Nestlé has opened its first research and development (R&D) centre in Ireland with an investment of €27m at its current manufacturing facility in Limerick.

The R&D centre was constructed in three years and will focus on scientific research to support innovations in developing milk-based maternal and infant nutrition products for the global market.

The centre employs over 40 research staff. It is co-located within Nestlé’s Wyeth Nutrition manufacturing plant.

Wyeth Nutrition Ireland manufactures a range of premium milk powder products for infants, young children and mothers for export to world markets.

Nestlé global product and technology development head Thomas Hauser said: “Our Irish R&D Centre will benefit from Nestlé’s global R&D network and help to position Nestlé at the forefront of infant and maternal nutritional product development, one of Nestlé’s most important growth drivers.

“We will increase the pace of our innovation capacity by enabling our scientists to explore innovative nutritional solutions for the crucial first 1,000 days of life.”

“With this new centre, we will increase the pace of our innovation capacity by enabling our scientists to explore innovative nutritional solutions for the crucial first 1,000 days of life.”

The R&D centre has laboratory facilities and a full pilot-scale manufacturing line to facilitate the development and testing of products from initial concept to product deployment.

Enterprise Ireland had supported the project investment.

Ireland Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed said: “This is a strategically important investment for Ireland by the world’s largest food and beverage company.

“We are honoured to have a world-leading research facility that provides a cutting-edge scientific base to develop new products that will bring health benefits to infants, children and mothers worldwide.

“Nestlé’s decision to invest and open this centre further places Ireland internationally as a location that offers quality raw dairy materials combined with a highly educated and skilled workforce. It is a major signal of confidence in the future and quality of the Irish dairy industry.”

R&D Centre head Dan O’Callaghan said that the centre will complement the firm’s in-house activities through collaborative research programmes with Irish universities and the Agriculture and Food Development Authority.

In December 2018, Nestlé Health Science opened its Product Technology Center in Bridgewater, New Jersey, US, which was built with an investment of $70m.