Expanding R&D to Meet Challenges in Biopharmaceutical Processes

February 14, 2023PAO-02-23-PATV-02

On the Road to Ireland road trip campaign, Liam Hore and Leanne Davey of Waters Corporation speak to Nigel Walker about their site at Wexford and its expansion in research and development. Watch the full video or read the transcript below to learn about Waters' unique ability to adapt to challenges in today's biopharmaceutical processes.

Nigel Walker (NW): Waters is a worldwide corporation. But looking back, how has Waters contributed to the future of healthcare?

Leanne Davey (LD): Waters has been a technology innovator for over 60 years in the areas of pharmaceuticals, life sciences, materials, and food. We've developed key analytical technologies in the areas of chromatography, mass spectrometry, thermal analysis, and software. We've used those to collaborate with customers to really help solve problems that have mattered over that time.

NW: There are many Waters sites around the world. Can you tell us a little bit about what goes on here at the site in Ireland?

Liam Hore (LH): This year at Waters Wexford is a very important year for us. We celebrate 25 years of our history here. We started very small back in 1997. We had about 10 people, primarily supporting sample prep, sample management, and other solid phase extraction. We did a good job there and we had the opportunity to grow into columns, so now we do HPLC, UPLC columns, and most recently the Premier brands, which I know Erin would have spoken to about when you were in Milford. We grew the business, then, into mass spectrometry, so we actually support quadruple technology here. More recently, we've evolved into reagent kits in support of Leanne's new business in the clinical space. 

NW: Having a global brand like Waters makes it easy to recruit, but can you tell me a little bit about how the success happens here at the Wexford facility?

LH: For us here, it's the combination between technology and people. And if I look at our people, the aptitude and attitude that we have with the team here has been critical to our success. It's really a can-do, positive attitude, and they embrace change. Our team have been really core to our success.

NW: The process of automation is to reduce human error. Looking around, you have a beautiful lab, and I can see an automated pipetting piece of hardware that I know has come out to market relatively recently. Can you tell me a little bit about the expansion that you have here at the Wexford facility?

LD: One of the key areas that we're focusing on in expansion in Wexford is in R&D right now, and specifically for the clinical diagnostics area. For clinical diagnostics, ease of use is critical for our customers, and so one of the key areas that we're focusing on prior to that is automation. So we have developed products like you've seen in the background there, but we're also focused on developing complete solutions and workflows to support those clinical diagnostic customers.

LH: We have a strong belief in solving problems that matter, so our supply chain team have been working very diligently to be able to source materials so that we can keep our customers’ favorite product. As part of that, one of the advantages Waters has, for example, in our consumers business, is that we own the supply chain and that the chemistries come from our sister plant in Taunton, our hardware comes from our sister plant in Milford, and then we bring it all together here at Waters Wexford.

In the supply chain on some of the products that you see here in the mass spec area, the team have been very proactive in partnering with our supply chain. So, in advance of anything we've always had strong relationships with our suppliers, and we work hand-in-hand with them to ensure that we can continue to supply, and have done a really positive job in that regard.

Internally in the plants, the team have worked all the hours that we needed them to work, and we get an extreme amount of discretionary effort from the team. And the difference between success and failure is that discretionary effort.

NW: What are the lessons learned that you've seen over the last 25 years?

LD: From an innovation perspective, Nigel, one of the things that has been really critical over the past 25 years here is the transfer of technology into the plant here. It's allowed us to grow and expand over that time, as well as develop new core competencies within the local environment here. And that's something that we will continue to do into the future as we have further expansion now into the clinical business, and we'll continue to develop those skills that we’ll need for the future.

LH: For me, I could sum it up in one word, and that's “agility.” Previously we put a lot of effort into planning, but the ability to adapt and pivot has been key to our success and will be key to our success as we move forward, particularly as we operate in this new volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environment.

chat button