Conor O’Riordan



Engaging the Workforce in Sustainability.


In Alkermes we have a forum called the Innovation Hub where we promote innovative thinking and ask for ideas from the entire workforce. In each functional area we have Innovation Ambassadors who promote engagement with the Hub. We also have a room – “The Hub”- dedicated to innovation – an area where people have the space to develop innovative ideas and can work collaboratively on ideas which are then posted on the wall.. This has proven to be a great way to engage every single employee around a single innovation topic. Last year we chose Sustainability as one of our topics for the Innovation Hub. The drive for ideas was launched in June 2018 at an all hands meetings. We linked the ask back to the UN’s sustainability goals for 2030 and showed some of the progress completed to date finally asking the question “What can Alkermes and you do to reduce our Carbon Footprint?”

Fig.1 Posters from the All Hands Meeting June 2018.

The drive for ideas ran from June to September and over 80 ideas were received. The ideas were analysed and grouped into four areas:

  1. Energy / resource conservation
  2. Behaviour / Communications
  3. Systems / Projects and Capital Expenditure
  4. Waste and Recycling

These ideas needed to be processed so we called for volunteers to participate in a 24 hour event to brainstorm the ideas – “The Hackathon”. We engaged the support of SEAI and our energy providers to assist with the activity. The objective was to identify what ideas were feasible and to prioritise which ideas to go after. The event was themed around Game of Thrones and the volunteers were divided into four teams to work on the ideas. Each team was facilitated by an Innovation Ambassador, who worked to utilise best practice innovation tools to create ideas and help decision making, As an icebreaker the first task was to develop a coat of arms. The teams then sifted through the ideas, and used innovation tools such as stargazer, windows of wisdom, SUN (Suspend judgement, Understand,Nurture) and brainstorming to identify ideas to bring forward for further consideration.

The Systems / Projects and Capital Expenditure Team looked at all the ideas submitted in this area.

The ideas were sub categorised into

  1. Paperless IT and Technology System Solutions
  2. Infrastructure / Capital Expenditure
  3. Design / Planning System

Fig. 2 Stargazer assessment

The idea selected – Design and Planning System was further assessed using a model called Windows of Wisdom

The other areas identified were also examined using the same process. The output from the Hackathon was collated and is feeding into our objectives for 2019.

Some of the key initiatives we are going after in 2019 include.

  1. Projects : Development of a sustainability guideline for the implementation of Capital Projects.
  2. Behaviour : Use our energy monitoring system to implement building by building reports and develop a competitive environment around energy reduction.
  3. Waste : Improve our focus on recycling, strive to go paperless.
  4. Projects : Assess sustainability projects – Solar PV, Wind generation, water recycling, leak detection and repair and make investment decisions not only on return on investment.
  5. Projects: Incorporate Electric Charge Points and rain water harvesting into our new office build.
  6. Energy : Focus on right sizing our utilities and seek opportunities to reduce Air Change Per Hour in our clan rooms.


Alkermes is at a point where a large focus has been put on reducing resource consumption over the past few years. Our electricity consumption has gone from 118GWh in 2012 to 76GWh in 2017. This is a 38% reduction. The ability to make further reductions without innovative thinking is limited.  The objective of engaging the workforce in sustainability was definitely achieved and not only did we develop a hopper of ideas to be implemented we also identified many champions of sustainability within the organisation.

About Conor O’Riordan:

Associate Director of Maintenance Engineering at Alkermes since 2017. Prior to that I worked at Elanco Sligo and Henkel Dublin as Engineering Manager. I have 27 years Engineering Management Experience.

About Alkermes:

  • Focused on developing innovative medicines for the treatment of central nervous system (CNS) diseases
  • Diversifiedcommercial product portfolio and a substantial clinical pipeline of product candidates
    • Headquarters in Dublin, Ireland
    • Research and manufacturing facility in Athlone, Ireland
    • Manufacturing facility in Wilmington, Ohio
    • Research and development center located in Waltham, Massachusetts
    • Approximately 2,200 employees

Alkermes Athlone:

  • Facility on 35-acre site
  • Licensed by Irish Regulatory Authority (HPRA) to manufacture Medicinal Products for Human Use
  • Formulation Development, Process Development, Analytical Development & full-scale manufacturing capabilities.
  • Multiple products manufactured and/or packaged
  • Global markets – supply product to 100+markets including U.S., Europe, Asia, Brazil Russia India and China territories

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