The Irish government has announced the creation of a two million euro research programme for the biotechnology industry. This BioIndustry-Led Research Programme aims to address biotechnology research and development (R&D) priorities identified by companies in Ireland, and conduct research projects in these areas over the next two to three years. The programme was drawn-up by Enterprise Ireland, the Irish government's state agency for development, in collaboration with the Irish BioIndustry Association, leading academics, scientists and business managers from biotech companies. The Irish government also received external consultancy support from the Finnish national technology agency (Tekes). Announcing the programme, the Irish Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin said that new programme will help increase awareness of industry R&D needs in institutes of higher education, and stimulate greater interaction between biotech companies, bringing added value to the sector. 'Biotechnology is an area of global opportunity where Ireland has a strong research base. This programme is an example of industry, academia and government working together to facilitate innovation. This targeted approach will contribute to the competitiveness of Irish biotech companies in global markets,' said Mr Martin. Industry consultation identified biodiagnostics and bioprocess monitoring as priority areas for research. The programme foresees R&D projects in these key areas to be carried out on behalf of the companies by a team of leading academics from Irish universities with expertise in sensors, microfluidics, microelectronics, biodiagnostics and process engineering. Throughout the programme, consultation with industry will continue through workshops and company visits. An outreach programme aimed at addressing the skills and training needs pinpointed through industry consultation is already underway. Workshops in project planning and regulatory issues are scheduled for 2006-2007. Speaking at the launch, Feargal Ó'Móráin, Executive Director of Enterprise Ireland said that the programme was part of an overall target to substantially increase the number of companies performing R&D in Ireland. 'We are confident that this programme's strategic and innovative R&D approach, will deliver technological advancements and enhanced efficiencies for biotech companies in Ireland,' he said.