Battelle Study Shows Strong NC Bioscience Growth


North Carolina’s 30-year investment in the life sciences is paying off by creating great jobs and revenue for the state, according to a new report from the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice.

The report, “2012 Evidence and Opportunity: Biotechnology Impacts in North Carolina,” is the latest in a series of biennial studies explaining the state’s success in driving the growth of its biotechnology base.

The report is scheduled for presentation by Battelle, NCBIO and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center to state lawmakers and others today in Raleigh.

North Carolina is third in the nation, behind only California and Massachusetts, in the size of its life-science sector. More than 58,000 North Carolinians have bioscience jobs now, and they earn an average $78,000 a year. That’s nearly twice the pay earned by other private-sector workers statewide.

Among its key figures, the new Battelle report says the bioscience sector in North Carolina:

  • Supports 237,665 direct and indirect jobs
  • Those workers earn a total of $14.8 billion a year
  • Generates $59 billion in economic activity across the state
  • Produces $1.73 billion in taxes for state and local government
  • Grew 23.5 percent from 2001 to 2010
  • That’s faster than any other major bioscience state
  • It’s 3.5 times greater than overall U.S. bioscience growth
  • It compares to a 2.8 percent decline in N.C.’s private-sector jobs during the same period

Battelle linked North Carolina’s success in building its life-science foundation to the 30-year push by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, translating state funding into life-science commerce.

NCBiotech works globally in company recruitment, and statewide with new-business creation and financial support for university spinouts and other promising young startups. The Biotech Center also provides educational, networking and community-building support statewide, from six strategically dispersed offices.

“This report shows that North Carolina’s commitment to the life sciences has proven to be a great way for us to create quality, high-paying jobs by playing to our strengths of academic excellence, superior workforce training, reasonable costs and unbeatable quality of life,” said Norris Tolson, NCBiotech president and CEO.

Leveraging Success By Investing in Biotechnology

David Hubert first got his foot in the BASF door in 2008 through the Industrial Fellowship Program, funded jointly by participating companies and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. Since then his career has blossomed like the plants in his lab.

Read more

Durham-based biopharmaceutical development company Chimerix, has been expanding its Durham headquarters since relocating from San Diego in 2005. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration had granted Fast Track designation for CMX001 for the prevention of cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection.

Read more

Ocular Systems, Inc., Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and the North Carolina Eye Bank have announced the formation of a new company based on new technology for engineering replacement corneas for transplantation. Funding came in part from a Collaborative Funding Grant from NCBiotech.

Read more

Mitchell Horowitz, Battelle managing director and vice president, agreed. He cited a portion of the executive summary opening, saying North Carolina’s bioscience sector “not only withstood the toughest of economic times, but in the bottom-line measures of direct job creation, employment impacts and industry competitiveness, continued to advance through the severe recession and weak economic recovery.”  

The Battelle study includes a review of 74 companies in the NCBiotech loan portfolio, noting those firms currently generate $71 million a year in state and local tax revenues. That alone is nearly four times the total annual appropriation for NCBiotech.

Some of the data in the Battelle report are drawn from NCBiotech’s unique company census system conducted by the Center’s professional librarians.

Other data collected by the NCBiotech library staff agree with Battelle’s findings of bioscience growth and benefit statewide.

For example, a staff analysis found that every $1 in business loans from the Center parlays into $117 in subsequent venture and other funding to those firms.

The library analysis also shows that each dollar NCBiotech puts into its various research grant programs leverages from $4 to $70 in additional funding from sources such as federal, commercial and foundation funding. That’s a 400 percent return, even at the lowest return rates which reflect newer programs that haven’t yet had time to reach their full potential.

Another review found that NCBiotech’s industrial development team has been instrumental in successfully recruiting 25 company projects, adding more than 1,750 jobs that will create $2 billion in annual economic activity.

The Battelle report indicates why North Carolina faces stiff competition for biotech jobs. Every U.S. state and at least two dozen countries actively recruit biotech jobs. And some areas are spending hundreds of millions to achieve what North Carolina has experienced.

“We’re very fortunate to have this solid base of life-science leadership,” said Sam Taylor, president of NCBIO. “But we cannot become complacent. Our state and our region need the economic and societal benefits that go hand-in-hand with a strong bioscience infrastructure.” 

scroll back to top of page