Cork's Carbon Valley leading biotech innovation

Cork has all the attributes to position itself as the world’s premier location for biotech startups, with the IndieBio accelerator programme having set the foundation for success.

Much like the Silicon Valley tech hub in San Francisco, Cork’s ability to offer world-leading expertise at a cost premium could have a transformational effect.

As home to the world’s first biotech accelerator in 2014, which this year expanded to accommodate nine companies, Cork is already at the forefront of innovation in the sector, according to IndieBio scientific director Cathal Garvey.

“Since we started, Y Combinator — a major accelerator in San Francisco — has also started accepting biotech companies but what we specialise in and what we’re still the only accelerator doing is taking people with anything as early as an idea that we help accelerate in three months,” he said.

“Y Combinator is dipping their toes in biotech but only with pre-existing, pre-established, and pre-invested biotech companies. Nobody else does what we do. Internally we refer to Cork as ‘Carbon Valley’.

“What we want is to show that Ireland is the best place in Europe to do biotech and definitely one of the best places in the world to come and start a young biotech [company].”

A business-friendly environment coupled with a good standard of living, cheap accommodation, and favourable regulations, mean Ireland — and Cork in particular — is in an enviable position.

IndieBio is run in conjunction with the UCC Microbiology Department and is backed by SOSventures, which has invested €800,000.

This year it saw nine firms from across the globe developing their ideas before the culmination of the three-month schedule on Wednesday night’s demo day in Cork City Gaol.

Designing foods to improve health and help us live longer, creating eco-friendly colours for use in manufacturing and developing revolutionary methods of discovering new medicines are just some of the issues the teams tackled.


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