Life Sciences Industry Focus: The Circle Of Life
The life sciences field has taken on much greater significance in recent years. Economic developers are responding with more options to make their communities more appealing.
By the Business Facilities Staff
From the March/April 2022 Issue
An aging population, combined with dramatic advances in technology and strong demand, is spurring dramatic growth in the life sciences industry. That, in turn, has encouraged dozens of companies in this booming field to seek new locations for everything from research labs to factories that develop and produce new products.
Needless to say, economic developers across the country are responding by offering a broad range of amenities to get companies to look at their sites and pick their locations. The key to success? Many say it is a combination of access to transportation, a well-educated workforce, vibrant communities and the space necessary to build.
(Photo: Adobe Stock / Sergey Nivens)
Life Science, Healthcare and Tech thrives in the Charlotte Region
In a time of rapid innovation, the Charlotte Region has emerged as a destination for technological talent of all kinds. From engineering and tech talent in a thriving manufacturing sector to software development and information security talent in a growing financial services industry, Charlotte is on the rise in more ways than one. More than 52,000 high-tech talent individuals live and work in North Carolina’s largest city, and another rapidly growing sector and its skilled workforce is fueling growth in the region as well.
The Charlotte Region is experiencing a greater need for tech talent in the health care industry — a demand that is only expected to rise as a new era of health care is underway in the area. Atrium Health, Wake Forest Baptist Health and Wake Forest School of Medicine have combined as one enterprise: Atrium Health. This combination will bring a four-year school of medicine to Charlotte, the largest city in the U.S. without a medical school. The Wake Forest School of Medicine – Charlotte is part of an ambitious strategy to advance health care innovation from Winston-
Atrium Health, Wake Forest School of Medicine – Charlotte (Photo: Charlotte Regional Business Alliance)
Salem to Charlotte with the vision of redefining the health care sector in the Charlotte Region and catalyzing economic development for years to come.
“This is an exciting time for Atrium Health, the Charlotte Region and beyond,” said Eugene Woods, president and CEO of Atrium Health. “In developing our new medical school, we are envisioning a new future for Charlotte and for the entire state. By attracting the brightest minds to North Carolina and having them learn side by side with our world-renowned clinicians and scientists, we will train the next generation of leaders not only in medicine but also in public health, research and innovation.”
The Charlotte Region has shown consistent growth in the health care industry during the last 10 years, such as new employment and a more diverse set of subsectors, including life sciences, biopharmaceuticals, medical device and equipment manufacturing, and R&D facilities. This growth has resulted in the health care and life sciences sector becoming the Charlotte Region’s largest employer, with more than 169,000 people — 82% of them women — working in a wide range of career opportunities for all educational and skill levels.
Since 2010, the workforce in the life science industries has grown 70% in the region, home to more than 60 health-tech companies. With these leading indicators and assets, the Charlotte Region is strategically positioned to be an up-and-coming innovative health care hub that includes Atrium Health’s new medical school campus.
Today, the health care sector registers a $26 billion impact in the Charlotte Region, home to national and international leaders in the field. The arrival of Charlotte’s first four-year medical school will only accelerate health care innovation and offerings in the region, which is already feeling the impact of the new medical school that will seat its first class in 2024. The Atrium Health Foundation awarded a $25 million gift from the Howard R. Levine Foundation to name the signature academic building the Howard R. Levine Center for Education, located in the heart of a new Innovation District coming to Midtown Charlotte.
“Atrium Health is proud of its role in positioning the Charlotte Region as an emerging global leader by creating an innovation-led health care corridor, and technology will play a critical role in that effort,” Woods said. “We witnessed firsthand the success of Wake Forest’s Innovation Quarter in Winston-Salem, which strengthened the regional workforce and transformed the whole community. So, we are going to expand upon these rich, dynamic spaces by designing a complementary Innovation District in Charlotte and link the two to create an innovation corridor spanning across the region. This will not only elevate the city but also make it the destination center for innovation in the country.”
Education, economic mobility and health care are at the top of the list in terms of attracting individuals to an area. All three components, Woods notes, are critical to the Charlotte Region’s long-term success, and he has challenged Atrium Health to build a health care ecosystem that takes the region to a completely new level with technology as a driving force in that effort.
