Biotech Comes of Age

Innovative incentives and regional initiatives keep U.S. biotech at the forefront of global product sales and new biotech discoveries.

The nation’s bioscience industry continues to grow as states and regions vie to attract high-wage jobs, according to a study called “Technology, Talent and Capital: State Bioscience Initiatives 2008” by the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) and Battelle, an independent research and development organization.

“The bioscience sector is truly coming of age with new discoveries finding their way into new applications and products leading to new medical treatments, new sources of energy, and new industrial products made out of bio-based materials,” says Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of BIO and a member of the board of the Biotechnology Institute. “This has led to the growth of clusters of bioscience firms focused on specialized niches throughout the 50 states and Puerto Rico.”

In fact, according to Ernst & Young’s report “Biotechnology Beyond Borders 2008,” the revenues of the global publicly traded biotechnology industry rose by 8 percent, from $78.4 billion in 2006 to $84.8 billion in 2007—the first time the industry’s revenues have crossed the $80 billion threshold.

In September 2008, Global Industry Analysts, Inc., a market research group specializing in the medical industry, reported that biotechnology is recognized as a key growth industry by most industrialized countries and the U.S. biotech industry leads the global biotech market in terms of discovery and product sales.

“The biosciences are a dynamic economic driver with a sizable footprint in nearly every state,” explains Greenwood, “The bioscience industry is a knowledge-based sector dependent upon the skills of its workers. Bioscience workers are needed to conduct research, translate innovation into product development and improved health care techniques, and ultimately to manufacture biomedical and other bioscience-related products.”

Regions across the U.S. are looking to attract biotech companies by creating special incentives, and a favorable regulatory environment, and forming academic partnerships to train this specialized workforce. Here are some of the locations that are focusing on attracting biotech companies.

NW Iowa Biotech Consortium: One-Stop Shop for Bio Sites

Northwest Iowa communities have seen steady growth despite the national trends. Seven counties that call Northwest Iowa home have joined forces to build on each other’s growth, while providing a “one-stop” site selection process for corporate executives and site selection consultants. The Northwest Iowa Biotech Consortium has established itself as a valuable tool for companies looking to minimize the site selection process without eliminating quality options.

“We’ve been able to capitalize on each others’ successes. All seven counties of the Consortium have seen at least modest growth and avoided the negative economic news found elsewhere in the country,” says Chris Myres, head of the Northwest Iowa Biotech Consortium. “Our wide range of available buildings, shovel-ready sites, and development-minded communities have created a ‘one-stop shop’ environment that is attractive to companies looking to expand or relocate.”

The group is made up of many communities—some that may be overlooked by companies that would otherwise find these locations to be ideal. The group is able to provide information on many locations up and down the corridor without the potential business having to contact each and every community independently.

“Our combined strength makes the process easy for companies,” says Woody Grabenbauer of Northwest Iowa Community College. “Companies looking for a strong location in the middle of the country, close to major markets, a reliable and talented workforce, and abundant training and educational opportunities will find it all in our region.”

While “biotech” is a word that encompasses many meanings, the Northwest Iowa Biotech Consortium focuses on three facets of the industry: food processing, renewable energy, and pharmaceuticals.

“Our region has always been perfectly suited for food processing. We’re home to some of the largest processors in the world,” says Myres. During the past decade, however, this industry has evolved and its byproducts have created entirely new industries for the region. These synergies, such as companies like Shering-Plough and Mobren Biological, are using the byproducts of a several meat processors in the area to produce pharmaceutical ingredients.

As more and more food and biotech-related companies locate in the area, customer-supplier relationships are created and a culture which nurtures similar businesses is born.

“A simple example of this is Wells’ Dairy, Inc. and BoDeans Baking Company. Wells’ is all about the ice cream and BoDeans is all about the cone and wafer. Together, they are able to create efficiencies that would otherwise not be possible. They may negotiate with suppliers with one voice to make a larger purchase at a lower cost. They can work with each other with minimal transportation costs. They can perform research and development on various aspects of a new novelty treat and work like one company with one goal. This example is a simple one—synergies created by all the different byproducts created in the food processing industry are good for everybody from pharmaceuticals to genetics,” says Neal Adler, Director of the LeMars Business Initiative Corporation.

Northwest Iowa Biotech is made up of seven counties along the Highway 60 corridor. The counties include Lyon, Osceola, Sioux, O’Brien, Plymouth, Cherokee and Woodbury. Existing biotech companies that already call Northwest Iowa home include: BoDeans Baking Group, Dean Foods, Mobren, Gelita, Cargill, Jolly Time Pop Corn, Patrick Cudahy, SueBee Honey, Sara Lee, Trans Ova Genetics, John Morrell, Novartis, Wells’ Dairy, Inc., Terra Industries, Palmer Candy Co.

Lexington, KY: Fueling Biotech Growth

Biotechnology is one of the fastest growing industries in the U.S., and Lexington, KY is committed to fueling the growth of this industry in the Bluegrass State. With many such companies in Central Kentucky, the majority of those in Lexington, these research-intensive companies have a tremendous impact on the economy. Calling Central Kentucky home are Alltech, Coldstream Laboratories, Neogen Corporation and a host of others.

Commerce Lexington Inc., the Greater Lexington Chamber of Commerce, partners with the University of Kentucky (UK) and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development’s Department of Commercialization and Innovation (DCI) to grow, recruit and retain biotech companies. Under the leadership of Dr. Lee T. Todd, president of the University of Kentucky, 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 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), which is funded by the city of Lexington. The Bluegrass Business Development Partnership’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. For more information,  visit

Lexington is home to the only research and development business park in the state of Kentucky—UK’s Coldstream Research Campus. Coldstream, a 735-acre office park, was specifically designed for recruiting high-tech and biotech 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.

