NC: A Life Science Leader Poised for More Growth in 6 ‘SuperScieNCe’ Sectors
By Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer
North Carolina’s life science sector grew four times faster than that of the rest of the nation over the last decade.
Even so, a study of the state’s industry says the best is yet to come, as the state builds on its “SuperScieNCe” — its prodigious research and innovation strengths in such growing markets as medicine, agriculture, biomanufacturing and health informatics.
Some of the state’s SuperScieNCe assets are being unfurled to the world at the BIO 2015 convention, a global event for biotechnologists and those interested in the field, running June 15 through 18 this year at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia.
Talks by state bioscience leaders, investment meetings and other events are held at the BIO convention each year in the “one-stop shop” of the North Carolina Pavilion, organized by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center with funding support by businesses, educational institutions and other entities that populate the state’s
$73 billion-a-year infusion to North Carolina's economy
Life science companies and institutions in North Carolina generate $73 billion in economic activity and account for 228,259 direct and indirect jobs. And while employment in the nation’s life science industry rose by 7.4 percent from 2001 to 2012, North Carolina’s grew an impressive 31 percent, even with the setbacks from the Great Recession of 2008.
The data are included in an analysis of the state’s bioscience landscape. The study was conducted by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice for NCBiotech. It’s the fourth biennial assessment of North Carolina’s life science array since 2008 by the economic development consulting arm of Battelle, the largest independent non-profit research and development organization in the world.
Report: the future has never been brighter
“As one considers the growth opportunities for North Carolina in life sciences development, the future has never been brighter,” the report says. “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. Growth prospects for life science development remain high.”
Battelle identifies six life science technology sectors that are particularly strong in North Carolina, based on its analysis of innovation, research and industry activity among the state’s universities and companies. The state is poised to build on these six growing “SuperScieNCe” sectors, as NCBiotech calls them:
- Crop Genetic Engineering: the manipulation of crop genomes using various methods to isolate or implant specific genes responsible for increased pest, disease and climate resistance; improved yield; or other characteristics of end product quality.
- Outsourced Drug Development: the pre-formulation and formulation development of pharmaceutical products (with an emphasis on biologics) that are outsourced to Contract Research Organizations and Contract Manufacturing Organizations from primary holders of pharmacological compounds or research.
- Advanced Wound Healing, Surgical Devices, and Regenerative Medicine: the use of non-biological or biologically based compounds to speed healing of wounds incurring from surgery or trauma; and the use of compounds or microorganisms with regenerative properties to repair internal trauma or wounds.
- Personalized Medicine and Diagnostics: the use of genomics, biomarkers, sequencing and other cell and tissue diagnostic methods to deliver custom molecular therapeutics tailored to individual patient profiles.
- Contract Manufacturing: the 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: 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.
Battelle says North Carolina is well positioned for continued growth in the life sciences due substantially to three decades of industry investment and support from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, a state-sponsored, nonprofit organization.
“NCBiotech is thoroughly integrated into the technology-based economic development process, from funding basic scientific research to supporting commercialization, to assisting new business start-up to aiding in business recruitment and expansion efforts,” the report says.
The Battelle report “is more evidence that North Carolina’s efforts to nurture a winning life science ecosystem are proving successful, creating collaborations, partnerships and ultimately jobs,” said Doug Edgeton, president and CEO of the Biotech Center.