Global Biotech Competition Heats Up
Policymakers and economic development agencies are focusing intently on the biotechnology sector as an engine for economic growth as the race to secure these companies grows more intense.
Introduction courtesy of Gautam Jaggi, leader, Ernst & Youngâ€™s Global Biotechnology Center and managing editor of â€śBeyond Borders,â€ť Ernst & Youngâ€™s global biotechnology report.
From its earliest days, the modern biotechnology industry has concentrated in geographic clusters. The industry was born in California and the Boston area in the mid-1970s, when pioneering companies were founded to commercialize products based on scientific breakthroughs in molecular biology. Since then, the industry has spread around the world, but its growth has typically been clustered in certain geographic areas. In the United States, the most successful clusters have included the San Francisco Bay Area, New England, San Diego, North Carolinaâ€™s Research Triangle Park, Maryland, and Los Angeles.
Today, competition for biotechnology companies is fierce, as policymakers and economic development agencies focus intently on the sector as an engine for economic growth. Regions are trying to gain competitive advantage by identifying and aligning research, education, infrastructure, and private sector activities around particular fields.
Regions looking to replicate the success of existing clusters often start by identifying the drivers of success, which include:
â€˘ Strong research. Startups created from university research frequently have been located close to their founding scientistsâ€”creating clusters around leading research universities.
â€˘ Venture capital. Drug development is an expensive and time-consuming proposition, and it has taken visionary venture capitalists to recognize the commercial potential of scientific advances and provide the financial backing. Venture capital investors have historically preferred to fund companies in their own geographic region to maximize their own direct oversight and involvement.
â€˘ Incentives for commercialization. Incentives that increase the propensity to commercialize can encourage product development and company formation. Measures by state university systems to streamline paperwork related to commercialization activities or increase royalty payments to inventors have been key stimuli to research, development, and commercialization.
â€˘ Highly educated workforce. Beyond entrepreneurial scientists and business executives, biotechnology companies need access to highly educated and skilled workers. Clusters that have evolved in close proximity to top research universities can draw from a strong labor pool. But for less-mature clusters, the ability to provide highly skilled workers has required longer-term investments in education and training.
â€˘ Specialized real estate. Life sciences research requires specialized laboratory spaces, such as â€śwet labsâ€ť that provide features, including special ventilation and utility needs such as natural gas, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. And research on contagious pathogens requires higher containment biosafety lab facilities. These specialized facilities are required to preserve the integrity of the research, as well as to prevent contamination of external spaces.
â€˘ Tax and other incentives. Governments can facilitate private sector investment through incentives, such as R&D tax credits and net operating loss (NOL) carry forward provisions.
While it is easy to identify the success factors that have built booming biotechnology clusters in the past, it is harder for regions that lack several of these ingredients to jump start the virtuous cycle of industry development.
With increasing competition for biotechnology companies, national, state, and local governments often face significant constraints in the forms of inadequate venture capital, inexperienced management, and lack of infrastructure. One solution is to identify competitive niches, which can then be leveraged into broader participation.
Biotechnology will continue to drive global competition and health sector convergence as geographies compete for their stake in the health care market of the future.
The views expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ernst & Young LLP.
North Carolina: A Wealth of Biotechnology Opportunities
North Carolina has a lot to offer in the biotechnology and life sciences arena: More clinical research organizations operate in this state than any other; more than 450 companies make it the third largest biotechnology hub in the U.S.; and the state is home to the worldâ€™s largest and best-known research parkâ€”the 7,000-acre Research Triangle Park.
But in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, state leaders know they cannot rest on past successes. That is why they have invested in an integrated set of collaborative programs to maintain North Carolinaâ€™s competitive edge.
BPTC, the North Carolina Biomanufacturing and Pharmaceutical Training Consortium, is a statewide partnership designed to ensure that biomanufacturing companies have the skilled workers they need when they need them. BPTC is a collaborative effort founded by North Carolinaâ€™s universities and community colleges, the non-profit North Carolina Golden LEAF Foundation, the N.C. Biotechnology Center, and the industryâ€™s North Carolina Biosciences Organization.
Under the BPTC umbrella are several educational initiatives, including:
â€˘ The Biotechnology Training and Education Center (BTEC) at North Carolina State University. Opened in September 2007, this facility is the largest of its kind in the nation. Its on-site and distance education programs will train as many as 2,000 students and prospective employees per year.
