Throughout 2021, there was a great deal of advances in the biotechnology sector in the United States – thanks, in part, to state-led and regional economic development initiatives which have created jobs, advanced educational opportunities, and championed innovation.
According to the recently published report by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and the Council of State Bioscience Associations (CSBA), “Driving the Bioscience Economy Forward During the COVID-19 Pandemic”, state and regional initiatives ensured that the United States continues to be competitive in the global marketplace as a leader in the bioscience industry.
The purpose of the report is “to help our partners out there … understand how we are a part of the larger ecosystem in a growing number of states,” said Pete Pellerito, Senior Policy Adviser for Federal/State Economic Development & Technology Transfer Lead at BIO. “This report really reinforces the depth and the diversity of our geographic footprint in the country.”
“We can build all the new buildings we want, we can bring all the new equipment we want, have all the intellectual property in place, but if we don’t have the people to drive it … [all] forward, any state, any region, is going to be at a disadvantage,” Pellerito continued.
Ultimately, the U.S. bioscience industry employs 1.87 million people across more than 101,000 U.S. businesses.
Here are just a few examples of how states are driving the bioscience economy.
Biomanufacturing is a type of manufacturing that leverages biological systems for the production of commercially vital biomolecules and biomaterials for medicines, food, and beverage processing as well as industrial use. State-level measures noted in the report to advance biomanufacturing include Ohio’s Advanced Manufacturing Initiative, which is a competitive grant program to encourage new advanced manufacturing project and service activity.
In North Carolina, the state’s Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training and Education Center (BTEC) provides hands-on education and training both in biomanufacturing methods as well as bioprocessing concepts. This training and education is in full compliance with cGMP (current Good Manufacturing Practice), a set of regulations published by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Additionally, North Carolina provides both Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) state matching grants as well as a manufacturing sales tax exemption on equipment.
Meanwhile, Connecticut has a Manufacturing Innovation Fund that offers worker training and apprenticeship programs, loans, grants, and vouchers. In addition, the state is aiming to support the creation of at least 15,000 new jobs over the next five years in advanced manufacturing, data science, and insurance technology.
The importance of public-private partnership
Public-private partnerships will continue to be key to the development of the bioscience industry in the United States.
In Massachusetts, Harvard and MIT came together in 2021 to start building a 40,000 square foot facility to create partnerships between the biopharmaceutical sector, academia, and medical leaders to advance the development of new treatment technologies for patients. The state government of Massachusetts is involved in this effort through the Massachusetts Life Science Center.
Over in Tennessee, the state has directed $2.5 million of the state’s budget during the 2021-2022 fiscal year towards the development of public-private partnerships to develop animal health drug products by working with universities, which have strong veterinary medicine and agricultural programs that study animal dermatological conditions and cancers.
What’s next for the bioscience industry?
As the 2022 elections are approaching, Pellerito stated “I have never felt that support for our industry has been partisan. I think it’s very bipartisan.”
No matter what the political winds have in store later this year, the biotech sector will continue to play an integral role in job creation and innovation across different states and regions, he said.
When asked regarding what efforts are being made to advance opportunities for members of historically underrepresented communities across different states and regions, Pellerito pointed to BIO’s BIOEquality Agenda, stating that increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the bioscience industry is of the utmost importance both to BIO members as well as to various academic partners.
As the report makes clear, despite the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, the bioscience industry is in a strong position for continued growth. Ultimately, the success of the industry is dependent upon maintaining and expanding existing partnerships, all while creating new ones to further advance the opportunities that it provides in the communities it collaborates with and serves.