• WisBusiness

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

 7:06 PM 

Battelle notes gains in Wisconsin bio-industry

By Tom Still

SAN DIEGO -- Wisconsin's bioscience employment is growing faster than the U.S. average in three of four major categories, according to a report released Wednesday by BIO and Battelle, the world's largest non-profit independent research and development organization.

Wisconsin's job growth in agricultural feedstocks and chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, and research, testing and medical laboratories all exceeded the U.S. average between 2001 and 2006, the Battelle study concluded. Only in medical devices and equipment did Wisconsin fail to grow at the U.S. average, but the state still ranked as a "specialized" state in that sector.

The Madison area in southern Wisconsin was the only one of 361 metropolitan areas charted by Battelle to be classified as "specialized" in all four sectors.

"You've got a lot of expertise in animal, plant and human life sciences, and you've got a growing foundation for translating that into commercial uses," said Walter Plosilla, senior adviser to Battelle's Technology Partnership Practice. "It's showing up in the figures."

Wisconsin charted five-year employment increases of 24.8 percent in the agricultural feedstock and chemicals sector, 11 percent in drugs and pharmaceuticals, and 20 percent in research, testing and medical laboratories. That compared to national figures of -6.1 percent, 4 percent and 17.8 percent, respectively. In medical devices, Wisconsin lost 3.7 percent of its employment but the nation as a whole fell by nearly 1 percent.

Average Wisconsin salaries in the four sectors studied by Battelle ranged from $53,715 in the ag tech sector to $75,012 in the pharma sector, which compared to a statewide private sector average of $36,462.

Among the 50 states, Wisconsin ranked 13th in academic research and development spending, 15th in bioscience R&D, 16th in National Institutes of Health funding, 11th in higher education degrees in bioscience fields, 19th in bioscience employment, 19th in bioscience venture capital investments and 18th in bioscience-related patents.

Plosilla noted that while Madison is "an oasis" nationally, Wisconsin is showing progress statewide in biosciences, particularly in the ag-tech and research sectors.

Gov. Jim Doyle, who is attending BIO 2008 in San Diego, welcomed the report but added Wisconsin must continue to improve its biotechnology economy.

"We have a long way to go. We really have to stay the course," Doyle said.

For more information, visit http://www.bio.org/local/battelle2008

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