â€˘ The Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Training Enterprise (BRITE) Center at North Carolina Central University. This program is designed to provide bachelorâ€™s degrees and advanced education in pharmaceutical and bioprocess development and related fields. A 52,000-square-foot facility currently under construction will provide laboratories for scholars conducting research in critical areas of biotechnology.
â€˘ The BioNetwork, the community college systemâ€™s network of campus-based education and training programs located throughout the state. The reach of these programs is particularly important because North Carolinaâ€™s biotechnology industry is no longer concentrated solely in the Research Triangle Park area.
Research Triangle Park set the standard for research parks when it opened in the 1950s. It remains a world leader, home to well-known names such as GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, and Biogen Idec. But today, North Carolinaâ€™s 54,000 life sciences workers are finding employment throughout the state.
â€˘ The former mill town of Kannapolis, NC (near Charlotte, NC) has staked its future on a $1 billion biotechnology research campus backed by Dole Foods Co. owner David Murdock in partnership with Duke University and the University of North Carolina. The campus will focus on agriculture, nutrition, and health research.
â€˘ From bioagricultural companies involved in pest control to innovative nanotechnology advancements, biotechnology and life sciences companies in the Piedmont Triad region generate more than $4 billion in revenue annually.
â€˘ The N.C. Biotechnology Center, the first state-sponsored biotech center when it opened in Research Triangle Park in the 1980s, now has regional offices in Greenville and Wilmington to the east, Winston-Salem in the stateâ€™s central region, Charlotte to the south, and Asheville in the western mountains.
Both the new training initiatives and regional offices resulted from a strategic plan entitled New Jobs Across North Carolina. Recognizing that vision and risk-taking must shape smart and practical decisions, Governor Mike Easley, in 2003, charged a committee of 120 experts to develop a long-term strategic plan to help guide future state investments in biotechnology. The group, led by former governors Jim Hunt and Jim Martin, identified 54 recommendations for building the industry statewideâ€”with the goal of employing 125,000 North Carolinians in biotechnology-related jobs by 2023.
â€śMy advice to you is to be aggressive and be bold,â€ť Gov. Easley told the steering committee when it began its work. â€śLetâ€™s just keep going forward.â€ť
North Carolinaâ€™s biotechnology industry continues to do just that.
Central Kentuckyâ€™s Leader in Biotechnology
Biotechnology is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States, and Lexington, KY is committed to fueling the growth of this industry in the area. With many such companies in Central Kentuckyâ€”the majority of those in Lexingtonâ€”these research-intensive companies have a tremendous impact on the economy. Calling Central Kentucky home are Alltech Biotechnology, Martek Biosciences Corporation, Intranasal Therapeutics, and a host of others.
Commerce Lexington Inc. and the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce partner with the University of Kentucky (UK) and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Developmentâ€™s Department of Commercialization and Innovation (DCI) to grow, recruit, and retain biotechnology companies. Under the leadership of Dr. Lee T. Todd, president of UK, a goal was set to become a top 20 research university. Providing a supportive environment for professors and researchers to start companies is a key mechanism by which to attain this goal.
To further the progress of assisting entrepreneurs, Commerce Lexington, UK, and Lexington Fayette Urban County Government formed the Bluegrass Business Development Partnership (BBDP). The BBDPâ€™s goal is to be a one-stop, super-service provider, linking entrepreneurs with the information they need to be successful, including assistance in financial planning, business plans, funding sources, real estate, and service providers. The BBDP also designed a new Web site to assist entrepreneurs, www.thinkbluegrass.com.
Lexington is home to the only research and development business park in the state of Kentuckyâ€”UKâ€™s Coldstream Research Campus. Coldstream, a 735-acre office park, was specifically designed for recruiting high-tech and biotechnology companies, as well as university centers and start-ups. Coldstream offers intellectual capital and resources from UK, as well as infrastructure for existing and new companies.
Through DCI, Kentucky created the first SBIR/STTR grant match program in the country. This innovative initiative has attracted the attention of many new biotechnology firms, such as Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals, which recently opened a new office in downtown Lexington. The company, which provides unique animal models of human diseases for drug discovery and development, selected Lexington because of the SBIR/STTR match program and the cityâ€™s vibrant academic community. Within five years, Transposagen will create 15 high-paying jobs.
