Growing the Future: State Efforts to Advance the Life Sciences

February 12, 2018
Life-sciences companies grow best in locations that can combine qualities like a good business environment, skilled workers, strong research universities, and available capital. Strengthening these and related factors can give states a stronger competitive advantage.

Life-sciences companies—especially pharmaceutical, biotech, and medical-device companies—have been steadily increasing their U.S. economic output and employment in high-skilled, high-wage jobs. But not all states are equally well positioned to grow and attract these companies. That’s because while life-sciences companies have significant flexibility to conduct their research, clinical trials, and production anywhere in the world, they grow best in locations that can combine qualities like a good business environment, skilled workers, strong research universities, and available capital. Strengthening these and related factors can give states a stronger competitive advantage.

At least 27 states have specific life-sciences-focused economic development efforts. This report examines how five—Colorado, Indiana, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Washington—are working to create environments that support the growth of their life-sciences sectors.

Among the report’s findings:

  • In 2016, life science companies in the United States employed 1.2 million workers.
  • In 43 states, pharmaceutical wages are at least 50 percent greater than each state’s average private wage.
  • Life-science industries account for between 25 and 30 percent of all high-tech start-ups in each of the five states examined.
  • From 2008 to 2012, U.S. patent awards rose 63.3 percent for pharmaceuticals and medicines, and 161.3 percent for medical equipment, compared with 56.2 percent for patents from all industries.
Growing the Future: State Efforts to Advance the Life Sciences