Life Sciences: Janssen’s €300m investment cements prominent position in local economy

Members of the Janssen BTE organising committee.

In association with Janssen Supply Chain Ireland

Overseeing the progress of a €300 million expansion at the Ringaskiddy base of pharmaceutical giant Janssen Supply Chain Ireland, together with recruiting some 200 employees to service the new facility, will be keeping general manager, Kyran Johnson busy for some time to come.

“We’re adding a new manufacturing facility to the existing site, which will enable us to use new technology to manufacture some of our latest products, which are due to come on the market over the next five years,” explains Kyran Johnson, adding that the current workforce of about 500 people at the Ringaskiddy site will be increased by another 200 over the coming year.

“We have already started the recruitment of additional staff. In total we expect to employ about 200 additional people, some of whom have already been hired.”

More than 100 are expected to be hired in 2019 and the remainder will join the Janssen workforce at Ringaskiddy in 2020.

The company is hiring across a range of sectors including manufacturing, technical, maintenance and engineering, while laboratory analysts and scientists are also being recruited.

“This is in the context of building up the site capability and supporting products to the global market,” explains Johnson who adds that employees are predominantly being hired from the greater Cork area. 

“We currently have five products that we manufacture for patients.

“We have a number of products coming through development and clinical trials and it’s hoped that they will launch on the market in the next five to ten years. 

"The message is that as a site we are growing and that we’re operating with new technology, both in terms of the laboratory and in manufacturing,” he says, adding, for example, that in the laboratory newer analytical techniques are continually being introduced.

The site and the business are growing. To maintain and meet that growth in this very exciting area, we need additional talent in the science and engineering areas.

The recruitment market is highly competitive, he acknowledges, but Janssen is a popular employer. 

“In terms of talent we are currently at almost full employment in Ireland, which means the market is a very competitive one. 

"In that context we are a very attractive company to work for. We have proven over the years to be a company that employees want to stay with.”

This is partly because Janssen is working at the cutting edge of science and technology, but also because there are opportunities to advance both technical and leadership careers.

Janssen, he observes, has traditionally been “very pro-active” in providing career ladders to allow people to move cross-functionally and build the capability to progress their careers. 

“We have, for example, employees who have availed of the opportunity to move from a sector such as the quality control environment to a manufacturing role in order to build their experience and knowledge of the business and supply chain.”

Another proven attraction for prospective employees, observes Johnson, is the company’s very active engagement with the community in terms of volunteer programmes such as the hugely successful Bridge to Employment scheme, which Janssen launched in Ireland in 2005. 

Staff of Janssen, Little Island with family and friends including (left) Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Fergal Dennehy took part in Darkness Into Light 2018. Pic: Larry Cummins
Staff of Janssen, Little Island with family and friends including (left) Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Fergal Dennehy took part in Darkness Into Light 2018. Pic: Larry Cummins

“Bridge to Employment is a programme where we work with three second-level schools, with students from TY and upwards.

“We provide mentoring with the objective of encouraging the students to stay in school, complete their Leaving Certificate and go on to further education.

“We also involve parents, in order to create awareness that there are good career opportunities out there for their children.

Bridge to Employment was started by our company in the early 1990s and was launched in Ireland in 2005.

“Since then it has helped to bring many students into further education and on to successful careers,” he says, adding that the programme requires extensive collaboration, involving a committee of representatives from the Cork Education and Training Board (CETB), Cork Institute of Technology, University College Cork, Junior Achievement Ireland and Business in the Community.

“We work closely with a committee of representatives of each of these groups which has been extremely successful.”

Developing talent: Laboratory Analyst Apprenticeship scheme

The company has also been proactive in terms of attracting employees from different backgrounds into the pharma sector. 

“Traditionally we may have employed large numbers of third-level graduates, but now we are also expanding our apprenticeship programmes,” says Johnson, pointing to the new Laboratory Analyst Apprenticeship scheme, scheduled to launch in early 2019. 

This programme, which will be run in conjunction with CIT, will target school-leavers who may not choose the college route but who may be attracted by the prospect of working their way up through an apprenticeship programme, ultimately ending up with a degree — while at the same time gaining valuable work experience.

Ray O'Sullivan, Lorraine Gustafsson, Leanne Foley and Hugh Collins from the Janssen team pictured at the Breakthrough Cancer Research annual Corporate Quiz fundraiser at the Clayton Hotel Silversprings. Pic: John Allen
Ray O'Sullivan, Lorraine Gustafsson, Leanne Foley and Hugh Collins from the Janssen team pictured at the Breakthrough Cancer Research annual Corporate Quiz fundraiser at the Clayton Hotel Silversprings. Pic: John Allen

“This is a major programme that we, as an industry, have worked to develop in conjunction with the Skills Forum,” says Johnson, adding that the programme has already been launched in Dublin in conjunction with IT Tallaght.

