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MassBIO reflects on difficulties attracting biomanufacturing

By Nick Taylor , 16-Apr-2009

 

Massachusetts Biotechnology Council’s (MBC) 2015 strategic plan has outlined the difficulties the state faces in attracting biomanufacturing and called for increased focus on R&D.

 

The strategic plan differs significantly from the last report published in 2003, which called for significant investment in infrastructure, and reflects the economic climate and intense competition from other biotech clusters.

In particular the report highlights the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, US, Washington DC, US, Ireland and Canada as clusters that have equipped themselves to focus on manufacturing or clinical trials.

This specialisation has been facilitated by favourable tax laws, land incentives and “inclusive and welcoming business and policy environment”. In addition emerging markets such as China and India provide further competition, with companies attracted to the “lower costs of operations, access to high numbers of scientists, and favourable policy and economic environments”.

 

MBC appears to have acknowledged that the benefits offered by other clusters mean that Massachusetts will struggle to become a biomanufacturing powerhouse and should instead focus on its strengths.

 

The biotech hub in the state grew up around the R&D performed at Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the knowledge and talent at these establishments, which gives the state an advantage over its competitors.

 

Top tier of “integrated” clusters

 

Despite the acknowledgement that other clusters have advantages in attracting manufacturing MBC believes that Massachusetts’ strengths put it in the top tier of biotech hubs.

 

Looking at the “integrated” clusters, which are hubs that contain biotechs, world-renowned research universities and established venture capital communities, MBC identified three top tier regions: Massachusetts, San Diego and San Francisco.

 

Below these MBC identifies a second tier of clusters, which it considers integrated but have one or more weaknesses when compared to the elite, that includes Philadelphia, US, Switzerland and the UK.

 

However, despite MBC’s belief that Massachusetts is among the elite companies have still struggled in the current economic climate. This has resulted in almost 50 per cent of the state’s public biotechs operating with less than a year’s worth of money and 40 private firms last receiving funding in 2006.

 

The executive summary of the report can be found here .

 

For further news throughout the day, and live updates from BIO 2009, follow me on Twitter @Nick__Taylor .

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