State biosciences industry prospering

Despite tough economic times nationally, Connecticut’s biosciences industry is doing well, according to a new statewide economic report.

At a conference Monday, Connecticut United for Research Excellence, a non-profit corporation, presented its Seventh Annual Economic Report, which touts dozens of economic signals indicating that the state’s BioScience Cluster continues to grow and prosper economically. The report, delivered by industry heads to pharmaceutical executives and academics alike in the Peabody Museum auditorium, looked at research and development investments, job growth and laboratory space.

An 18 percent increase in bioscience research and development investments, which has brought the state’s total to $3.6 billion, was just one of the staggering statistics revealed in the report.

“Considering the economy, it’s just fantastic [the biosciences industry] grew so much,” CURE Managing Director Marcia Valente said.

Included in the medley of pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies used as sources for the report were academic research institutions like Yale.

“Yale has done a tremendous amount to spin-off companies which contribute to the BioScience Cluster,” Valente said, citing Yale’s contribution to the sector’s upsurge as not limited to academic research alone.

Valente added that Yale’s Office of Cooperative Research was a key asset in the gathering of data for the survey.

Such upstart companies created nearly 500 new jobs in 2001, and Connecticut-based pharmaceutical companies accounted for more than 12 percent of all research and development dollars spent in the industry nationwide, the report said.

Several Yale students also braved the rain to attend the Connecticut Venture Group event, of which CURE is a sponsor.

“As an MB&B major, it’s exciting to see that an organization like CURE is working hard to strengthen the reputation of Connecticut, and particularly New Haven, as a biotech center in America,” Alexander Nazem ’04 said.

Debra Pasquale, CURE’s president, said the industry has “succeeded through strong partnerships” that emphasize the importance of industry and state collaboration in the sector.

The BioScience Cluster “is a key sector which continues to demonstrate that Connecticut’s economy is technology-driven and well positioned for continued future expansion,” Gov. John G. Rowland said in a press release. “Many of our Connecticut bioscience companies are developing truly leading-edge therapies, products and technologies that help treat people today, and undoubtedly will play a major part in improving medicine and quality of care in the future.”

Nazem added that CURE is a boon to Yale bio students because of its efforts to help nearby biotech companies succeed.

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