Lilly Kinsale is home to a unique 50-hectare manufacturing campus where the worldwide supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients for many of Lilly’s innovative medicines is made. The campus is situated about twenty miles west of Cork city in a countryside location between Kinsale and Innishannon.
It’s not just the location that sets the Kinsale site apart, it’s the work that we do here and the team that does it are what really make Lilly Kinsale a special place.
Uniquely in the biopharmaceutical industry in Ireland, the Lilly campus accommodates chemical synthesis, biotechnology and continuous manufacturing technologies - all inside one site boundary.
Within the site, a highly talented team of over 900 employees is dedicated to the Lilly purpose of making life better for people around the world, through their commitment to making medicines with safety first and quality always. A contract workforce of about 500 people partner with the Lilly team to deliver on the site mission.
The Story of Lilly Kinsale
The farmhouse situated on the site of Lilly Kinsale in 1978
The first production of active pharmaceutical ingredients at Kinsale commenced in March 1981, after a three-year investment programme. The start-up of the site was led by a small group of employees, many of whom went on to have long and successful careers at the site and in other parts of the company. This strength and depth of expertise in making medicines has been a key factor in enabling the site to grow and diversify in new scientific and engineering technologies in the decades since its establishment.
From the early days of the site, our focus has been manufacturing and supplying a wide range of active pharmaceutical ingredients for the company's marketed medicines. In 2006, the mission of the site expanded to allow us to participate earlier in the life-cycle of innovative new medicines, working in close partnership with our Lilly colleagues in development, to scale-up and prepare for the launch of new medicines.
Lilly Kinsale Campus, with Kinsale Harbour in the background
For four decades, Lilly Kinsale has been built on a team-based working environment where everyone takes pride in our contributions to the site and the company, but most of all, the positive impact we have on the lives of people around the world who depend on Lilly medicines every day.
Today, Kinsale plays a key role in the global Lilly supply chain, providing manufacturing capacity and technical expertise in three areas of medicine manufacturing technology.
Making a reliable supply of small molecule products was at the heart of our original manufacturing mission in Kinsale when chemical synthesis technology was used to produce our first batches of active pharmaceutical ingredients in the early 1980’s. Continuously improving our capabilities in small molecule manufacturing technology and ensuring the highest standards of operational excellence is always a top priority for the site. With this continuous improvement mindset, the site has developed and diversified into new areas of technology in each decade of its existence.
Since 2010, Kinsale has become a manufacturing centre of excellence for manufacturing scale-up of small molecule medicines in preparation for market launch. In partnership with our U.S.-based Small Molecule Design and Development colleagues, the Kinsale site is now involved in late-phase product development and process optimisation. These activities include product technology transfers and active ingredient manufacturing in support of clinical trials, as well as implementation of new technologies such as advanced analytics and process analytical technology (PAT).
Today, the Kinsale small molecule site provides the global supply of active pharmaceutical ingredients for medicines in therapeutic areas such as oncology, immunology and neuroscience.
In 2006, Lilly announced that Kinsale would become the location for the manufacture of active ingredients for its new large molecule biopharmaceutical medicines, called monoclonal antibodies (mAbs).
To support this mission, a significant investment in new biotechnology facilities was made and with the completion of these facilities in a previously greenfield area of the site, Lilly Kinsale entered a new era as a dual manufacturing technology campus. The site also expanded its analytical capabilities, with the development of new bio-analytical facilities to support the expansion into biotechnology manufacturing. Existing employees developed new skillsets in all aspects of biotechnology manufacturing and new employees were hired to bring additional skills that were needed to build our new site.
Biotechnology manufacturing commenced in 2011 when the first batches of biological active ingredients were produced in the newly approved facility. Since 2011, the company added two further biotechnology expansions at Kinsale in 2011 and 2017. The team in Kinsale works close in partnership with Bioprocess Research and Development colleagues in the U.S. to scale-up the manufacturing of newly discovered medicines. This partnership between manufacturing and development colleagues also delivers productivity and process improvement projects.
Pilot-Scale Biotechnology Plant/Laboratory
In 2017, the company identified the need for a pilot-scale biotechnology manufacturing facility to spearhead the drive for manufacturing innovation and productivity within the global Lilly biotechnology manufacturing network. By early 2019, Lilly Kinsale commissioned a new non-GMP pilot scale biotechnology facility.
In addition to the full suite of cell culture and purification capabilities, the facility also includes continuous processing technology which makes it a world-class centre for biotechnology manufacturing innovation.
The most recent manufacturing development at Kinsale has been the addition of cutting-edge continuous manufacturing technology to the suite of capabilities at the campus.
Announced in 2016, the investment in this technology, called “Small Volume Continuous” (SVC), has enabled the global Lilly team to achieve a leading position in the pharmaceutical industry with the completion of a proof-of-concept manufacturing campaign in the new facility in 2018. This facility in Kinsale opens a world of new manufacturing possibilities in terms of the ability to run innovative new chemical reactions, as well as increased flexibility, efficiency, safety and environmental sustainability of our operations.
The team involved in the project delivery was recognised with publication of a scientific paper which documented their work and achievements in the journal “Science”. In 2019, the facility was announced as the “Process Innovation” category winner in the prestigious “Facility of the Year” competition run by the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineers. The partnership between Lilly colleagues in manufacturing and development delivers world-leading facilities for the production of new medicines.
Also in 2019, the journey of continuous manufacturing at Lilly took another step forward with a decision to construct a larger scale continuous manufacturing facility at Kinsale. This facility is designed to again break engineering, scientific and information technology boundaries in terms of how it will operate when completed. Construction is ongoing and the first production of active pharmaceutical ingredient is scheduled for 2022. This product is a new type of molecule called a “synthetic peptide” and its manufacture at Kinsale will be another industry first in Ireland.