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Inside View: Bio Development 101


At the Biotech Center we spend pretty much all day thinking about biotechnology.

We follow the latest developments in the science. We see the obstacles for small company growth and try to remove them. We think about what will give North Carolina the edge when it comes to attracting new companies.

And when one of those new companies gives us a look, it's an all-out, petal-to-the-metal frenzy to put together a response to their request. Time is of the essence.

If our proposal looks good, the next question is financing – not incentives, though they are part of the final package. Companies often need to finance a few million dollars to build or outfit their space.

So let’s recap here. A company wants to bring jobs and investment to North Carolina. It needs money to build its facility. And by the way, that facility’s primary product – what it’s using as collateral on a loan – still needs to go through an often lengthy federal approval process.

Sounds a little risky if you’re an investor, particularly one not familiar with life science.

This initial investment is crucial to bringing biotechnology companies across North Carolina. So several partners in Eastern North Carolina put together a program to educate their community of recruitment partners on the basics of a biotech company recruitment.

This Bio Development 101 Forum, sponsored by North Carolina's Eastern Region, Pitt County Economic Development Commission, and the Biotech Center, welcomed an audience of about 75.Presentations included:

  • An explanation of the process companies go through to create a biotech drug.
  • An overview of the East Carolina University’s technology transfer efforts. Investors may be comfortable getting their feet wet with smaller investments in startup companies.
  • A look at the investment side of the Medicago deal, from Alexandria Real Estate Equities. Alexandria put together the financing for the tobacco-vaccine company to locate in RTP. 

    Interestingly, Melissa Verdery, Senior Director Asset Services, North Carolina, referred to RTP as a small market for the investment company. It was a different perspective for those in Greenville.

  • A general discussion of life-science company recruitment. I got a different perspective on two issues – incentives and the Life Science Development Corporation. Look for them in a future blog post.


Those attending were pretty excited about the potential of life science. With 30 percent growth since 2001 – and 1 percent through 2009’s recession – it’s a solid space for job creation. Helping everyone understand how to make it happen – how to create those jobs in North Carolina – is what we think about every day. 

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