Cork becomes ‘Carbon Valley’ leading the way in biotech innovation

For decades it’s gone by the name of the Rebel County but Cork could be about to adopt another moniker thanks to a group of cutting-edge researchers turning Leeside into a “Carbon Valley” at the forefront of international biotechnology.

With the world’s first biotech accelerator programme for startup companies already established within its boundaries and boasting an unrivalled mix of expertise and affordability, Cork is on the cusp of something big.

As the Irish Examiner was given access to some of the world-leading research undertaken by the IndieBio’s nine teams, programme scientific director Cathal Garvey explained the city’s unique appeal and competitive advantage.

“There’s massive potential in the city. Internally we refer to Cork as ‘Carbon Valley’. We’ve very friendly startups; we’re very friendly to business in general and from a regulatory standpoint and just a daily cost standpoint, Cork is just a fantastic place to be for biotechnology.

“You can rent a lab for less in Ireland than you can rent an apartment in San Francisco,” said Mr Garvey.

Allied to the supportive environment and relatively cheap accommodation is a host of leading experts, particularly in UCC’s Microbiology Department with which IndieBio is associated, that give it the upper hand.

From developing life- prolonging yogurts to non-allergenic peanuts and with an eye on tackling deadly diseases, the SOSVentures-backed accelerator has put Cork on the biotech map. The challenge now is to create the investment and lab space to take advantage of it.

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