Monday, September 28, 2009

The Life Sciences in North Carolina

When I left you last week, I asked for your opinions about the top 5 “leading life science states.” I asked because I was interested in this demographic’s opinion of strong life science states. Let me introduce you to our three case study states, and reveal a leading life science state from last week’s pop quiz . . .

North CarolinaThe Tar Heel State. And also a leading life science state!

MinnesotaThe North Star State. A state with an established medical device industry with some growth in other sectors. (And also my home state!)

The Sunflower State. Not for long—Kansas aims to be an up and coming life science leader.

Each of these states has implemented policies to facilitate the growth of their life science industry. Over the next few days, I’ll give you the 50,000 foot view of each state’s strategies.

This week: North Carolina—The Tar Heel State

North Carolina began its quest to become a leading state for technology in the 1950’s when state and local government leaders came together to form the Research Triangle Park (RTP). RTP is the largest research park in the United States whose tenants employed over 44,000 people in 2008. Many of those employees work at life sciences companies located in RTP.

By the 1980’s states leaders recognized the promise that the life science industry held, and decided that the state needed plan to promote growth in the future. In 1984, state leaders created the North Carolina created the North Carolina Biotechnology Center (NCBiotech). NCBiotech was given a mission to develop and expand the life science industry in North Carolina, and the center has been quite successful at fulfilling that mission. NCBiotech offers a slew of programs to promote industry development, including:

• Educational programs to retrain workers from low-tech industry to work in the high-tech life science industry
• Financing programs to provide the ever-critical money required to start a new business. To date, the state has invested over $200 million in life science companies!
• Consulting services and access to business knowledge

NCBiotech isn’t short on resources to complete its mission. In fact, NCBiotech received $15.6 million from the state legislature in 2007-08 to carry out its programs.

The investment has paid off. According to the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce:
“North Carolina has the third largest biotechnology industry in the nation with more than 520 bioscience companies, contract research organizations and device and life science-related companies. More than 56,000 workers, with skill sets ranging from bioprocess technicians to Ph.Ds are employed by this sector. Among the state’s largest biotech and pharmaceutical firms are GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Bayer, Biogen IDEC, Diosynth, Novo Nordisk, Wyeth and Baxter.”

Next Week: the 50,000 foot overview of the life sciences industry in Minnesota.

This is Part 5 of 8 in our Entrepreneurship series.
Part 1 - Science and Entrepreneurship: An Introduction
Part 2 - It's All About the Ideas (and Money)
Part 3 - Financing a New Business in the Life Sciences
Part 4 - Leading Life Science States
Part 5 - Life Sciences in North Carolina
Part 6 - Life Sciences in Minnesota
Part 7 - Life Sciences in Kansas
Part 8 - Life Science Industry Overall

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