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NC Life Science Contribution Hits $73B, 228,000 Jobs

North Carolina’s life science sector is producing unparalleled job growth and economic expansion for the state, growing nearly 31 percent from 2001 to 2012, in contrast to 1 percent overall private sector employment growth during the same period.

Life science companies and institutions generate $73 billion in economic activity for the state, a jump of 60 percent since the recession hit in 2008, and account for 228,259 direct and indirect jobs – 5 percent of all employment in the state.

The data are included in the 2014 biennial analysis of the sector statewide, conducted since 2008 by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

The Center released the document on its website today. The report quantifies the effectiveness of the state’s 31 years of support to maintain North Carolina’s leadership in the increasingly competitive realm of bioscience commerce.

The report shows that the average salary of life science workers across the state remains at nearly double the overall private sector wage, increasing from $78,000 two years ago to $81,000 in the most recent analysis.

Collaborations, partnerships set NC apart

 “We’re delighted to see, in this report, that the life sciences continue to provide ever-increasing benefits to North Carolinians,” said Doug Edgeton, NCBiotech president and CEO.

“It’s more evidence that North Carolina’s efforts to nurture a winning life science ecosystem are proving successful, creating collaborations, partnerships and ultimately jobs,” he added, noting that this analysis is conducted by a highly respected third party, the economic development consulting arm of Battelle, which is the world’s largest independent non-profit research and development organization.

NCBiotech provides targeted support services tailored to the specialized task of converting scientific and technological discoveries into commercially feasible products and services. It’s a highly regulated sphere requiring infusions of funding at many levels, over many years, to create and maintain an environment for success.

The Center’s support includes low-interest loans to young life science companies as well as grants to help commercialize promising university technologies. Every dollar loaned results in an average $118 infusion of outside venture or other funding. Each $1 in grant funding is met with an average $28 in outside funding.

North Carolina consistently ranks among the top three life science states because of its prolific university research base and its broad life science commercial infrastructure, including its highly trained workforce.

NC’s life science future ‘has never been brighter’

In its executive summary, Battelle said North Carolina’s life science future “has never been brighter.”

“Global prospects for life sciences development remain strong, while North Carolina has a realistic ‘line of sight’ to specific growth opportunities that build upon its industry strengths and research assets and allow North Carolina to differentiate itself and compete on a national and global scale.”

In particular, the Battelle analysts cited six areas of technology strength in North Carolina:

  • Crop Genetic Engineering to produce food crops resistant to pest, disease, and climate damage;
  • Outsourced Drug Development involving the state’s globally leading cluster of contract research and manufacturing organizations;
  • Advanced  Wound  Healing,  Surgical  Devices,  and  Regenerative  Medicine  involving compounds, microorganisms and other technologies bringing new options to military and civilian markets;
  • Personalized Medicine and Diagnostics involving use of genomics, biomarkers, sequencing, and other cell and tissue diagnostic methods to deliver custom molecular therapeutics tailored to individual patient profiles;
  • Contract Manufacturing involving outsourced manufacturing of pharmaceuticals, biologics, vaccines, and other life science-related commercial products using state-of-the-art machinery and processes designed to reduce risk of contamination and improve production efficiency;
  • Health Informatics involving the use of databases (big data) and clinical decision support tools associated with patients and clinician activity through electronic medical records to improve health care efficiency, delivery and outcomes; also includes some use of bioinformatics to tailor treatment strategies to individual patients.

State sees payback from NCBiotech loans to companies

The report also noted that 95 companies receiving early loans from NCBiotech are actively conducting business in the state, generating almost $2.9 billion in economic activity, providing or supporting 8,945 jobs that earn $633 million in labor income. This activity yields an estimated $70 million in state and local tax revenues. Based on U.S. Bureau of Census government finance data, Battelle estimated the state government revenue portion at $44.9 million – more than three times the $13.6 million state budget appropriation to NCBiotech.

Since January 2008, the report noted, NCBiotech has been actively involved in 36 key life science company recruitment or expansion projects, with the potential to create a total of 2,522 jobs once they reach their projected employment levels.

“Looking forward, it will be essential for … NCBiotech to work with the state, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, and industry and university partners to maximize the growth opportunities for North Carolina’s life sciences from existing innovation, research, and industry activities,” concluded the executive summary.

“Moreover, the strong track record of … NCBiotech both in Science and Technology Development for the life sciences and in Business and Technology Development supporting life science entrepreneurship and new business formation are more critical than ever for the future of North Carolina’s life science industry development.”

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