Senior officials at this year's annual BIO International Convention said that US state commitment to the biotech industry has continued to be supported by generous funding.
A number of high-profile officials took the opportunity at the event held in Boston, Massachusetts, to highlight that life sciences and bio-related projects can still benefit from public funds aid, despite the severe post-crisis cost-cutting. Representatives from 34 countries and 23 US states showcased their achievements at the conference.
“[Texas is] one of the leading states when it comes to investing into basic biomedical research. The potential to take that research and commercialise it serves as a big message [to attract] private investments,” said Rick Perry, governor of Texas. Between 2003 and 2012 nearly 30% of the $295m Texas Enterprise Fund was awarded to biotech projects and the state authorities estimate that the funding will bring some 11,400 new jobs in direct employment.
In Massachusetts, home to research centres of pharmaceutical giants such as Sanofi, Pfizer and Novartis, state support also remains strong. Deval Patrick, governor of Massachusetts, said: “Four years ago we launched a decade long programme that will allocate $1bn into the industry. So far, nearly $300m has been awarded, and that in turn leveraged $1 bn in private investments.”
North Carolina, which is the site of many start-ups as well as established industry players, such as Biogen Idec, also sees biotech as one of the main sectors behind the economic growth of the state. “Biotech has been a priority for us for more than a decade. Our state is tremendously committed to that industry,” said Bev Perdue, governor of North Carolina. The state authorities decided in November 2011 that $35m of state pension funds will be invested in life sciences start-up companies.
New Jersey, another state with high ambitions in attracting biotech investors, also aims at boosting investments in the sector. At the end of 2011, the state allocated $60m to 75 local biotech companies in a tax credit programme. The fund for small New Jersey-based companies was increased by 50%, compared with 2010. “Biotech is our bread and butter. We want to show the companies that they can grow here,” said Kim Guadagno, lieutenant governor of New Jersey.