Charlotte’s health care and technology sectors are poised to grow, making now the perfect time to consider the region for your next expansion or relocation. To learn how Charlotte’s growing population, young and talented workforce, and innovative spirit fuel a thriving tech sector, visit AltogetherBetterCLT.com.
Pasco County, FL: Moffitt Cancer Center to Create 775-Acre Campus
Healthcare and Life Sciences are some of Florida’s fastest growing advanced industries and Pasco County is no exception to this growth. With access to a robust life sciences talent pipeline that sees 20,000 awards achieved every year within the region, announcements of expansions from established health research giants like Moffitt Cancer Research Center and fast-growing start-ups like Bravado Pharmaceuticals gives testimony to the opportunities Pasco County offers companies looking to locate in Tampa Bay’s life sciences corridor.
As one of the fastest-growing areas in the Tampa Bay region, Pasco County features a unique blend of undeveloped, open spaces near modern, vibrant communities with ready access to major interstate highways, CSX Rail Line, Tampa International Airport, and Port Tampa Bay.
Executives review expansion plans in Pasco County. (Photo: Pasco EDC)
Moffitt officials recently announced their plans for a 775-acre expansion campus in Pasco County. The expanded clinical and research facilities will accommodate growth in the Tampa Bay region of complementary third-party research, product manufacturing, clinical providers, and conferencing facilities. The campus will be a magnet for biotech and life sciences enterprises and innovation and will bring together new partners and collaborators. The entire campus is estimated to support more than 14,500 additional jobs in the area.
“There is no question that Moffitt is a leader in research and delivery of life saving cancer care. This campus will serve as catalyst for the Life Sciences industry for not only the region, but the state of Florida,” said Bill Cronin, president/CEO, Pasco EDC. “The location on the Suncoast Parkway will serve as an anchor to the already robust corridor of Life Sciences cluster which has been rapidly developing during the last few years.”
The multi-year, multi-phase project will include over 1.4 million square feet of research lab/office, light industrial/manufacturing, general office, and clinical building space within the 775-acre site near the intersection of the Suncoast Parkway and Ridge Road.
“We are truly thankful for the funding support from the Pasco County commissioners,” said Patrick Hwu, MD, president and CEO, Moffitt Cancer Center. “Moffitt’s world-class expansion campus in Pasco County will allow us to treat more patients, conduct more groundbreaking research and develop innovative partnerships all in support of our mission to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. We look forward to growing this partnership with Pasco County for years to come.”
In the project’s first phase, Moffitt will construct a minimum of 128,000 square feet for corporate business park uses for which Pasco County Board of Commissioners have agreed to provide approximately $25 million in financial assistance.
Puerto Rico: A Life Sciences Powerhouse
Nestled in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico continues to build on its 60-year legacy as a pharmaceutical, and medical device powerhouse. Once again, the island takes center stage as a world-class bioscience destination.
The Covid-19 pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in the United States’ pharma supply chain and the country’s reliance on life-critical medicines manufactured in China and other countries. Puerto Rico’s substantial pharma and medical device production expertise makes us the logical choice to strengthen the U.S. medical supply chain. Made in Puerto Rico is Made in the USA, under FDA regulations and leveraging decades of professional excellence.
Molecular Sciences & Research Center (Photo: Invest Puerto Rico)
The island provides a competitive cost structure, favorable business environment, attractive incentives, pharma logistics, well-established infrastructure, and a highly skilled, bilingual workforce, among other key elements, all part of the island’s winning formula. Puerto Rico also boasts three international airports and several seaports that offer companies diverse options for exporting and importing the products necessary to grow and build their businesses.
The island’s current bioscience landscape includes 15 of the world’s 20 top-grossing pharmaceutical companies, five of the world’s top 10 selling drugs were manufactured on the island (2018), and production of eight of the 15 top-selling biopharmaceutical products. In 2019, Puerto Rico’s pharmaceutical exports totaled more than $44 billion, with $30.89 billion of that figure being exported to the contiguous U.S. market while $13.2 billion went to other countries. All of this was made possible through the support of a talented workforce of 90,000 industry and support professionals.
