Biotech job growth begins with the states By Henry Fawell Winter 2010 - Volume 1 - Issue 4 I read with

interest Mark Rogers’ column, “Biotechnology in 2020.” He is right that the United States faces real and growing competition abroad for biotechnology jobs and innovation. The question is how the U.S. government – at both the state and federal levels – and industry will respond. Having worked in a governor’s office, on Capitol Hill, and with leading biotechnology experts at Womble Carlyle, I believe policy makers are taking encouraging steps to create lasting biotech jobs here at home. Frankly, they have no choice. While the Obama Administration continues to develop its plan -- such as the new $100 billion innovation agenda and the creation of the Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship – the real work to save and grow biotech jobs must be done at the state level. Case in point: Two recent governors – Jim Hunt (D-North Carolina), and Bob Ehrlich (R-Maryland) both had unapologetically pro-biotech agendas while in office. The fact that I work with both at Womble Carlyle has only enhanced my appreciation for the example they set for other governors. Back in 1981, Governor Hunt saw the industry’s economic potential. That year he helped establish the first-of-its-kind North Carolina Biotechnology Center, which has spent the past 30 years investing in community college curricula, K-12 science programs, technology transfer, and other economic development initiatives. The result? Tens of thousands of good-paying jobs in North Carolina and a technology center that has served as a model for the world. Former Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich – for whom I served as press secretary – enacted the nation’s first tax credit for investors in early-stage biotech companies headquartered in Maryland, thereby enabling local companies to recruit and retain world-class researchers. He also pledged an unprecedented $56 million to build the University of Maryland’s cutting-edge bioscience research building and expanded the $50 million Center for Advanced Research in Biotechnology, both of which are now proving grounds for the next generation of U.S. bioscience researchers. Not surprisingly, Maryland and North Carolina consistently rank among the most biotech-friendly states in the nation, but they are not alone. Utah recently launched the BioInnovation Gateway facility designed to link early stage life sciences companies with students who will be the next generation of bio-entrepreneurs. Illinois encourages job growth by reimbursing up to half the costs of training graduate students to become biotech and bioscience employees. Kansas is providing management counsel and recruitment, clinical collaborations, and business development to early stage bioscience companies. The state’s Technology Enterprise Corporation’s

Pipeline identifies talented local entrepreneurs-in-waiting and gets them the resources, mentors, and training they need to pursue careers in Kansas. South Dakota and Mississippi have launched websites promoting job openings and resumes of those interested in pursuing technology careers in state. In the first year, South Dakota helped more than 200 natives return home to technology careers and identified 1,400 more individuals with an interest in returning to South Dakota. Universities from Georgia to Washington are cutting the ribbons on new science facilities and expanding their curricula to include everything from clinical trials design to regulatory affairs. Still more are creating hybrid programs that combine the hands-on, in-lab experience of a biotechnology master’s degree with that of an MBA. States are targeting K-12 education by creating schools that specialize in science, technology, and math. In Maryland, the Harford County public school system is working with business and military leaders to connect talented students with the world-class researchers at nearby Aberdeen Proving Ground. States creating programs to broaden the knowledge of high school science teachers. Universities, biomedical research collaboratives and biotech companies are playing their part to ensure the U.S. maintains its competitive edge. AMDeC in New York, for instance, is developing programs in bioinformatics and other specialties that are critical to maintaining a leading biotech industry. Additionally, biotech companies are also supporting STEM programs and partnering with schools to show students the unlimited potential that awaits them in a biotechnology career here in the United States. Yes, there is a lot happening at both the state and federal levels to promote biotechnology jobs and innovation, but the job is far from over. Let’s hope that federal and state policy makers weigh the legitimate concerns articulated by Mr. Rogers. Only with a sober-eyed appreciation for our competition can we build on our successes to date and maintain our dominance in the future. Henry Fawell is a communications consultant in Baltimore for Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC. He previously served as press secretary to Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. in Maryland. He is the author of Womble Carlyle’s Wag the Dog, a blog about strategic and crisis communications.

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