NIBRT and ATU Mark 15 Years of Innovation and Growth in Biopharma Education Collaboration

Dublin, Ireland (10 April 2024): The National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) is delighted to commemorate the 15-year anniversary of its partnership with Atlantic Technology University (ATU). What began as a collaboration on a single course has flourished into a dynamic relationship encompassing over 20 higher-level courses, reflecting the growth and success of the partnership.

Over the years, the partnership has evolved to offer students a unique blend of theoretical expertise from ATU and hands-on practical experience at NIBRT’s cutting-edge GxP simulated facility. This state-of-the-art environment ensures that students receive a best-in-class educational experience, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application in the biopharma sector.

NIBRT and ATU offer students the opportunity to study part-time from NFQ Level 6 Higher Certificate up to full Level 9 Masters degree level and currently over half of the learners on these programmes are employed in industry. NIBRT and ATU have seen over 5,000+ students graduate from their diverse suite of higher-level biopharma programmes, highlighting the enduring impact and influence of the collaboration on shaping the next generation of biopharma professionals.

This collaboration has been particularly timely given the huge growth in Ireland’s biopharma industry. Ireland is now the third largest exporter of pharmaceuticals in the world and over 85,000 people are employed in the industry directly and indirectly. The pharmaceutical industry contributes over €116+ billion annually to Ireland’s export revenue.

As a response to this thriving industry, the NIBRT-ATU course offerings have been strategically designed to meet evolving industry demands. The suite of courses help enable development and upskilling or reskilling of a crucial pipeline of professionals to fulfil the growing needs of the biopharma sector.

“The partnership’s growth is a testament to our commitment to delivering excellence in biopharma education. We take pride in providing students with a comprehensive learning experience that combines academic knowledge with real-world application,” said Darrin Morrissey, CEO at NIBRT.

This dedication to innovation and excellence recently earned NIBRT and ATU a highly regarded spot as finalists in the education category at the prestigious Irish Pharma Awards. Additionally, we are delighted to announce that we have also been shortlisted for the education awards in the Best Graduate Training Programme category. This recognition underscores the strong foundations of the partnership and its significant contribution to advancing biopharma education in Ireland.

The 15-year milestone was celebrated with a special event hosted at NIBRT. The event served as a reflection on the achievements of the past 15 years and a launchpad for the continued success of the NIBRT-ATU partnership.

“We are delighted to mark a 15-year anniversary since IT Sligo launched its first collaborative programme offering with NIBRT. Since conception, this partnership has grown and flourished with direct and meaningful impact on Irish biopharma industry. We look forward to continuing development and enrichment of our programme offerings in the years ahead.” commented Professor Neville McClenaghan, Head of Department of Life Sciences at ATU Sligo Campus.

As a testament to the transformative nature of the NIBRT-ATU course provision, Fintan Heffernan a recent graduate transitioned from working in the food industry to a career in biopharma after studying a L9 Cert in CQV with ATU Sligo in partnership with NIBRT.

He recently commented on his academic journey: ‘’My experience with ATU and NIBRT could be described only as stellar. My lecturers were approachable, knowledgeable, and understanding, the course runners were communicative and active in assisting me and others if necessary and the standard of education provided was second to none’’.

Colm Manley, a member of the alumni who completed Level 6 through to Level 9 programmes with NIBRT-ATU commented: “At the time, IT Sligo was the only college offering fully online courses in the area I wanted to specialise in, so I began with the Level 6 Higher Certificate in Science in Good Manufacturing Practice. Thirteen years on, I have now progressed through to, and completed my, Masters degree in Biopharmaceutical Science with NIBRT-ATU. The flexibility of online learning was a big driving factor for my success and the practical aspect in NIBRT really appealed to me as I work full-time, empowering me with new knowledge and skills I can bring with me throughout my career in the biopharmaceutical industry”. 

The NIBRT-ATU partnership stands as a shining example of the positive impact that collaboration can have on education and workforce development in the biopharma sector. As both institutions look ahead, the future promises continued growth, innovation, and shared success.


The National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT) is a global centre of excellence for training and research in biopharmaceutical manufacturing. NIBRT is located in a world class facility in Dublin, Ireland. This facility is purpose built to closely replicate a modern bioprocessing plant with state-of-the-art equipment and enables NIBRT to offer the highest quality training and research solutions. NIBRT’s mission is to support the growth and development of all aspects of the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry. For more information visit

About ATU

The Atlantic Technological University (ATU) was established in 2022 following the merger of three institutes of technology – Galway-Mayo (GMIT), Letterkenny (LYIT) and IT Sligo. The University’s official Designation Day was April 1, 2022. Since then, St Angela’s College joined ATU in November 2023 becoming the universities 9th campus.

With more than 24,000 registered students, the vast majority of whom are in full-time undergraduate study, ATU is making good on its mission to become a leader in Higher Education in Ireland through its continuously developing academic offering and collaborative partnerships in the private sector.

The ATU is one of Ireland’s largest universities with eight campuses across the West and North-West, meaning students can enjoy the benefits of a large-scale technological university, such as access to emerging technologies and research-driven teaching, with the excellent quality of life provided by the natural amenities along the Wild Atlantic Way.

The university and its more than 2,200 staff offers 600-plus full and part-time programmes from pre-degree to doctoral level, either on campus or via remote learning. The ATU is dedicated to preparing its students for the future of work, with the largest proportion of our graduates coming from courses in Science, Mathematics and Computing, Engineering, Manufacturing and Construction.



Media Contacts

For more information please contact:

Emer Norton

Marketing and Communications Manager

National Institute of Bioprocessing Research and Training


NIBRT Picture Conor McCabe Photography.