilitating the deployment of the vaccines Vaxzevria for COVID-19 and Fluenz for seasonal infleunza.
This announcement follows earlier expansions at the Ballina site where additional Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) facilities and capabilities have been added in analytical, cell culture, vaccine support and other specialised Biologics services. The Company most recently announced plans to establish a dedicated laboratory space with Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3) containment to handle testing of SARS-CoV-2 (the viral strain causing COVID-19) and other similar pathogens that cause human disease.
Welcoming the news on Friday, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Leo Varadkar said, "It was great to join the team today, to see the facility for myself and congratulate them on this really significant expansion, which will see an €8m investment, creating 90 new jobs for Mayo. Ireland is globally recognised as a hub for the Life Sciences sector and this news is a real vote of confidence in us and our capacity."
Site director for Charles River Ballina, Liam McHale added, "We are incredibly proud of the transformational changes we have implemented on site and the role that Charles River has played in supporting the safe and timely rollout of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. Throughout the pandemic, our site remained fully operational while keeping our employees safe and having a positive impact on human health. Our expanded facility will provide us with the increased capacity needed to continue the essential services we provide to our clients."