GE Healthcare made what it called a “minority investment” in Zenith Technologies, which was founded in Cork in 1998.
The US giant already had an existing partnership with the Ringaskiddy-based firm, which has doubled its global workforce to 700 in the past two years, before making the investment.
It is believed that Zenith’s automation management and process integration systems will be used in GE Healthcare’s much-publicised global strategy of building flexi-factories, which are production facilities suited to a number of different industries with short time-frame turnarounds in mind.
Automation plays a central role in GE Healthcare’s manufacturing, control, and documentation including batch-to-batch consistency and continuous monitoring systems. GE Healthcare has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in flexi-factories, as well as a $200m (€188m) investment in Pune, India.
The hi-tech medical diagnostic equipment company, which has invested more than €40m at its facility in Carrigtwohill, Co Cork, since 2012, announced last September that it would build a new manufacturing campus in Ringaskiddy at a cost of €150m.
Construction on GE BioPark Cork is set to begin this year if given the green light. The project is currently before the State’s planning authority, An Bord Pleanála. A decision on whether GE will be allowed to proceed with the park will be made in July.
GE Healthcare’s investment in Zenith means the company can grow even further, said executive chairman and founder of Zenith, Brendan O’Regan.
“Zenith are engaged with the top 10 life science companies and we are looking forward to continuing to work with GE Healthcare,” he said. “This investment by GE will further enhance our recent partnership and collaboration, and will enable an acceleration of growth for Zenith.”
Jan Makela, the general manager of Bioprocess at GE Healthcare Life Sciences, said Zenith was a good fit as it pursued further automation.
Zenith has around 300 employees in Cork with 700 overall. GE Healthcare was the source of controversy in Cork last August when it emerged that dozens of would-be new workers had their job offers rescinded by the company in a last-minute withdrawal, citing industrial relations issues. GE expressed “deep regret” to those offered jobs, many of whom had already quit their existing jobs to take up the roles.