Puerto Rico is welcoming a myriad of game-changing companies and entrepreneurs to this vital sector. They recognize the island’s substantial assets are the basis for scaling rapid growth for their businesses. Companies such as CytoImmune Therapeutics and OcyonBio, both of whom are pioneering gene and cell therapy and biologics to treat cancers and other diseases, call Puerto Rico home. On their heels is Aurobindo Pharma, with a focus on generics and biosimilars, and together they validate the pharma sector’s strength and Puerto Rico’s leadership position. These three companies alone represent an investment of approximately $353 million and 1,000 jobs.
“The answer as to why Puerto Rico is simple. The island has a legacy of experience that is necessary to strengthen the U.S.’s pharma supply chain while driving R&D, entrepreneurship, and unprecedented innovation within the space. Our history of bioscience excellence, a highly educated & bilingual talent pool, an engaged business ecosystem, plus an infrastructure backed by billions in federal investment, all serve to cement Puerto Rico’s position as enviable global hub,” said Rodrick Miller, CEO of Invest PuertoRico.
Lehigh Valley, PA: Olympus Takes A Shot
For decades, Olympus was known worldwide for its great cameras. Today, Olympus, which has its American headquarters in Lehigh Valley, PA, is a med-tech company, whose tiny scopes detect early-stage cancers and save lives. It doesn’t make cameras anymore.
It’s about vision.
About 15 years ago, Olympus moved to the Lehigh Valley, not far from where Bethlehem Steel workers once forged the steel that built 20th century skyscrapers and bridges. The Lehigh Valley does not make much steel anymore. It has, however, a 21st century economy where life sciences leaders produce COVID tests, orthopedic implants, and other innovative technologies.
OraSure Technologies (Photo: Lehigh Valley EDC)
The story of Olympus is the story of the Lehigh Valley.
“The Lehigh Valley reimagined itself because of its ability to evolve. The workforce, steeped in a manufacturing tradition, retooled to meet the evolving needs of the life sciences sector, which is a natural fit given the region’s location near major biotech hubs,” said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC).
The Lehigh Valley sits amid a 400-mile life sciences supercluster stretching from Boston to Washington, D.C. It borders New Jersey, which has the country’s largest concentration of biophysicists, and is an hour from Philadelphia, known for its concentration of cell and gene therapy.
Ranked among the nation’s top 50 metro regions in terms of manufacturing GDP, the Lehigh Valley has built a life sciences niche that is particularly strong among medical device makers. Thousands of workers fuel operations to make catheters, infusion pumps, diagnostics, and other innovations. The Lehigh Valley’s employment concentration for surgical instrument production is nearly five times as large as a typical U.S. region.
In addition to Olympus, B. Braun USA came to the Lehigh Valley decades ago after it bought a local plastics manufacturer and then established its headquarters in the Lehigh Valley. In recent years, it brought in R&D operations as part of a company-wide effort to be more agile, and the company is expanding its manufacturing facilities there today to meet the global demand for its products.
OraSure Technologies, which introduced the world’s first in-home, oral HIV test and has federal contracts to make COVID tests, grew from a Lehigh Valley business incubator run by the world-renowned Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania and now operates from reclaimed Bethlehem Steel land.
Today, the Lehigh Valley is home to more than 170 labs, diagnostic and medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and medical wholesalers. Life sciences leaders including ThermoFisher, Sharp, McKesson, and Piramal have significant footprints in the Lehigh Valley, and that footprint is growing. Since 2017, the Lehigh Valley has added 2 million square feet of space for companies in the sector, and employment has grown at an annual rate of 3% during the last five years.
Life sciences companies complement the Lehigh Valley’s strong health care sector which, at 67,000 jobs, is the metro region’s largest employer. Companies draw talent from the region’s 11 colleges and universities, including Lehigh University, ranked among the nation’s top schools, and nearby research schools including Princeton University and University of Pennsylvania. There’s a labor pool of 1.3 million within an hour’s commute.
