Driving Innovation – PA’s Life Sciences Industry

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Pennsylvania has long been a leader in technology-based economic development and innovation. The state’s prominent life sciences industry (i.e., biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and diagnostics sectors) relies heavily on technology and innovation to discover and develop revolutionary products and new medications.

Pennsylvania’s life science ecosystem includes a concentration of dynamic companies creating new products and processes, nearly 250 institutions of higher education working on research and talent development, and a network of highly-functioning incubators and accelerators throughout Pennsylvania that provide much-needed technical support that our businesses need to develop and commercialize new technologies. Add to that the financial resources and investments from the state, industry partners, venture capital firms, and economic development organizations at the regional and local levels, and you have a robust infrastructure that has helped countless life sciences companies to succeed.

Take, for example, the Keystone Innovation Zone (KIZ) program. In 2004, DCED launched the KIZ program as a means to drive innovation and support entrepreneurship in and around Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities. Through this program, qualified companies are eligible to receive up to $100,000 per year in saleable tax credits, which can be used to support their growth and expansion in the commonwealth. These 29 Keystone Innovation Zones (KIZs) have played a valuable role in the success of hundreds of young companies that continue to boost Pennsylvania’s economy, and are so successful that they’ve been used as a blueprint for other similar programs around the country.

Our stats provide ample evidence of the growth and stability of our life science industry. Pennsylvania consistently ranks in the top five for bioscience R&D and innovation, as well as in academic R&D, NIH research funding, venture capital investments, and life sciences-related patents. We are the 4th in the country for pharmaceuticals and in the top 10 states for biotech growth potential. Pennsylvania is also home to two of the top six NIH-funded research institutions, and last year we received the fourth-largest amount of NIH funding in the United States. And no other state can boast the strategic partners that Pennsylvania has to offer. Pennsylvania’s three Life Sciences Greenhouses (LSGs) fill a critical gap in seed-stage funding for emerging companies. After 13 years, the three LSGs continue to be effective in stimulating economic growth and job creation across Pennsylvania while their member companies continue to address some of the most significant unmet medical needs across our nation and abroad.

We’re always looking for new partnerships, companies, and industries to enhance our ecosystem. That is why you will find Pennsylvania present at major tradeshows and industry conferences across the country and beyond. It’s not enough to simply talk about our life sciences industries; we know that our engagement should be deeper and that we must be directly connected to our private-sector and industry partners. Next month, I will join DCED Secretary Dennis Davin and several of our colleagues at the BIO International Convention in San Francisco from June 6–9. We will be located — along with various strategic partners including Pennsylvania BIO and the University City Science Center — in the Pennsylvania Pavilion (Booth #1705) at the Moscone Center.

We have a lot of exciting meetings scheduled for our time at the BIO International Convention, and are looking forward to sharing with others the advantages Pennsylvania offers. If you find yourself at the convention, or simply want to learn more about what Pennsylvania has to offer, I encourage you to visit us at the show, check out our life sciences industry page, and sign up for our newsletter. You can also join the conversation about PA’s life sciences on social media using #BIOinPA, #BIO2016, and #PAPavilion. Don’t forget to follow us at @newPAnews for the latest updates on Pennsylvania’s economic development happenings. Whether online or in-person, we look forward to connecting with you soon.

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