Belfast Telegraph

Almac: We want to encourage young people of vision

Pharmaceutical firm Almac on why it's chosen to sponsor a category which champions entrepreneurship in this year's Belfast Telegraph Business Awards in association with British Airways.

Q. How did you pick a category to sponsor?

A. The Young Businessperson of the Year Award is particularly important, as it establishes credibility right from the start and enables the winner to build on their success by creating networks of like-minded people to encourage and motivate them. It is no secret that the Almac Group was founded by one man - the late Sir Allen McClay - in 1968, and it was down to his entrepreneurial character, building a strong team, always looking at innovative approaches to doing things better and following a clear vision that Almac has got to where it is today, proving that anything is possible when you have drive, determination and a vision. It is therefore very fitting that we are sponsoring the Young Businessperson award to recognise the entrepreneurial talent that exists throughout Northern Ireland and encourage not only the winner, but also the nominees to continue pursuing their ambitions and continue building a knowledge-based economy.

Whilst we don't actually have a formally structured graduate programme, we do offer graduate positions within the organisation across a variety of roles.

As a growing organisation which offers careers in more than 50 different fields, Almac recognises the value in providing employment opportunities for graduates and placement students and also the importance of providing solid foundations from which all inductees can grow and develop.

In addition to financial benefits (all placements and graduate positions are paid), Almac believe that ongoing support on both a personal and professional basis is essential to the overall success of each individual experience.

Q. How has the last 12 months been for the company?

A. Almac has had a fantastic and extremely busy year in 2015. We saw new collaborations being announced, new facilities being opened, as well as our workforce exceeding 4,000 employees globally.

Our highlights include our partnership with large biotech firm, Genentech. Back in June 2015, it was announced that Almac had signed a multi-million pound deal with the Californian company. Almac Discovery's novel, potent and selective small molecule inhibitors was the starting point for a two-year joint research programme funded by Genentech.

In July 2015, we announced the successful completion of the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) inspection of our new Asia Pacific headquarters in Singapore. The new facility enables us to expand on the unique suite of clinical trial primary and secondary packaging, distribution, technology and consultation solutions offered from within the region, as well as to even better serve our Asia Pacific pharmaceutical clients.

At the beginning of November, we announced the acquisition of 100% shares of Arran Chemical Company, an independent and privately owned organisation based in Athlone, Ireland. The new combined business will integrate biocatalysis technology with large scale intermediates manufacture.

Also in November 2015, we announced our plans for a £16m investment to expand our formulation and analytical development services to meet ongoing client demand by concluding negotiations to operate a significant proportion of the 70-acre Charnwood Campus in Loughborough, England - a world-class science, technology and enterprise park. With contracts signed at the end of 2015, detailed planning has been completed and facility recommissioning and equipment procurement activities have commenced. Recruitment of local management and operational teams has also begun, in line with being audit-ready by quarter one 2017.

Almac has gone from strength to strength in recent years. We continue to reinvest all our profits into developing our facilities, people and services to maintain our competitive edge in the industry.

Q. How has the acquisition of Arran gone?

A. Arran is now a member of the Almac Group, with the existing Arran Chemical Company growing strongly. In addition we have already started working on new projects for several Almac customers, from the USA, UK and Japan. We are also in advanced discussions with five additional clients from Scandinavia, Germany, the USA, Switzerland and the UK.

There are very good synergies between the two businesses and we are already seeing tangible benefits for both organisations.

Q. What is the company's position in the sector worldwide?

A. The Almac Group is a world leading drug development and commercial services company, providing an expanding array of innovative solutions worldwide across the drug development lifecycle. The group's aim is essentially to support the world's pharmaceutical and biotech companies by providing an extensive range of solutions enabling them to speed up the entire development pipeline, thereby saving money in the process. But Almac is not just about the science - the company employs a vast range of people in various roles which support the company's research and development efforts, including innovative engineers, proactive software developers, eloquent project staff, creative marketing and HR professionals and analytical accountants.

After achieving so much in 2015, at the moment we are focusing on reinvesting our profits to develop our services and our people. We do this with our mission statement in mind, Partnering to Advance Human Health, and it is working across the world to make a real difference to healthcare.

Next week, we hear from Excellence in Exporting sponsor FedEx

Belfast Telegraph