At a time when the global economy struggles to recover from a severe recession and uncertainty remains regarding future economic growth, bioscience industry development is generating significant attentionb both globally and at home. A number of recent studies have detailed the mounting global competition for bioscience industry development as both developed and developing nations seek to grow and advance in this high-wage, high-growth industry. This April, the U.S. government released the National Bioeconomy Blueprint noting that bioscience industries are “a large and rapidly growing segment of the world economy that provides substantial public benefit.”
Indeed, the bioscience industry stands out in job growth. While not immune from the global recession, the bioscience industry has demonstrated that it is a generally strong and steady job generator, growing jobs over the past decade at a pace well above the national average. It also has fared much better than the overall economy through the recent U.S. recession and into the first year of the recovery. When compared with other major knowledge economy industries, which are critical for advancing high quality jobs, the bioscience industry has led in job creation during the 2001 to 2010 period (see key findings below).
A primary reason for the resiliency of the bioscience industry is the diverse set of markets it serves. These markets span: biomedical drugs; diagnostics and devices; agricultural products from animal health to seeds and crop protection; and bio-based industrial products such as enzymes for industry chemical processes and bio-remediation, bio-fuels, and bio-plastics. In addition, the bioscience industry involves not only high value, export-oriented manufacturing activities, but encompasses specialty commercial research, development and testing industries to advance bioscience product development as well as specialty distribution to bring bioscience products to market.
Another factor spurring the attractiveness of bioscience industry development is how closely its growth is shaped by the fast pace of advances in biological sciences, making it truly one of the most innovative industries today. The close connections between basic research discoveries, often advanced in academic and federal laboratory settings, and industry product development within the biosciences are welldocumented—setting bioscience industry development apart from many other leading technology areas.
Significant levels of research and development in bioscience industries continuously drive innovation and new product development. A recent report by the U.S. Department of Commerce, published jointly through its Patent and Trademark Office and Economics and Statistics Administration, found that bioscience industries are among those with the highest levels of patent intensity. The report also cites the results from an earlier study by Carnegie-Mellon that found the bioscience industry to be among the leading industries in which patent protection led to capturing competitive advantages in the market place. The message is clear—a strong bioscience industry base offers the United States of America, as well as each of the 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, a high value economic driver. It stands out in its creation of high quality jobs, the breadth of markets it serves, and its research and development intensity. An excellent example of how this all comes together is what has been accomplished with the human genome project in the U.S. This $10.4 billion investment in basic sciences during the 1993 to 2010 period drove $796 billion in economic impact, and created 3.8 million job-years of employment over this period. Just as important, it launched the genomic revolution whose technologies, tools and basic biological knowledge have found applications across a wide range of economic activities beyond human healthcare, including agriculture and veterinary medicine as well as environmental remediation to biofuels and other industrial applications (see text box below for more details).