The Lexington community offers a wide variety of advantages to companiesâ€”including a strong, diverse, and educated workforce. The 2005 Census data ranked the city the eighth most educated in the nation; 35.6% of the population 25 years or older has at least a bachelorâ€™s degree. This is due in part to being within 30 miles of 12 different institutions of higher education. Over 62,000 students are enrolled in these institutions, graduating close to 10,500 annually.
For more information on what Lexington offers, contact Gina Greathouse, senior vice president of economic development, Commerce Lexington Inc., at 859-225-5005 or visit www.commercelexington.com.
Roanoke Valley: Virginiaâ€™s Rising Biotech Star
The Roanoke Valley of Virginia is making a name for itself in the life sciences sector. New ideas and products are always coming out of this nine-government region in western Virginia, and in the next few years, so will new doctors.
Construction will soon begin on a new medical school, which is a joint venture between the Carilion Clinic and nearby Virginia Tech. The school will welcome its first class in 2010. Another Carilion/Virginia Tech collaboration is a research institute, which will be housed in the same building and focus on translating medical research into real world applications for patient care. The two operations will be located adjacent Carilionâ€™s flagship hospital, Roanoke Memorial just south of the city of Roanokeâ€™s downtown business district.
Several years ago Carilion, the largest healthcare company in the region and employer, and the city of Roanoke began redeveloping the area into a planned biomedical park. An office building, which houses the Carilion Biomedical Institute and several life sciences-related firms, has been completed and work has begun on the clinic offices. The new activity is a natural fit for the region. Already home to the Carilion Clinic, two Hospital Corporation of America hospitals, and a large Veterans Administration facility, the Roanoke Valley has served as the hub of first-rate medical care for the broader region. Recent plans have enhanced that role beyond traditional patient care and treatment to include the research and education components.
The new medical school is patterned after Harvard Medical Schoolâ€™s Health Sciences and Technology program and Cleveland Clinicâ€™s Lerner College of Medicine; it will have a small class size and be dedicated to training physician researchers. Class size is projected to be 40 students per year. In addition to a traditional medical school curriculum, all students will receive training in research methods, conduct original research, and write a thesis as a condition of graduation. To accommodate the expanded graduation requirements, the school will have a five-year curriculum instead of the traditional four-year curriculum.
An earlier Carilion partnership with Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia produced the Carilion Biomedical Institute, which aims to bring life sciences research to commercial applications. Some CBI projects include research into the use of chip technology to eliminate the need for fluorescent dyes in diagnostics tests; magnetic targeting devices that can locate screw holes in the intermedullary nails used to repair long-bone fractures, and a new generation of technologies that target eye disease. Virginia Tech, located just 45 minutes southwest of Roanokeâ€™s downtown business district, provides an important resource for the regionâ€™s life sciences sector. In addition to partnerships with Carilion, the universityâ€™s biosciences researchers are consulted worldwide for expertise on plant, animal, and microbial genomics, as well as biotechnology applications. In fact, Virginia Tech faculty members in the biological sciences represent the largest concentration of non-medical biology expertise in Virginia.
The proximity to Virginia Techâ€” and other nearby institutions of higher learningâ€”is one of the factors that contributes to the talented workforce in the area, according to Sam English, founder of the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, a Roanoke-based organization that promotes innovation and assists entrepreneurs. He also cites the cost effectiveness of doing business in the valley as another factor.
Kansasâ€™ Biotech Powerhouse
Manhattan, KS, home of Kansas State University (KSU), is increasing its already formidable presence in animal health, food safety, food security, biosecurity research, and engineering. Manhattan was recently named one of five finalists for the $450 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility by the Department of Homeland Security. KSU presently has 200 scientists/researchers who work in the area of agri-bioscience, and faculty members generated more than $114 million in outside funding in the 2007 fiscal year.
Manhattan is also part of the â€śKansas City Animal Health Corridorâ€ť that extends east into Missouri. Nearly one-third of the $15 billion global market in animal care services and products is produced there. It includes more than 120 animal health organizations. KSU is an acknowledged leader in the development of animal vaccines, such as those that combat West Nile virus. This base of technologies promises to grow even more under the Kansas Economic Growth Act (KEGA). Under KEGA, funding support for bioscience research at KSU will continue at a strong pace.
