North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley plans to visit Ireland for two days this week to discuss the biotechnology industry.

Easley plans to meet with private companies and government officials.

“North Carolina is steadily growing its biotechnology cluster and is ranked No. 3 in the country,” Easley said. “But we have to attract new partners from those countries active in biotech and biologics.”

Ireland is home to more than 170 life science companies and employs some 35,000 people in biotech-related fields.

North Carolina now has 350 biotechnology, contract research and other life science-related companies than employ some 46,000 people, according to the governor’s office.