A new West Virginia University study released today (Feb. 13) says the states bioscience industry is witnessing a significant shift away from chemicals and agriculture to biopharmaceuticals and research. The report says the industry has a private sector economic impact, direct and indirect, of $7.2 billion and supports more than 21,000 jobs in the state.

The private sector economic impact does not include research initiatives at West Virginia University (WVU), Marshall University and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. Those institutions combined for another $200 million in economic impact.

According to the report, West Virginia has numerous efforts underway as well as new initiatives that will create an environment that is more attractive and welcoming to the bioscience sector.The study, entitledAn Economic Profile of the Bioscience Industry in West Virginia,is authored by Graduate Research Assistant Anthony Gregory and Tom Witt, director, Bureau of Business and Economic Research for the WVU College of Business and Economics. The report was commissioned by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

This report shows that West Virginia has made great strides in establishing a bioscience presence in the state,said Governor Joe Manchin.These are high-paying jobs that provide our citizens with a wonderful quality of life. Our goal is to keep this momentum going and to do so we must aggressively seek out private financial investment and funding for research.

Manchins comments refer to a recent Milken Institute study that shows West Virginia is lagging behind almost every other state in research funding (#48) and financial capital (#50). The Milken findings are also available in the WVU study.

What we are discussing today impacts the entire state and is at the top of our agenda when we discuss how the Universities can have a positive effect on West Virginia,said WVU President Mike Garrison.One thing that can keep us moving in the right direction, and promote even more entrepreneurial research on our campus, will be the Governors Bucks for Brains program.

The Governors newBucks for Jobsinitiative creates the West Virginia Research Trust Fund. The Fund will provide $50 million to support research programs and the recruitment of world-class scholars and scientists, along with associated research staff and infrastructure.

Other points of interest from the study:

  • West Virginias direct bioscience employment was 6,912 in 2006. The direct and indirect employment was 21,935 (full and part-time).
  • Bioscience average earnings in 2006 were $55,220 compared to statewide average earnings of $37,894, according to the study.
  • The top four bioscience counties by employment are: Monongalia (2,269), Kanawha (2,033), Cabell (1,135), and Tyler (501).
  • West Virginia has a higher concentration of jobs in the drugs and pharmaceutical sector and agriculture, feedstock and chemical sector than the nation as a whole.

Creating an attractive overall environment for the bioscience industry is vital to the states competitiveness in the sector and is motivation for building R&D capacity,the authors write. The study says infrastructure improvements are occurring in West Virginia through state grants, loans and bond funding that supports construction.

The study highlights specific initiatives in West Virginia that will help the bioscience industry grow:

  • WVU is doubling the size of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center and building two new research buildingsthe Blanchette Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute and the Biomedical Science Research Laboratory Facility, both projected to open in 2008.
  • At Marshall, the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Sciences Center opened in 2006 and the MU Biotechnology Development Center will provide support for the commercialization of scientific concepts.
  • Marshall and WVU are in the process of building research parks to support growing bioscience initiatives.

This economic profile provides a great opportunity to talk about how important it is to the state to support and promote development of a strong and vigorous bioscience and biomedical industry. It means jobs. It means improved infrastructure. It means stronger and better schools and universities. It means helping West Virginia compete in the global world of the 21st Century,said PhRMA President and CEO Billy Tauzin.

The study also notes that the Chemical Alliance Zone Biotechnology and Allied Sciences Incubator Center in South Charleston provide laboratory and office space and business services to bioscience companies.

The report was released in Morgantown at a luncheon highlighting West Virginias Bioscience efforts. Tauzin, Governor Joe Manchin, WVU President Mike Garrison and Marshall University President Stephen Kopp participated in the event. A full copy of the study is available online through WVU s College of Business and Economics atwww.bber.wvu.edu.