MAYOR of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Alderman John Smyth, visited the Randox Science Park in Antrim following the opening of their new £30million COVID-19 specialised laboratory.
The facility, the development of which was fast-tracked over the space of four weeks, is the first step in a wider diagnostics investment programme from Randox.
The global diagnostics company has also recently announced 200 new job roles across science, engineering and manufacturing in support of its role within the National Testing Programme.
The new positions will be involved in the testing of potential COVID-19 samples, as well as the construction of 200 new state-of-the-art diagnostic analysers significantly increasing Randox’s capacity for COVID-19 testing.
Alderman Smyth said: “Randox is at the forefront of the global effort against COVID-19, and we are proud to see such world-leading expertise headquartered at the heart of Borough. The £30 million investment is a significant boost during a challenging time and the 200 new jobs for our Borough and the surrounding areas is timely given the economic trade winds ahead.”
Dr Peter FitzGerald, Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, said: “It’s an incredibly busy time for our engineers who are working at maximum efficiency to build these state-of-the-art COVID-19 analysers in a greatly accelerated time frame.
“The Randox Discovery, which has been developed entirely in-house, from design concept right through to project completion, will be a real game-changer in the COVID-19 testing landscape and will greatly enhance our capacity for testing for COVID-19.”
Randox Founder and Managing Director Dr Peter Fitzgerald was made a Freeman of the Borough of Antrim in June 2009.
During his tour the Mayor had the opportunity to see Randox’s new Discovery Analyser.
Details on the Discovery: A specialist machine used to further enhance the government’s national testing programme as well as to facilitate testing more broadly across the general populace.
A brand-new development, combining almost 40 years in diagnostics experience into a state-of-the-art testing platform.
Capable of running 48 patient samples simultaneously and generating COVID-19 results every hour.
What makes the Discovery special is its ability to conduct the full testing process in one highly intelligent, fully integrated space.
Sample preparation, which was once a lengthy and time-consuming process for molecular scientists, is now conducted onboard and by the fully-automated Discovery platform.
The machine is a molecular testing platform specializing in the detection of infection, including COVID-19, but also other respiratory conditions and a range of sexually transmitted infections.
However, there was also bad news on the jobs front.
Alderman Smyth has expressed his concern following the announcement by technology company Sensata that they are consulting with staff with a view to reducing the number of employees in Antrim by 160.
Alderman Smyth said: “Sensata Technologies is a significant and high quality employer in Antrim, so this announcement is a worrying development. Our thoughts are with those employees potentially affected and the uncertainty caused by this news will no doubt impact on them and their families.
“COVID-19 has been a tremendous challenge for many organisations and I note Sensata’s anticipation of a downturn in vehicle manufacturing as a result. I have seen first-hand the expertise and technology developed and built by Sensata in our Borough, and I hope they can consolidate and return to growth when wider global economic conditions improve.”