Major bioscience and research initiatives in Manhattan include:
â€˘ The Biosecurity Research Institute, a $55 million-plus federal project ensuring protection of the nationâ€™s food supply. The institute received $1.5 million from the Kansas Bioscience Authority to add high-end video capabilities to its educational infrastructure.
â€˘ The KSU Grain Science Complex, which is the first professional institute in the United States to provide technical training in support of market development activities for U.S. grains and soybeans. Staff there teach agricultural and business courses to students from around the globe.
â€˘ The National Institute For Strategic Technology Acquisition and Commercialization, which is a not-for-profit organization focusing on technology transfer and commercialization of over 1,100 patents donated by Fortune 500 and technology companies.
â€˘ The Bioprocessing and Industrial Value Added Program, which fosters research focused on turning Kansas crops into value-added products and testing cutting-edge processes used to produce new grain-based food and non-food products. This includes everything from biodegradable shell casings to disposable knives and forks made out of grain.
â€˘ The Grain Marketing and Production Research Center, which is the USDAâ€™s main facility for conducting research on measuring and controlling the quality of cereal grains throughout the grain industry. Major initiatives include study of wind erosion, ensuring grain quality and safety, and control of insect pests in the food supply.
â€˘ The Terry C. Johnson Center for Basic Cancer Research, which is located at KSU, continuously advances research and enhances graduate and undergraduate education and training programs. It also promotes public awareness and prevention of cancers through community outreach.
Several biotechnology-related companies have already made a home in Manhattan, such as Nanoscale, a company that develops and commercializes NanoActive materials, and NutriJoy, Inc., a company based upon donated technologies.
In December 2007, General Electric Aviation announced the selection of KSU for the location of a University Development Center. Work performed at the site will include software development, verification and validation, mechanical design, and hardware design, eventually resulting in the creation of over 40 engineering jobs.
Manhattan represents the best of all worlds: top research facilities, a dynamic college atmosphere, and an appealing living environment that is winning notice all over the country.
Iowa: A Growing Bioeconomy
In Iowa, bioscience critical mass and raw biomass are abundant, and scientists and researchers find the support they need to develop the complex solutions the world is seeking. The stateâ€™s bioeconomy is fueled by rapid growth in the fields of renewable energy and plant, animal, and human genomics.
Through the research strength of Iowaâ€™s world-class universities, pro-business environment, and enviable quality of life, an increasing number of businesses, researchers, and scientists are finding the state of Iowa to be life-changing.
The proof is in the rankings. Iowa ranks first in the nation in biotechnology, according to Business Facilities, a position earned through Iowaâ€™s advancements in the agricultural feedstock and chemicals category. And according to a 2004 Battelle Memorial Institute report, Iowaâ€™s bioscience strengths are in bioeconomy, advanced food and feed, animal systems, integrated post-genomic medicine, integrated drug discovery, development and production, integrated biosecurity, and biomedical imaging.
Iowaâ€™s prominence in bioscience is bolstered by three funding streams that allow companies to foster innovation and grow their workforces:
â€˘ The Iowa Values Fund, a $500 million business incentive fund, is set aside to create more bioscience companies and careers in Iowa.
â€˘ The $2.5 million Commercialization Fund is used to help small- to medium-sized Iowa companies in industries such as bioscience commercialize innovation that fosters competitive, profitable companies.
â€˘ The Iowa Power Fund is a $100 million fund designed to promote research and development, knowledge transfer, technology innovation, and the improvement of economic competitiveness as it relates to the effort to produce renewable energy and improve energy efficiency.
This funding, coupled with a commitment from state universities and community colleges, has pushed Iowa to the forefront of the bioscience revolution. For example, the University of Iowa in Iowa City is currently constructing the BioVentures Center, a research park dedicated solely to the advancement of biosciences. This is in addition to the Oakdale Research Center (which has a number of biotechnology company partners), the Center for Advanced Drug Development, and the Division of Pharmaceutical Services. The university also has the Center for Biocatalysts and Bioprocessing on campus.
In Ames, researchers at Iowa State University work in the Center for Crop Utilization Research, the Plant Science Institute, the Iowa Biologics Facility, and the Center for Plant Genomics. At the community college level, the Iowa Department of Economic Developmentâ€™s Industrial New Jobs Training Program provides no-cost or reduced-cost job-training services to new employees of eligible businesses through Iowaâ€™s 15 community colleges.
