Public Policy Institute on How to Boost Biotech in New York: More Jobs, Better Teamwork, Fewer Taxes

4/12/11Follow @arleneweintraub

In a scintillating report released today, the Public Policy Institute (PPI) of New York blasts the state’s leaders for failing to support the local biotechnology industry. New York ranks fifth in the nation in biotech employment, for example, and sixth in total capital expenditures made by the industry. And despite churning out more college graduates than any other state in the nation, New York’s biotech firms don’t provide enough high-paying jobs to get them excited about working in the industry, the PPI says.

The report’s authors declare that New York’s stance towards biotech is “severely anemic in its care for its people, support for entrepreneurship, and economic development strategies.” Furthermore, they say, because of rapidly growing competition from other states—not to mention China, India, and Brazil—”the biopharmaceutical ecosystem in New York is growing weaker, and Albany and major local governments must act before the equivalent of a climatic cataclysm strikes the state.”

Ouch.

But the PPI’s goal isn’t to bully New York’s leaders. Rather it’s to present a plan of action for turning New York from a perennial also-ran to a world capital of biotech. “Our report makes specific recommendations of how to get us out of 38th place in annual growth,” said Heather Briccetti, the PPI’s acting president, during a panel discussion at the annual meeting of the New York Biotechnology Association (NYBA), just a few days before the report’s release. “We’ve identified this sector as one that the state needs to make a strong commitment to.”

The PPI lays out some compelling and often disturbing numbers to support its thesis, which is reflected in the report’s title: “New York Must Step Up its Game.” For example, every life-science research job that biotech and pharma companies create in New York spawns an additional 3.46 support jobs—double the effect of a new Wall Street position, the PPI says. Every manufacturing hire translates to 9.36 additional jobs. So when 3,000 pharmaceutical manufacturing positions were eliminated from the state in 2010, a staggering 30,000 other New Yorkers lost their jobs.

In virtually every category it tracked, the PPI found New York to be an embarrassing laggard. New York employs 10,320 scientists, far fewer than California (41,200), Pennsylvania (15,920) and Massachusetts (15,300). The average wage in the biopharmaceutical sector … Next Page »

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