DCI aims to recruit, create, and retain high-tech and biotech jobs in the state of Kentucky. Through this initiative, DCI promotes clusters of innovation, which is apparent in Lexington. Through DCI, Kentucky created the first SBIR/STTR grant match program in the country. This innovative initiative has attracted the attention of many new biotech firms. For information, visit

The Lexington community offers a wide variety of advantages to companies—location being one of them. The Bluegrass Region is located at the center of a 31-state distribution area within a 500-mile radius of nearly three-fourths of the nation’s manufacturing employment, retail sales and population. By virtue of this geographic location and Kentucky’s integrated system of state maintained roads, interstates and parkways, Greater Lexington is within an overnight range of 66 percent of the U.S. market. Lexington is centrally located at the cross-roads of Interstate 75 and Interstate 64.

Lexington has an extremely strong quality of life. Lexington, KY ranks high in many studies referring to quality of life, including the second best city to relocate a family (Worldwide ERC & Primacy Relocation, 2008). Lexington excels in  affordable housing, public schools, standard of living, and access to education and healthcare. One of Lexington’s strongest attributes is its business climate. Forbes magazine ranks Lexington as the fifth-best place in the nation for business and careers—predicated on solid job growth, the education of its labor force, and low business costs.

Speaking of an educated labor force, Lexington has one of the best in the nation.  Census data in 2007 ranks the city the eleventh-most highly educated in the nation, based on the 38.4 percent of the population 25 years or older that has at least a Bachelor’s degree. Even more impressive, when education levels all the way down to high school graduates are considered, Lexington can claim the title of second- most educated workforce in the nation, trailing only Seattle, WA. This is due in part to being within 30 miles of 16 different institutions of higher education. Over 65,000 students are enrolled in these institutions, graduating close to 12,000 annually.

The workforce is very diverse with several key economic sectors, which include education, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and other services. Because of this diversity and educated workforce, Lexington was recently titled the thirteenth-best city for riding out a recession by BusinessWeek magazine.

For more information, contact  Gina Greathouse, senior VP of Economic Development, Commerce Lexington Inc., 859-225-5005,,,

Riverside County, CA: The Future Starts Here

Centrally located in the heart of Inland Southern California, Riverside County is a neighbor to San Bernardino County, Orange County, San Diego County and the State of Arizona. For more than half a century Riverside County, CA has been home to some of the world’s leading pioneers in the biotech and medical design manufacturing industry.

Leaders in the manufacturing of coronary and endovascular products, mechanical ventilators, respiratory care products, imaging, and diagnostic products to name a few, have all found being located in Riverside County advantageous to their company and most importantly, to their bottom line. Riverside County encompasses both Temecula, CA and Murrietta, CA.

Temecula hosts a cluster of prominent medical distribution and biotech/biomed companies. These businesses have been attracted to Temecula for the highly skilled labor force, top notch K-12 school system, close proximity to San Diego, Los Angeles, and Orange Counties, quality and affordable housing, and an exceptional quality of life. Temecula also is committed to providing excellent, expeditious, and clear guidance to companies located or planning to locate there throughout the development process, whether constructing a new facility or leasing.

Biotech companies have also continued to develop and grow within Temecula. Within the past three years, more than one million square feet of biotech space has been constructed within the city limits.

Within the past year, Abbott Laboratories has completed their 419,341-square-foot office, manufacturing, and laboratory building. Abbott is a leader in designing and developing cardiovascular medical products. Professional Hospital Supply (PHS), one of the nation’s oldest regional suppliers of medical and surgical supplies, is expanding in Temecula. PHS’ hospital supply system streamlines the hospital supply process and distributes medical products to hospitals and alternative care facilities. PHS is currently constructing a large office and warehouse expansion of more than 600,000 square feet. The 84 acre expansion site is set to gain occupancy permits this month.

Other biotech companies such as Millipore (biopharmaceutical manufacturing), Golden West Biologicals (distributor of essential raw materials), Isomedics (sterility industry leaders), Extrumed (custom thermoplastic), FFF Enterprises (biopharmaceuticals distributor), Generic Manufacturing Corp (surgical/medical instrument manufacturing), and SurgiCount Medical, Inc. (computer assisted safety-sponge system) have continued to grow and thrive in Temecula.

Loma Linda University recently selected Murrieta as the site for their new 50-acre Loma Linda University Medical Center, Murrieta campus. The first phase of this teaching hospital will open in January 2011. This hospital joins Rancho Springs Medical Center already in Murrieta, and the near-by Inland Valley Hospital, both operated by Southwest Healthcare System. As such, Murrieta is seeking out and welcoming biotech companies to the area that would benefit from a relationship with the local hospitals. Abbott Vascular already is located in the Murrieta/Temecula Valley, as well as several medical devices manufacturers.

Murrieta is close to several universities, such as California State University San Marcos, San Diego State University, University of California San Diego, University of California Riverside and the University of San Diego. Satellite offices for the University of Redlands, Azusa Pacific University and the University of Phoenix are located within the Murrieta Valley. The recently approved Murrieta Higher Education Center will break ground this year and will house several universities and Career & Technology Education (CTE) schools.

The Murrieta city council has adopted a new Fast Track Incentive program to help expedite the process of setting up a new business in Murrieta. For companies that meet the applicable criteria, they are able to approve certain projects at a much faster rate than most cities.