“At the same time we continue to support other apprenticeship programmes such as those in electrical and instrumental, as well as the mechanical apprenticeship. 

"These are programmes that, despite all of the new technology, are still needed. We still have large processing equipment, and these skills are necessary for the maintenance of that equipment.”

Another programme supported by the company, is the Life Sciences Manufacturing Operations programme, which is funded by SOLAS and run by the Cork Education and Training Board at its facility in Carrigaline.

“This is a popular course with people from all walks of life who want to work in this sector.”

The 48-week course, which incorporates a work placement, has been very successful, says Johnson, because it covers all the fundamentals, which he explains, means that on completion of the programme, graduates are ready for upskilling onsite in the pharma sector.

“Over the years the corporate sector essentially dropped the ball in terms of supporting apprenticeships,” he acknowledges. 

Now we recognise the impact this is having and also the importance of having access to these skills, so we are throwing our support fully behind programmes like these.

While most Irish parents automatically encourage their children to go to college, people can forget that there are other options, he points out:

“In this context we will continue to need equipment and processes in biopharmaceutical, manufacturing and food processing and the skillsets required to run and maintain these operations.

“There has been a view that young people were better off going to college but it should be noted that many courses have a drop-out rate and I believe apprenticeships programmes would offer many young people a very good career. 

"They offer an alternative — and, very importantly, great career prospects! I can point to people in our company who have come in via apprenticeships programme and who have worked up to the higher levels of management.”

Carin Huibers, Jim Breen and Tom O’Donnell from Janssen at the Field of Dreams site in Curraheen.
Carin Huibers, Jim Breen and Tom O’Donnell from Janssen at the Field of Dreams site in Curraheen.

Work placement students

The company welcomes about 45 work placement students every year across its two sites.

As part of their third-level work placements across all disciplines from finance to health and safety to engineering and science, students can spend up to nine months at the company. 

“It gives students a good understanding of what real life work is like because they get to work on real-life projects.

“This means they know what is involved and this is a very good experience for the vast majority of students,” says Johnson adding the company also runs a Graduate Programme which facilitates graduates of degree courses, in specialities such as science or finance. 

“This is a two -year programme which provides additional development and training.”

Expansion is on schedule for 2019 opening

The expansion of the Janssen Sciences UC site in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, is at an advanced stage and on track to be completed in September 2019. 

The €300m project involves the construction of a new manufacturing building and the expansion of the existing warehouse building, laboratory and administration building.

The new 19,000sq m facility links to the existing building and has involved an average of 500 people in the construction phase alone. 

In late 2017, Janssen Sciences announced plans for a €300 million expansion of its Ringaskiddy facility.
In late 2017, Janssen Sciences announced plans for a €300 million expansion of its Ringaskiddy facility.

The new manufacturing building is 22m high, with the new warehouse standing 18m tall. 

The expansion will add to Janssen’s global manufacturing capacity and, once completed, over 200 people will be employed at the new site, giving Janssen Sciences UC the ability to continue to provide the highest quality products to patients.

Janssen Sciences UC has operated a biopharmaceutical supply chain facility on its 40-hectare site in Ringaskiddy since 2005. 

The company’s existing product portfolio includes treatments for psoriasis, rheumatoid and psoriatic arthritis, multiple myeloma and Castleman’s disease. 

Globally, Janssen also manufactures treatments for migraine, nausea fungal infection, schizophrenia and HIV.

Janssen Sciences UC has worked closely with the community in the Shanbally and Ringaskiddy areas to ensure minimal disruption during the construction phase of this project.

A full traffic-management plan includes, for example, community liaison initiatives and construction staff vehicle occupancy incentives. 

It also includes no construction traffic on the N28 road at peak times and a specialist road-washing vehicle deployed to maintain public roads.

The company is fully compliant with Environmental Health and Safety Standards and every effort has been taken to ensure the highest standards are kept across all elements of the project.

Janssen Sciences is passionately committed to putting the needs and wellbeing of the people it serves first. 

It is this passion and commitment that fuels the investment of time, resources and money into innovations and groundbreaking discoveries in the pharmaceutical and medtech sectors. 

It is this passion that has given it a reputation for inspiring its employees to reach their full potential by encouraging them to challenge the norm and find the next generation of healthcare solutions.

The expansion of the site in Ringaskiddy will ensure that Janssen Sciences UC continues to innovate in finding the best healthcare solutions for all its patients worldwide.

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