Eirgen Pharma are leaders in high potency pharmaceuticals and contract pharmaceutical development & manufacturing.
“I was fourteen years in my previous job. I’d done very well and was on the Senior Management team but to get to the next level there, it was never going to be in Waterford. An opportunity presented itself at headquarters in the USA but would have involved uprooting the whole family. I was toying with the idea but spoke again to my colleague, Tom Brennan, about our own proposal and we decided instead to take a leap of faith.” - Patsy Carney, EirGen Pharma
The Leap of Faith
That leap of faith is one which entrepreneurs everywhere are familiar with and for Limerick man, PATSY CARNEY and his friend and work colleague, Tom Brennan, it came in Christmas, 2004. A career in the pharmaceutical industry which started in the R&D Department of the UK giant, Beechams had, by 1990, seen Patsy return to Ireland to take up a position as Production Manager with Waterford Pharmaceuticals, an indigenous company soon to be embraced by the Norton conglomerate and later by another pharmaceutical big hitter, IVAX (now TEVA).
In October, 2004, an MBA programme which Patsy attended with Tom Brennan, turned out to be the catalyst for a decision which was to transform the lives of both men.
“There was an entrepreneurship module which required the writing of a business plan. Tom and I collaborated on the plan, which, as things turned out, became the blueprint for EirGen. Essentially, the idea was to develop and manufacture a range of oncology related products for which we would seek partner companies around the globe who would handle sales and distribution. We had our Eureka moment one morning at a lecture when we said to ourselves, you know what, there might be something in this. That was October and by Christmas, I had made a decision to go for it and resign from IVAX.”
The Eirgen Story
EirGen was incorporated in March 2005 and six years later is a compact but thriving operation with upwards of fifty customers and licenses for products in markets on all five continents. But if an ability to identify a niche market and a willingness to take risks were key elements of the company’s start-up stage, Patsy Carney believes that choosing Waterford as the location for their business was another.
“The location of EirGen in Waterford was driven by the personal circumstances of Tom and me – we both lived and worked here and had no wish to uproot our families. But knowing we were setting up in an area where there was already a powerful cluster of prestigious pharmaceuticals was a huge influence. We had IVAX and Genzyme here in the city, GSK just up the road in Dungarvan and Merck Sharpe and Dohme less than half an hour away in Clonmel. So there’s a cluster of state of the art pharmaceutical companies but there’s a more important cluster around them and that’s the service industries we all need to allow us to focus on our core business.”
Waterford as an Ally
And in building that core business, Patsy believes the city and its environs have been a vital ally.
“The social interaction element of our business is very relationship based. We’re a global business and our prospective customers are American, European, Japanese and South American. We’re signing up to these companies for anywhere up to a decade so when they come over here, I want them to go away with a very positive view of their time with us. Naturally, it’s what happens here at the plant that counts but you want them to enjoy the wider experience and Waterford delivers on that score. Whether it’s a pint or a bite to eat, some traditional Irish music, a visit to Waterford Crystal or just a walk by the river, I want every hour our clients spend with us to be one they’ll remember for all the right reasons. And in Waterford, you don’t have to worry about that.”
“I had a visitor here from Poland who lived four hundred miles from the sea. And other than flying over it, he’d never spent time there. So we took him out to Dunmore and he stood at the end of the pier for half an hour, just staring out to sea. And he was as happy as Larry. Now, ask me will he remember EirGen or remember me? I don’t know. But he’ll remember his time in Waterford. And that’s good.”” - Patsy Carney, EirGen Pharma