Montgomery County, MD: The Magnet for Life Sciences Success
Anchoring the 4th largest biotech hub in the U.S., Montgomery County’s life sciences sector is growing its footprint and investments in the future. Here are eight reasons to make Montgomery County, MD your choice to expand and grow your business:
#1: Partnerships to fast track and commercialize products. For growing immunology companies, finding strong partnerships is critical. Montgomery County emerges as the perfect location to find collaborations along the entire life sciences pipeline, with companies ready to do business including Lonza, Catalent, MaxCyte, Charles River Labs and Saint Gobain.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) spans a 300-acre campus in Bethesda, MD. (Photo: Montgomery County)
#2: Access to top talent. Montgomery County has the exceptional talent to shape the workforce needed to launch new products and ideas. More than 31% of adults have earned an advanced degree. Montgomery County is the most populous in the state, which ranks first for PhD scientists and has one of the highest concentrations of STEM jobs.
#3: Co-locate with NIH and FDA. The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the world’s largest researcher of human health, along with its National Cancer Institute (NCI) are located in Montgomery County. Find unprecedented proximity to NIH’s great minds and real-time access to developments. NIH is one of the 18 federal agency headquarters in the county, along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
#4: Tax Credits & Incentives—and a ‘first.’ Montgomery County is first in the country with a local biotechnology investment tax credit. In addition, there are dozens of tax credits and incentives available, locally and from the state. Explore the Biotechnology Investor Incentive Program, the SBIR/STTR match programs, the New Jobs Tax Credit and many more to fuel success.
#5: A magnet for funding and VC investment. 2021 was a record-breaking year for investment in in Montgomery County life sciences companies. More than $5.7 billion was invested across dozens of companies through IPO, private investment and venture capital funding. Companies are securing investment to maximize growth.
#6: Global companies land here. Companies from around the world find a U.S. home in Montgomery County including Aurinia (Canada); Autolus, AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline (U.K.); Qiagen (Germany); Nobelpharma (Japan); Genetron and Tasly Pharmaceuticals (China); GMED (France); and Macrogen (South Korea).
Jeff Galvin, CEO and Founder of American Gene Technologies™ (AGT) with a colleague in the AGT lab. (Photo: Montgomery County)
#7: The most federal labs of any state. With 40 federal labs in the county and 63 in the state, companies can find unparalleled tech transfer opportunities. These assets support companies looking to partner with federal labs for research & development and technological breakthroughs.
#8: Wet lab expansion and affordability. With high demand, Montgomery County is expanding available wet lab space, with more than 1.5M square feet of new lab space under construction and many new projects in the planning stages support for life sciences expansion is a high priority. The county recently passed an amendment to streamline the approval process for biohealth facilities and create a Biohealth Priority Campus.
To learn more about growing in Montgomery County, MD, reach out to [email protected].
North Alabama: Tech talent fueling biotech workforce growth
The pace at which technology changes and grows has multiplied throughout the years. More than 30 years ago, researchers completed the Human Genome Project, a collaborative research effort to sequence the entire human genome and identify human genes. The international project created the first human reference genome and took 13 years to complete. Today, a human genome can be sequenced in a matter of hours.
In today’s world, technological advances driven by computational biology and machine learning, as well as the development of new equipment and processes, continue to speed up life science discovery. HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville, AL, embraces this shift and has built an ecosystem for biotechnology growth and development. The vision of two men, Jim Hudson and the late Lonnie McMillian, HudsonAlpha brings entrepreneurs, scientists, and educators together in one location to increase collaboration, speeding up the timeline to get discoveries to market.
Biotech workforce needs go well beyond the lab. As shown here, bioinformatics plays a huge role in connecting biology and computer science through data processing and analysis. (Photo: HudsonAlpha)
While known for space shuttles and rockets, Huntsville is also home to a thriving biotechnology community. The same drive and ingenuity that accomplished great feats for NASA and the U.S. Army are now being applied using biotechnology to change the way we approach human health and disease as well as agricultural challenges.
“HudsonAlpha and Huntsville really give our company a competitive advantage,” said Peggy Sammon, CEO and co-founder of GeneCapture, a resident associate company on the HudsonAlpha campus. “As we continue to scale up the skilled workforce at our fingertips has proved to be invaluable. In addition, the bioscience community both here at HudsonAlpha and in the state have continued to support our growth and collaboration.”
