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Bioscience Jobs, Pay Outpace Other NC Business

North Carolina's life science industry continues its strong growth, according to a report released by the Battelle Institute at BIO annual conference. 

The biosciences outpaced private sector growth from 2007-2012 (the timeframe for the report). And despite the overall economic struggle to claw back from the Great Recession, life science salaries in the state rose nearly 13 percent, to nearly $82,000.

During the same time the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and its partners were driving stellar job and pay growth, the overall private sector lost 4.9 percent of its jobs, and those that remained paid about half as much -- an average of only $43,028.

The report noted that North Carolina is "among the top tier across all states in key measures of bioscience R&D and innovation including in academic R&D, NIH (National Institutes of Health) research funding, and venture capital investments."

The state's bioscience companies also brought in $341 million in venture capital investment in 2013. It's racked up a total of $1.2 billion since 2009, a $251 million increase from 2009 to 2013. That shows movement in the right direction, but it's a far cry from California's $3.94 billion venture capital haul for its life science sector -- in 2013 alone. Or the $1.65 billion rustled up by venture investors in Massachusetts' bioscience companies. Maryland also beat North Carolina, logging $438 million in VC for 2013.

And while the numbers are impressive, and important, BIO president Jim Greenwood and Battelle’s managing director Mitch Horowitz reminded us of importance, and impressiveness, beyond the numbers:

  • Better understanding of disease, and new medicines to treat it, are a result of biotech.
  • Advances in ag biotech will help us feed the world, and power and heal it too.
  • Better protection and remediation for the environment lies with biotech processes.
  • And sustainability in industrial processes and products will come from applying biotechnologies across many industries.

From 2007-2012, North Carolina and 27 other states added bioscience jobs. At the end of 2012, 1.62 million people made a living in biosciences. Their $88,000+ average salary nationally helps translate industry impact to 7.86 million total jobs.

North Carolina  ranks among the top in drugs and pharmaceuticals; ag feedstock and chemicals; research, testing and medical labs; and bioscience-related distribution. The state also continues to add to its medical device strength, adding more than 500 jobs from 2007-2012.

This year, Battelle reported on metropolitan statistical areas as well. This showcased North Carolina’s strengths across the country. Category by category, the results and top MSAs are below.

Agricultural Feedstock and Chemicals: Specialized and Sizeable

  • Greensboro-High Point, 710 employees
  • Fayetteville, 247 employees
  • Wilmington, 255 employees

Drugs and Pharmaceuticals: Large and Specialized

  • Raleigh-Cary, 3,169 employees
  • Durham-Chapel Hill, 6,116​ employees
  • Rocky Mount, 2,208 employees

Medical Devices: Expanded

  • Greensboro-High Point, 1697 employees

Research and Testing: Sizeable and Specialized

  • Raleigh-Cary, 2,979 employees
  • Durham-Chapel Hill (top medium MSA), 6,622 employees
  • Wilmington, 1,630 employees
  • Burlington (top Small MSA), 1,537 employees

Bioscience-Related Distribution: Sizable and Concentrated

  • Raleigh-Cary, 2873 employees
  • Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton, 651 employees


Robin: The biosciences industry is still not yet fully engaged as is possible in all opportunities in research and workforce development...but the industry is getting much closer. Good reminder of the numbers and positive impact. Thanks.

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