• WisBusiness

Monday, April 10, 2006

 7:36 AM 

Battelle Report Shows Moderate Growth for Wisconsin Biotech

A report due out this morning at Chicago's BIO 2006 mega-conference shows Wisconsin's biotech industry is growing slowly but steadily.

The study, prepared by the Battelle Memorial Institute, was good news for the Badger State delegation which is here in force to encourage companies to locate in Wisconsin. The report covered the period from 2001 to 2004.

Economic officials are keen to attract bioscience firms, in part because they pay an average annual salary $66,000, more than $26,000 than the average private sector annual wage, the study said.

According to the report, the state had moderate employment gains in medical devices; agriculture, feed stock and chemicals; research, testing and medical labs; and pharmaceuticals.

Wisconsin's weakest bioscience segment is drugs, where it has less than 1 percent of the country's employment. For the agricultural feedstock, chemicals and research; and research, testing and medical lab segments, the figure rises to less than 3 percent of total U.S. employment.

The brightest part of the study showed the Badger State has Wisconsin has between 3 and 5 percent of the national employment in medical devices - in large part because of Waukesha's GE Healthcare.

"Overall, this is yet another sign that biotech in Wisconsin is on the verge of taking off in Wisconsin," said Charlie Hoslet, head of the Office of Corporate Relations at UW-Madison.

"We are just coming out of the building stage in place like Madison, Milwaukee and Marshfield," he said.

"Things are bubbling, almost on the verge of exploding," he said. "In the not-too-distant future, when people think of biotech, they'll think of Wisconsin.

"The total biosciences industry in our state already produces 20,000 jobs and has an economic impact of roughly $5 billion," he said. "That's about the same impact as UW-Madison."

Hoslet said Badger State boosters often bemoan that the profile of life-science companies on the coasts is much larger than Wisconsin's.

"That's true, but they've been at it in some ways for a couple more decades than we have," he said. "University Research Park in Madison, for example, is only 20 years old. Its counterparts around Boston or in the Research Triangle are 20 to 30 years older.

"With the building of the Wisconsin Institutes of Discovery on the UW-Madison campus, our profile is only going to rise," he said.

Jan Alf of Forward Wisconsin, coordinator of the 1,600-square-foot Wisconsin Pavilion at BIO 2006, said the report pleased her, too.

"Moderate increases shows we are making strides," she said. "We aren't where we want to be yet, but we are moving in the right direction. We're here to encourage that trend."

See the full report at www.bio.org/local/battelle2006

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