The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology is a Huntsville-based nonprofit genetics and genomics institute and life sciences business ecosystem dedicated to developing and applying scientific advances to health, agriculture, education and commercialization. Located in Huntsville’s Cummings Research Park, the HudsonAlpha campus covers 152 acres, and currently includes 500,000 square feet of laboratory and office space currently housing researchers and more than 48 associate companies. By mid-2023, two new facilities will be open and operational, expanding the campus footprint to more than 620,000 square feet. The campus contains greenfield sites available for development to suit the needs of any life sciences business.
HudsonAlpha’s location in Huntsville gives companies access to a highly includes more than 600,000 people with 39 percent holding a college degree and 15 percent with graduate or professional degrees. HudsonAlpha is able to draw from not only the skilled biotech workforce but also a workforce full of software developers, engineers and professionals with technical experience.
“I came to HudsonAlpha after 10 years as an IT professional in the Huntsville defense industry,” said Scott Ross, director of information technology at HudsonAlpha. “The skills I developed in the defense industry have helped advance our work in biotechnology across systems, software development, big data, and cybersecurity. As a technology leader and native of Huntsville, the talented technical workforce and diverse industries of this city have been critical to our recruiting and talent development strategies”
For more information about locating your project or business on the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology campus, please visit hudsonalpha.org/innovate.
River Ridge: Building Life Sciences, Biopharma Cluster In Southern Indiana
Global leaders in life sciences, pharmaceuticals and healthcare are increasingly looking to southern Indiana’s River Ridge Commerce Center to support growing operations and their need to quickly and efficiently reach customers nationwide.
During the past few years, there has been rising interest among firms locating or expanding manufacturing, processing, distribution, and support facilities in River Ridge. To date, a half dozen healthcare, life sciences and pharmaceutical companies have opted to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in their operations here—largely as a result of the central location, logistical advantages, strong business climate, and the skilled and ready workforce available at River Ridge. And more are on their way.
An aerial view of a distribution center in the River Ridge area. (Photo: River Ridge Development Authority)
“It’s been a very telling trend,” said Jerry Acy, executive director of the River Ridge Development Authority. “The investments we’ve made to ready development sites, build roads, create sustainable water infrastructure and add important amenities for businesses have paid off tremendously. Our location and the ease of doing business here are very appealing to many types of companies—especially firms like health care and pharmacy-services providers, and life sciences companies.”
The River Ridge Commerce Center is a 6,000-acre business and office park. Since 1998, the RRDA has invested more than $150 million to redevelop about 40% of the center. The investments in modern roads, utilities and other infrastructure have spurred private development activity and created thousands of jobs in southern Indiana.
The center, which sits at the crossroads of four major interstates (I-64, I-65, I-71 and I-265), has become one of the largest magnets for economic growth and job creation in southern Indiana and the greater Louisville, KY, metro area. Its central location allows firms to reach more than two-thirds of the U.S. population within a day’s drive. The center is also conveniently located near UPS’s Worldport hub, the center point of the company’ air network providing next-day air service to customers worldwide.
River Ridge currently serves as home to more than 60 companies.
Emergence Of Biopharma, Life Sciences
River Ridge has for more than a decade attracted many local, national and international employers from major industries including automotive, aerospace, food and beverage, and logistics. The rapidly growing pharmaceutical, life-sciences and healthcare cluster is a more recent trend.
PharmaCord, a firm that connects pharmaceutical companies with manufacturers, doctors and payers, announced a $56 million expansion in June 2020. PharmaCord constructed a new headquarters that will employ customer service representatives, benefits specialists, case managers and specialty nurses.
The company credits River Ridge’s leadership and the state’s attractive business climate as key reasons to locate in southern Indiana. Meanwhile, HempRise has invested more than $70 million to establish a purpose-built industrial hemp processing and innovation facility, including specialized laboratories. The new facility opened in 2021.
Central Location Is Appealing
Medline, a manufacturer and distributor of products for healthcare companies, opened a $70 million, 1.1 million-square-foot facility. The Commerce Center also is home to Optum, a national provider of pharmaceutical distribution services, and J. Knipper & Co., a distributor of samples and medications for the healthcare industry that has continued to expand operations at River Ridge since it opened in 2015.
Biotech workforce needs go well beyond the lab. As shown here, bioinformatics plays a huge role in connecting biology and computer science through data processing and analysis.