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With new funding for public-private institute, Indiana aims to become leader in life sciences

by Laura Tomaka ~ June/July 2017 ~ Stateline Midwest »
With a $20 million appropriation in the state’s new biennial budget, Indiana lawmakers once again affirmed their belief in a public-private partnership designed to further develop one of the state’s existing economic strengths — its life sciences industry.
“The jobs in this sector are high-paying, and the capital investments by businesses create large benefits to our economy,” says Sen. Mark Messmer, chair of the Indiana Senate Commerce and Technology Committee.
The Indiana Bioscience Research Institute began four years ago with $50 million in funding. The state provided half of that start-up money, with the rest coming from the state’s universities and private firms.
The institute provides a collaborative environment for private industries and academic researchers; the state’s hope is that this public-private research results in the commercialization of new ideas, as well as advances in areas such as heart disease, diabetes and nutrition.
The institute began at a temporary space but now has its own permanent center in downtown Indianapolis. Messmer says the additional $20 million in state funding will allow the institute to expand its space as well as its research and commercialization capabilities.
“Indiana, as well as any state, has a lot of incentive to support the life sciences industry,” says Messmer, noting the high wages and large capital investments associated with it. The sector includes pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices and equipment, the agricultural sciences, medical laboratories and biologistics.
“We have a long history of successful entrepreneurs in our state that have been leaders in the life sciences and medical device industries,” Messmer notes. But he adds that companies in the life sciences also need a pool of talented workers; to that end, lawmakers also have authorized the construction of a new STEM and Health Professions Facility at Ball State University. This 175,000-square-foot facility at one of Indiana’s largest public universities is expected to increase the number of young people trained in the life and biological sciences.
The life sciences are a $63 billion industry in the state, employing more than 56,000 people at nearly 1,700 companies, Indiana University research shows. The average worker in this sector earned nearly $99,000 in 2016. In addition, Indiana exports $10 billion in life-science products (more than one-quarter of the state’s total manufactured goods).
Across the Midwest, health care companies attracted near-historic levels of investment in 2016 (see table), according to an analysis released earlier this year by BioEnterprise, an Ohio-based firm that focuses on growing bioscience companies. Two areas in particular attracted most of this investment: medical devices and health information technology and services.


Article written by Laura Tomaka, CSG Midwest staff liaison for the Midwestern Legislative Conference Economic Development Committee.