All of this and more make Iowa an exciting place for over 1,800 bioscience establishments to do business. The state has defined itself as a serious contender in bioscience through its commitment to partnerships among government, education/research, and business. Bioscience business leaders, researchers, and government officials are working together to bring products to market and establish an open environment for new and ongoing research.
The result is a state strong in all aspects of the bioscience industries. Iowa is the epicenter of the bioscience revolution. For more information on how your company can join, visit www.iowalifechanging.com.
Mission Possible: How Austin Is Becoming a Biotech Hub
The Austin, TX area offers biotechnology innovators and entrepreneurs a unique and attractive combination of attributes that has already brought in some of the nationâ€™s leading biotechnology and life sciences companies.
The career of Dr. Matt Winkler shows how it all comes together. Dr. Winkler came from the University of Texas and started Ambion, which is a market leader in the development and supply of innovative RNA-based life sciences research and molecular biology products. The company grew to 400 employees before Dr. Winkler sold it to Applied Biosystems, another technology leader in the life sciences marketplace, which still has a significant presence in the Austin area.
Dr. Winkler then started a new company, Asuragen, which leverages its RNA and miRNA expertise into molecular diagnostics, pharmacogenomic services, and therapeutics, and now has 130 employees. Asuragen recently spun out another new company, Mirna Therapeutics, which works with microRNA to find new ways to fight diseases like cancer. The creation of these three companies reflects the powerful combination of entrepreneurship and innovation that Austin offers. By uniting research universities, venture capital, a talented local workforce, and community leadership dedicated to fostering successful business development, Austin has made itself an ideal choice to grow a biotechnology business.
In February 2007, the Austin Chamber of Commerce, which represents five counties with a population of over 1.5 million residents, formed the BioAustin Council to coordinate the growth of the Austin biocluster. Bruce Leander, chairman of the BioAustin Council and former president of Ambion, describes the Councilâ€™s mission: â€śThe Austin region is fully committed to the growth of the bio/life sciences industry cluster. Through the BioAustin Council, local life sciences companies will have more opportunities than in the past to network and collaborate.â€ť
Everything in biotechnology starts with innovation, new ideas, and the resources to explore them. Austin has earned its reputation as a center for innovation thanks in large part to the world-class University of Texas, home of the well-regarded College of Biomedical Engineering and its nationally ranked College of Pharmacy, along with over 100 research units in areas such as biochemistry, biological and medical engineering, and nanotechnology. Research being done at the University of Texas and SEMATECH (the semiconductor research consortium) is exploring the crossover between nanotechnology and biological applications. Overall, there are over 20 major colleges within 200 miles of Austin with a total enrollment in excess of 250,000 students. This provides an almost endless pool of young, well-educated talent and a fertile source of new ideas. Itâ€™s no accident that Austin inventors have been assigned patents at a rate that has outstripped other metropolitan areas during the past five yearsâ€”a fact that led the Wall Street Journal to rank Austin one of the most inventive cities in the U.S.
Developing ideas, however, is not enoughâ€”a biotechnology cluster needs the funding, expertise, and infrastructure to get ideas out of the university and into the marketplace. Austin is one of the top regions in the country for venture capital investment; venture capitalists poured over $650 million into Austin during 2007, and on a per capita basis, only Boston, San Francisco, and San Jose take in more venture capital investment than Austin. There are already six venture capital companies in Austin providing funding for life sciences and biotechnology. The Austin Technology Incubator, one of the top-ranked incubators in the country, provides vertical integration, talent, and expertise. Similarly, the Texas Life-sciences Commercialization Center in Georgetown, TX, 30 miles north of Austin, provides wet labs, clean rooms, and shared business resources for emerging technology companies engaged in biotechnology, life sciences, and nanotechnology business. These incubators provide physical space and assistance with getting products to market.
Most biotechnology clusters in the United States are located along the east or west coasts; Austin, the only one in the Southwest, is strategically located in the center of the country and sits astride I-35, a major route for U.S./Mexico/Canada trade. Austin offers considerably more affordable living than other major biotechnology centers, with a median home price 16% less than the national average, and one of the lowest state and local tax burdens in the nation, making it an attractive location in which to work and live. â€śWhen you get right to it, Ambion is in Austin because itâ€™s easy to recruit scientists to live and work here,â€ť says Dr. Winkler.
