Brexit could boost Irish life sciences sector, says Malin

Dublin-based firm moving into new phase of investing in building companies from scratch

Malin chief executive Kelly Martin: “From an industry point of view there’s many more positives than negatives from Brexit, but there are also challenges.”

Malin chief executive Kelly Martin: “From an industry point of view there’s many more positives than negatives from Brexit, but there are also challenges.”

 

Ireland’s life sciences sector stands to benefit from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, according to the chief executive of Malin, the Dublin-based company set up by former Elan executives.

Kelly Martin, who leads the life sciences firm ,which raised €330 million from international investors in its debut on the Irish Stock Exchange early last year, also said Malin intended to move into a new phase of investment that will see it helping to build companies from scratch, rather than just investing in firms that are already active.

Mr Martin was speaking as Malin said it had drawn down €40 million of the €70 million, seven-year debt facility it received from the European Investment Bank (EIB) in June. He said the EIB investment was being used to support cutting-edge innovation and development of new products by private life science companies in Ireland and the UK.

Companies currently supported by Malin include 3D4Medical, Altan, Immunocore and Poseida.

Investment opportunities

“There are certainly many more life sciences opportunities. We have to stay somewhat disciplined and we can’t do everything, so we have to make sure our appetite isn’t bigger than our digestive systems, but I think we’ll stay reasonably active,” Mr Martin told The Irish Times.

“In particular, we’re interested in building companies from scratch, that’s the next phase for us,” he added.

Mr Martin said that both Malin and the wider life sciences sector could gain from Britain’s decision to leave the EU.

“From an industry point of view there’s many more positives than negatives from Brexit, but there are also challenges of course,” said Mr Martin.

“Ireland has a great reputation in terms of life sciences, the Government here is very pro-business and there are excellent resources in the universities, all of which make the country very attractive,” he added.

Mr Martin said Malin itself also saw plenty of potential benefits arising from Brexit.

Significant opportunity

“Brexit offers us a significant opportunity. We have some fantastic relationships in the UK along with great shareholders there. The life sciences industry in the UK is big and there will need to be a way found to balance both the UK business and the EU connection and I think we can play a good role there,” he said.

The EIB loan to Malin marks the first private sector lending in Ireland under the €315 billion investment plan for Europe announced last year .

The European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) was set up last year to boost funding for riskier companies and projects, in particular for infrastructure, education and research, that are most affected by low levels of investment in the EU.

The EIB estimates that projects and agreements approved for financing under the the plan to date are expected to mobilise €138.3 billion in total investments across 27 member states and to support almost 290,000 SMEs.

The Government, EIB and the European Commission have all urged other research-focused Irish companies to consider seeking funding via the plan.

“Across Ireland, opportunities to use world-class skills and cutting-edge ideas are being lost due to delayed investment. The EIB is committed to supporting innovation across Europe, including increasing private sector investment in Ireland, under the investment plan for Europe,” said EIB vice-president Andrew McDowell.