Ohio’s bioscience industry grew as the state’s overall employment shrank, according to a study from Battelle and the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
The report, which is issued every other year by the pair, found that from the outset of the recession in 2007 through 2012, bioscience employment in Ohio rose 2.2 percent, to more than 48,000 workers. During that period, overall employment in Ohio fell by 5.2 percent.
The numbers show the sector’s “importance as an economic driver for our nation,” Mitch Horowitz, vice president at Battelle, said in a statement. “While bioscience employment has picked up in 2011 and 2012, its promising growth cannot be taken for granted.”
In 2012, Columbus ranked 24th and was the only Ohio city among the top 25 metro areas in employment in research, testing and medical laboratories, with 4,186 employees, according to the report.
“Columbus also shows up as one of the most highly concentrated bioscience-related distribution regions,” sporting a concentration that is nearly twice the national average, said Ryan Helwig, a senior economist with Battelle’s technology-partnership practice. “A lot of that is owing to having the headquarters of Cardinal Health.”
The report also notes that salaries for bioscience jobs are higher than for 80 percent of all private-sector jobs.
To keep the bioscience sector growing, Ohio’s research universities spent $1.3 billion in related research and development in 2012.
Bioscience has been “an interesting growth market the last few years,” said Tom Walker, CEO of the technology-business incubator TechColumbus.
“From the early-stage ‘bio-company’ standpoint, the last few years have seen more fluid capital markets supporting this industry,” Walker said. “There have been a number of (initial public stock offerings) this year alone, and Ohio has shared in that success. That’s a driver in job growth."
The report broke down performance in five industry subsectors.
Ohio was in the top 10 among states in: bioscience industry establishments; money spent on bioscience research and development; National Institutes of Health funding; and number of patents in bioscience and related fields.
Among the 3,912 bioscience patents issued since 2009 to Ohio inventors, key technology focus areas include surgical and medical instruments, biochemistry and drugs and pharmaceuticals.
Much of the bioscience employment in Ohio is concentrated in two areas: agricultural feedstock and chemicals, and bioscience-related distribution. They have employment concentrations that are 8 percent and 5 percent greater than the national average, respectively.
“I think the message here is generally positive for Ohio,” Helwig said. “It’s a trend toward an emerging bioscience industry in the state. ...
“But there’s still a ways to go to getting that specialized concentration that the leading states like California and Massachusetts have.”
In 2012, U.S. bioscience firms directly employed 1.62 million people, a figure that includes nearly 111,000 jobs created since 2001.
By Tim Feran - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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