Among the 100 biotechnology and life sciences companies that already call the Austin area home is Luminex, which develops, manufactures, and markets proprietary biological testing technologies; the company currently has 250 employees. Hospira, a world leader in generic injectable pharmaceuticals, is Austinâ€™s largest biotechnology employer, with 1,350 employees. Running a close second, PPD, a contract research organization, employs 1,300 people.
By bringing together world-class innovators and entrepreneurs in a business-friendly environment, Austin is well on its way to becoming a leading hub for biotechnology research and development.
San Antonioâ€™s Thriving Biomedical Industry
The bioscience-healthcare industry is San Antonio, TXâ€™s number one economic generator, with an annual economic impact of more than $15 billion and 113,000 employees, according to a recent healthcare and bioscience economic impact study commissioned by the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. One out of every seven San Antonio employees works in this sector, with its cutting-edge research, world-renowned educational institutions, nationally recognized health care systems, and leading biotechnology companies.
In 2006, the economic impact of the cityâ€™s bioscience-healthcare research sector was over $604 million. Some of the largest areas of research were conducted by the Cancer Therapy & Research Center, the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research, and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonioâ€”one of the top 30 universities for research funding.
San Antonioâ€™s Texas Research Park has been named one of the five finalists for a proposed new U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) $450 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to conduct research on ways to protect the public and our agricultural system from animal diseases, including some that could be used for biological terror attacks. DHS is expected to select the site by late 2008.
The city has the worldâ€™s largest Phase I clinical trials program for new anti-cancer drugs, a $200 million Childrenâ€™s Cancer Research Institute, the worldâ€™s largest genomics computing cluster, the nationâ€™s only privately owned biosafety level four (BSL-4) maximum containment laboratory, and the Southwest Research Instituteâ€”one of the nationâ€™s largest non-profit, independent research and development organizations.
According to the San Antonio Medical Foundation, 44 medical-related institutions are based in the 900-acre South Texas Medical Center (STMC), with combined annual budgets, including research, totaling almost $3 billion. STMC has approximately 27,000 employees working in medical-related activities, and another 29,000 people in other jobs. The STMC also has 300 acres available for future expansion. Capital improvements over the next five years will total $640 million. The center is recognized worldwide for the impact of its research, patient diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, degree programs, continuing education, and state-of-the-art physical structures.
San Antonio is also home to the Texas Cord Blood Bank (TCBB), the stateâ€™s first public bank for stem cell-rich umbilical cord blood. TCBB expanded its collection of cord blood to seven hospitals statewide, with plans to announce additional sites in 2008.
In late 2006, pharmaceutical manufacturer DPT Laboratories Ltd. opened a 258,000-square-foot complex at San Antonioâ€™s newest technology park, Brooks City-Base. The $24 million expansion provides additional research space to the company and serves as a worldwide distribution site.
The Department of Defense (DoD) is transforming San Antonioâ€™s Fort Sam Houston into the U.S. hub for all military medical training and research. The city already boasts the new Center for the Intrepid, a world-class rehabilitation center at Brooke Army Medical Center, and in January 2008, military officials broke ground on the new $92 million Battlefield Health and Trauma Center for all combat casualty care and trauma research missions. That and other DoD initiatives will add thousands of new personnel to the local payroll and more than $2 billion in new construction and renovations over the next few years.
San Antonioâ€™s rich mixture of research, education, and private companies makes it one of the nationâ€™s leaders in this sector, as well as an appealing place for bioscience/healthcare professionals to pursue careers and for companies to do business.
Strongsville: The Road to Biotech Success
All roads in Strongsville, OH point to unprecedented growthâ€”expansions and relocations of businesses, a growing population, and a city government whose philosophy is to make the process as easy as possible.
â€śMy job is to help build this community to its maximum potential,â€ť says Mayor Thomas Perciak. â€śCollectively, we can get far more done than if I was on a one-man journey.â€ť
Strongsville has been on an ambitious development avenue the last few years. In 2001, Strongsville purchased 182 undeveloped acres from Figgie International. The city then received a $500,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Development for the development of the first 43 acres and to offset construction costs for a 1,500-foot extension of Foltz Parkway, which enables access to the land. The land is in the Strongsville Business Park, the largest of four industrial parks in the city. Combined, the industrial parks host 182 businesses (from smaller ones such as Roscoe Medical Inc. to large corporations such as ICI Paints), employing more than 9,000 people.
