Source: Battelle, BIO, SSTI, Technology Talent and Capital: State Bioscience Initiatives
Role of Partners in Commercialization and Job Creation
As with any economic development activity, a variety of public and private stakeholder groups are essential to provide the significant financing, personnel requirements as well as a supportive business climate needed to successfully compete in today's marketplace. The bioscience industry has three primary partners in this endeavor each providing support in unique ways. They include policymakers, universities and research centers, as well as the industry itself.
Academic Research Centers:
Fostering collaborative partnerships between academic research centers and companies has emerged as a critical imperative in sustaining U.S. invention and innovation. The increasing volume and accelerated pace of knowledge creation has transformed the research process to the point where no one scientist or institution can sufficiently conduct wholly independent research programs. This new reality makes the relationship between academic investigators and industry researchers a central driver in the nearly three decades since the passage of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980.
The need for a stable and supportive public policy structure is pivotal to bioscience companies large and small. It is almost impossible for any state to ignore the need for selective infrastructure and development incentives to either hold existing companies or attract new enterprises. From the perspective of public policymakers bioscience industry development provides opportunities for states to diversify their economic base, generate new jobs, and improve the standard of living for citizens.
Industry collaboration with universities and policymakers has lead to significant technology industry growth over the past three decades. During that period, industry moved to become an active participant in public policy creation. Future state efforts to support industry will require sustained industry input on the policy tools necessary for success. The symbiotic relationship between academia, industry, and state and federal policy makers is important for future industry development and continued U.S. leadership in the biosciences.
II. Essential Building Blocks for Growth
Major Building Blocks of Industry Development
A strong partnership between industry, academia, and state and local government is essential for the development of a successful bioscience cluster. States with large bioscience industry clusters actively encourage and facilitate technology transfer from academic research institutions as well as helping to promote investment in bioscience companies.
There are five essential components for bioscience industry development that state policy makers should be aware of and support:
Technology transfer refers to the sharing of knowledge and facilities among federal laboratories, industry, universities, federal, state, and local governments, and third party intermediaries. Realizing that entrepreneurship is a key ingredient in economic development, the goal of state and local governments seeking to create regional economic growth is to utilize technology transfer as a mechanism to increase private sector innovation.
Once research yields a new discovery from a university or federal laboratory, there is still a great deal of work to be done to assist faculty, entrepreneurs, and companies through the commercialization process before the technology can be incorporated into the marketplace. Through technology transfer offices, universities increasingly focus their efforts on creating mechanisms to transform government invested basic research, knowledge, and capabilities in the marketplace. The passage of the Bayh-Dole Act has aided universities in moving invention and innovation into the marketplace.
Nearly every state now has programs that provide commercialization assistance to universities and technology companies in an effort to more smoothly transition invention into innovation in the marketplace. Listed below are specific examples of successful technology transfer programs:
Washington: Life Science Discovery Fund
In 2005, the State of Washington earmarked a portion of its tobacco settlement dollars to fund bioscience research and development through the $350 million Life Sciences Discovery Fund (SB 5581). In 2006, the state began allocating $35 million annually to fund research projects with economic development potential, including recruitment and facility enhancements.
California: San Diego CONNECT Program
CONNECT of San Diego is designed to link entrepreneurs with critical resources for success, by providing networking opportunities as well as expertise to San Diego's technology-based firms. Through the use of partnerships with the region's industry-specific organizations and individuals, CONNECT assists entrepreneurs and bioscience companies with commercializing ideas, patents, and other opportunities surrounding university or private research institute R&D efforts.