Shionogi, one of Japan's biggest pharmaceutical companies, has signed a memorandum of understanding for an R&D partnership with six Irish universities.

For now, the collaboration, part of the company's Shionogi Science Programme, includes NUI Galway, NUI Maynooth, UCD, University of Limerick, the Royal College of Surgeons and Trinity College Dublin, but Shionogi plans to slowly add to its network of partners in Ireland in order to advance "globalization of industry-university collaboration."

"The opportunity to form co-operative research relationships and engage in joint research with Irish research intuitions will help enhance our research and development capabilities and enable personnel exchanges that are ideal for the development of international human resources," Shionogi president Isao Teshirogi told late last week about the partnerships.

As part of the collaboration between Ireland and Shionogi, the drug company will support exchanges of personnel with the Irish universities' research groups and will "match the seeds of research organizations in Irish universities with its drug-discovery technology and carry out joint research on projects that match," according to

IDA Ireland chief executive Barry O'Leary said the partnership between the country's universities and such an important pharma company in Japan will boost Ireland's reputation in the sector.

"Ireland has a globally significant life-science sector and is home to nine of the top 10 world’s leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies," O’Leary said to"The signing of this memorandum of understanding will strengthen Ireland’s business ties and open doors to attract further Japanese investment.”

- With files from