29 September 2017

Strong Public Policy is the Bedrock of Biotech Economic Growth

Advances in biotechnology innovation and commercialization have had an enormous positive impact on the U.S. economy

As noted in the recently-released 2017 BIO publication Bioscience Innovation in the States: Job Creation through Public-Private Partnerships, on economic development efforts in the states, advances in biotechnology innovation and commercialization have had an enormous positive impact on the U.S. economy.

Our industry across the nation is 1.6 million workers strong at more than 41,000 companies ranging from health care and agriculture to industrial enzymes and biofuels. And this diverse industry is located in all fifty states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

Over the past decade we have seen a substantial increase in public official leadership support by providing stable and supportive public policy framework vital to our companies large and small.

Why? Because state lawmakers have become increasingly aware of the risk/reward challenges facing bioscience companies such as the high cost and the length of time involved in the development of new bioscience products. And they understand the importance of a stable and supportive business climate for small and emerging companies.

With our changing science exploration for new products and services, state governments have also generated new forms of support to create, grow, and attract our industry to their locations. Here are updated examples of the changing public-private support landscape that continue to mirror the opportunities that basic and applied research can provide those communities that support this vital technology sector.

States Are Responding to Funding Hurdles

There is a growing recognition among state policy makers that biotechnology innovation can help to solve some of the healthcare, agricultural and industrial problems that are present in America, particularly if early stage funding for emerging bioscience companies is available. Policy makers have increased their support for the biosciences through more targeted legislation to increase available funding, particularly for emerging companies in their state.

Smaller Metropolitan Areas are Gaining Ground

Lower overall costs of occupancy, coupled with academic resources and an educated work force, continue to attract companies to locations outside the nation’s largest metro areas. Even with industry consolidation, companies are driving a steadily increasing demand for space in life sciences- oriented facilities, keeping space occupied and rents stable.

Smaller states that have not traditionally invested in building their bioscience base are beginning to do so.

It appears that activities in states with smaller bioscience R&D bases have been spurred, in part, by their participation in NIH’s Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network (BRIN) and IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) programs.

Proximity to Academic Innovation is a Driving Influencer

Academic research anchors offer distinct features including the scale of their operation, their extensive collaborations with other research institutions and their multi-disciplinary approach that integrates complementary technologies to create a focus in a broad-based area of the biosciences. This broad foundation promotes both sustainability and flexibility in a rapidly changing bioscience universe.

New partnerships that integrate entrepreneurship and industry involvement into the university research experience facilitate the path from research to commercialization and help innovative ideas reach the marketplace.

Workforce: An Essential Priority for Industry and State Government

State governments and regional economic development agencies are continuing to respond to bioscience industry needs for a well-trained workforce in all phases of bioscience testing and manufacturing. Those partners, in cooperation with the industry, have established bioscience workforce initiatives across a range of the educational spectrum, including:

  • Establishing biomanufacturing technician two-year associate’s degree programs;
  • Offering new master and doctoral level programs in the bioscience field, and:
  • Determining skill training and education needs through regular and continuing outreach to bioscience companies.

States and regions are focusing activities on developing their agricultural, industrial and environmental bioscience sectors in addition to their biomedical and health sectors.

Scientists are using bioscience technologies to improve manufacturing processes, chemical synthesis and production and a number of states and regions are focusing on the opportunities this presents for their economies.

States and regions across the nation are focusing on how to leverage their growing base of academic and medical research facilities to create a physical environment that can be supportive of, and a magnet for, bioscience companies.

In particular, a new wave of strategically planned “mixed use” campus expansions are taking place across major research universities in communities across the country from Raleigh, Seattle, Portland (Oregon), New York City, Denver, Chicago and San Francisco.
States are also creating Smart Zones (MI), Innovation Zones (NJ and PA) and Technology Zones (IN, NY,WI) around universities and medical complexes that contain incubator and multi-tenant space and provide incentives for start-up companies.

Source:  Biotechnology Innovation Organization, press release, 2017-09-19.
Author: Peter M. Pellerito

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