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Biotechnology: News & Notes from BIO (Biotechnology Industry Association)

31 Dec, 2006


State Bioscience Initiatives, 2006

States and regions across the country are working to develop and promote the growth of their bioscience bases, according to the study “Growing the Nation’s Bioscience Sector: State Bioscience Initiatives 2006,” released today by Battelle and the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO). The biosciences are a growing and vibrant sector of the U.S. economy, with more than 40,000 businesses employing 1.2 million people in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

“Growing the Nation’s Bioscience Sector: State Bioscience Initiatives 2006” profiles state policies and programs that provide support to bioscience companies. The report also provides state-by-state employment data for all bioscience sectors, including drugs and pharmaceuticals, medical devices and equipment, research, testing and medical laboratories, and agricultural feedstocks and chemicals.

“This report shows that when states invest in building bioscience industries, they are at the same time making long-term investments in their citizenry with higher education – especially in science, math and technology. These investments pay off with high-wage, new economy jobs, in a growing industry,” said Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of the BIO. “The industry’s growth and the benefits are not just in health care, but also in agricultural, industrial and environmental biosciences.”

Walter H. Plosila, vice president of the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, said, “State investments in research and development at universities and laboratories will become increasingly important in the future to continue the growth of the bioscience industries. The payoff for states will come from investments in translating this research into commercial applications and products.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Total employment in the biosciences in the United States reached 1.2 million in 2004, with bioscience workers found in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The highest rate of growth in jobs is in the research, testing, and medical laboratories sector.

  • The nation’s 1.2 million bioscience jobs generated an additional 5.8 million jobs in the economy. Each bioscience job in the United States generates 5.7 additional jobs in affiliated industries.

  • States are spending billions of dollars to support bioscience research and development, with research funds and construction of academic and medical facilities.

  • States are also using investment funds and tax incentives to attract large industry anchors, instead of solely focusing on launching and growing new bioscience ventures.

  • Smaller states that have not traditionally invested in building bioscience industries are beginning to do so.


Not surprisingly, states and regions across the country are working to develop and promote the growth of their bioscience bases with some level of activity in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. But, they recognize that not all states have the same bioscience assets; it is only by focusing on each state’s or region’s strengths that they will succeed in capturing the economic benefits of bioscience discoveries. In Iowa, this means focusing on bio-fuels. In St. Louis, it means focusing on plant and life sciences. In Maine, it means focusing on marine aquaculture. The investments that states and regions are making are long-term investments in their universities in terms of R&D dollars and state-of-the-art facilities and in their citizens in terms of education and workforce development. In most states, investments in the biosciences are part of a larger strategy that involves investing to build other technology sectors as well. An additional benefit of state investments in the biosciences is that it can help lead to new treatments and disease prevention contributing to improved health care for all its citizenry. The biosciences have the potential to support both a healthy economy and a healthy citizenry.

A challenge for states and regions in the coming years will be the leveling off of federal bioscience R&D dollars. Many of the initiatives described in this report were begun at the time in which the federal government was doubling the NIH’s research budget. Competition for funding is likely to increase, making state investments even more important. Another challenge for states will be responding to the national mandate to advance translational research, often referred to as going from “bench to bedside.” Few states have developed strategies to link basic and clinical research, although some are beginning to do so. Meeting the bioscience industry’s need for skilled, well-educated workers across a range of occupations is another area that will need to be addressed. Doing so will require industry, educators, and public officials to work together to build a pipeline of students interested in science, technology, and mathematics.

All 50 states and Puerto Rico are working to develop and promote the growth of their bioscience bases. Each of these states recognizes that by focusing on its own strengths, they will succeed in capturing the economic benefits of bioscience discoveries.

The study was funded by BIO and Battelle. The report is available on the BIO web siteat

http://www.bio.org/local/battelle2006/ and the Battelle web site at http://www.battelle.org/news/06/default.stm.

Can American Farmers Feed the Growing Biofuel Industry?

The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) recently released a report, “Achieving Sustainable Production of Agricultural Biomass for Biorefinery Feedstock,” that addresses the question “Can American farmers feed the growing biofuel industry?” The report details the potential of cellulosic biomass as an energy resource and the promise of no-till cropping for greater residue collection. It also proposes guidelines and incentives to encourage farmers to produce, harvest and deliver sufficient feedstock to the growing biorefinery and biofuels industry in an economically and environmentally sustainable way.

“As we approach the Thanksgiving travel season, Americans should feel confident that U.S. farmers can produce both abundant supplies of food for people and animals and environmentally responsible biofuels for transportation,” said Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO, which sponsored the report.

The report examines considerations for sustainable harvesting of agricultural residues – such as corn stover and cereal straws – expected to be the near-term feedstocks for biorefineries. It also discusses the expected economic benefits for individual farmers who invest in the practices and equipment needed for sustainable harvests of these feedstocks. It further points out the need for infrastructure to deliver feedstocks from farms to biorefineries.

James Hettenhaus of CEA Inc., author of the report, stated, “For the biofuel industry to expand, biorefinery operators must be confident that the supply chain for cellulosic feedstocks is robust, and farmers must be assured that they will benefit by adopting sustainable harvesting practices. As the biorefinery industry creates markets for crop residues, farmers will be more motivated to adopt practices that allow them to collect these residues while maintaining soil quality and controlling erosion. Recent successes have spurred an increase in adoption of no-till cultivation, but improved information is needed to convince farmers of the benefits.”

Brent Erickson, executive vice president of BIO’s Industrial & Environmental Section, said, “The high price of petroleum, government incentives to reduce dependence on imported oil, and growing efforts to address climate change have created a perfect storm for bio-based products, driving demand for alternative feedstocks for biofuels and chemicals and cleaner biotech-based production processes. Industrial biotechnology has enhanced the efficiency of biofuel production and made possible production of a range of polymers and chemicals from agricultural starting materials. The next challenge facing the biorefinery industry is producing, harvesting and delivering abundant feedstocks in an economically and environmentally sustainable fashion. This report begins to address that issue.”

For a complete copy of the report, please visit:

http://www.bio.org/ind/.

BIO represents more than 1,100 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations across the United States and 31 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.

 

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