BIO2017: Countries Prepare Pitches for the EMA Following Brexit

Published: Jun 26, 2017

BIO2017: Countries Prepare Pitches for the EMA Following Brexit June 26, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

SAN DIEGO – While biotech leaders talked about possible partnerships at Bio International, one unanswered question loomed in the back of some minds—where will the European Medicines Agency wind up?

With the British government having triggered Article 50 signaling the two-year plan to leave the European Union, the so-called Brexit, the EMA will also need to use that time to find a new home. The EMA is currently based in London, but with Brexit, the agency will leave England. There are certainly no shortages of countries looking to woo the regulatory agency to set up shop there.

Shay Power, manager of new business at IDA Ireland, said leaders from his country are making a strong pitch to have the EMA move to Dublin. Power touted multiple reasons the agency should strongly consider Ireland, including its robust existing pharmaceutical and biotech industries, with nine of the top 10 pharma companies present in Ireland; strong educational programs in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math); as well as a common language, culture and legal system to England. Ireland has approximately 50,000 people employed in the life science industry.

Another plus in Ireland’s favor, Power said, is the country’s new prime minister, Leo Varadkar, a medical doctor who “has a strong understanding of the EMA.”

Ireland’s close proximity to England with dozens of regular flights throughout the week would make it easy for some employees to regularly commute from London, Power added. That would lead to less disruption for the work the EMA is doing, which Power said is critical to all of Europe.

“Coming to Ireland would be an easy transition (for the EMA) to make,” Power said. “We need to have an EMA fully functioning with an easy transition.”

But other countries are also pitching the regulatory agency to move, including Sweden, Germany and Denmark. In July, representatives from Holland will likely present their case as to why Amsterdam would be a good home for the EMA. Sandra de Wild, a sector specialist for life sciences and health with the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency, said Amsterdam is easily accessible from all global points. While the language and culture are different from London, de Wild said there is a strong talent pool in Holland and throughout Europe who would be appropriate fits for any vacancies that could possibly arise from a move. She touted the open-movement policy in the European Union as a plus for any possible recruitment.

Although Article 50 was triggered in March of this year, Power and de Wild said it would likely be some time before the EMA made a decision as to where it might go. But each company will be ready should it be chosen.

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