â€śIt was bought with development in mind,â€ť says Gene Magocky, economic development director for Strongsville. â€śFor us to keep attracting business, we need to plan ahead and ensure there is sufficient developable land for the future.â€ť
One industry that the city has been working hard to attract is biotechnology. The area offers many biotechnology amenities that can help these types of companies meet their maximum potential. One such asset is the Cleveland Clinicâ€™s Lerner Research Institute. Located 20 miles from Strongsville, the Lerner Research Instituteâ€™s Department of Biomedical Engineering is committed to investigation, innovation, and the translation of scientific discoveries into practical applications. By providing a forum in which engineers, scientists, and physicians can interact, the department plays a key role in advancing its mission to promote excellence in research, education, and patient care. The departmentâ€™s role in the larger scientific and medical communities is exemplified by the significant research funding the department receives from the National Institutes of Health and other agencies, and by its presence in peer reviewed literature. The Lerner Research Institute and the Cleveland Clinic as a whole are recognized as leaders in the biotechnology field across the world, having received numerous patents and awards for their work.
Case Western Reserve, located 24 miles from Strongsville, offers the Entrepreneurial Biotechnology (EB) degree, which is an 18-month masterâ€™s degree offered by the biology department in collaboration with the Case School of Medicine, an outstanding biomedical research center that currently ranks 12th among the nationâ€™s 122 medical schools in NIH research funding. The program provides studies in state-of-the-art biotechnology and scientific innovation, practical business instruction, and real-world experience in innovation and/or entrepreneurship to individuals with a bachelorâ€™s, masterâ€™s, or Ph.D. in a biology-related field. The result: cutting-edge scientists who are empowered to innovate, commercialize technology, and develop new businesses, either as entrepreneurs creating and growing new companies or â€śintrapreneursâ€ť working within established companies and organizations.
In 2002, Cleveland State University, located 20 miles from Strongsville, launched a program to help prepare students for careers in biotechnology. The Biotechnology Certificate Program is available to any CSU student, but especially those who are working toward or have a bachelorâ€™s in business, engineering, biology, or chemistry. Itâ€™s also available to college students enrolled in other universities and to college graduates.
Assets such as these, combined with Strongsvilleâ€™s pro-business attitude, make the city a prime destination for biotechnology companies. For more information on how the city of Strongsville can get your company on the road to biotechnology success, contact Gene Magocky, economic development director for the city, at 440-580-3117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Vineland: A Growing Biotech Hub
Just a few miles east of Philadelphia, Vineland, NJ is strategically located right between New York City and the Baltimore/Washington, DC markets. The opening of the new South Jersey Healthcare Regional Hospital in August 2004, supplemented by a new Rehabilitation Hospital, two new kidney dialysis centers, and new MRI service centers have attracted many new physicians to the city and have helped to bolster the cityâ€™s thriving biotechnology industry.
Vinelandâ€™s central South Jersey location and competitive financial incentive programs are responsible for a growing body of interest in the area.
One such financial incentive program is the Fund for Economic Development. This loan features everything that expanding industries and businesses need to support their growth, including long terms (a maximum term of 20 years), a fixed interest rate (5%), no prepayment penalties, a one-time loan servicing fee, and flexible payment schedules. First and second lien programs are also available. A minimum workforce of 25 full-time employees and an average annual salary of $30,000 plus benefits are required; loan requests of up to $15 million will be considered.
Because of this program, Vineland has attracted the attention of companies worldwide. Since its inception in 1990, the city has closed over 400 loans, totaling $110 million. The experience and confidence gained over the years from the programâ€™s successes have enabled the city to now offer a more aggressive loan program.
To be eligible for this program, proposed facilities are required to locate in the Vineland Urban Enterprise Zone. The city of Vinelandâ€™s Economic Development Web site, www.vinelandbusiness.com, details all the benefits of locating a business in the zone.
The program is funded by the New Jersey Urban Enterprise Zone Authority, which allocates the retail sales tax revenues collected in the Vineland Zone to a Zone Assistance Fund for economic development projects in the Vineland Urban Enterprise Zone. The Urban Enterprise Zone designation for Vineland ends in October 2018, but Vinelandâ€™s Fund for Economic Development will not disappear. It will become a permanent fixture for the city of Vineland to use for its diverse business community.