Biotech is Growing in Colorado

Last month I posted a link to an interview featuring Colorado BioScience Association‘s (CBSA) Executive Vice President, April Giles. The interview briefly touched on some of the innovation happening in the state.

Though, I was curious to know a bit more about CBSA’s effort to grow and support the industry. So, I was pleased when April kindly agreed to participate in a Q&A.

April Giles, Executive Vice President of the Colorado BioScience Association

Her answers below offer insight into critical elements of bioscience economic development strategy:

BIO:  What areas of bioscience are currently most active within your state?

April: Employing nearly 27,000 jobs, Colorado’s industry grew 4.6% in employment from 2007-2010 compared to a national decline in jobs in the industry by -1.4% in the same period, and a -6.8% decline in employment in the private sector nationally.

The medical device and equipment subsector is the largest and highly specialized growth area in the State, seeing a 16 percent employment increase since 2001.

Ag-bio was another important area for Colorado’s industry, growing 46.9% in employment from 2001-2010 and 28.6% from 07-2010.
This growth continues and is demonstrated by six local company expansions announced to-date in 2012:
Bal Seal – Expansion into a $45 million, 155,000-square-foot plant in Colorado Springs.  Plans to hire 200 employees once complete to grow production of their Bal Seal Canted Coil Springs® and spring-loaded connectors.

Allosource - Expansion of 70,000-square-foot, two story, building adjacent to their original site in Centennial.  AlloSource provides employment for more than 400 people in Colorado, to lead development, processing, and distribution of bone and soft-tissue allografts.

Covidien PLC – Opened a new 63,000-square-foot research and development center in Boulder.  The Research and Development Innovation Center is one of 4 worldwide, and will have 160 employees and 18 laboratories.

DaVita Clinical Research – Opened its new research center at the St. Anthony Central Hospital campus in Lakewood.  The new 80-bed, 36,000-square-foot facility will be used for drug development and to test new products for specialty populations, employing 58 executive and medical professionals.

Tolmar – Fort Collins-based pharmaceutical company expands into a 21,000-square-foot building to house approximately 60 research and development scientists.

Spectranetics – A Colorado Springs based medical laser company expands by 20,000 square-feet, and expects to continue employment increase at a rate of about 5 percent a year.

In addition to specific companies, Colorado is also expanding its industry infrastructure.

BioFrontiers Institute Grand Opening Apr 26

The Institute is housed in the state-of-the-art Jennie Smoly Caruthers Biotechnology Building on University of Colorado Boulder’s East Campus. This new facility will bring together the scientific vision of BioFrontiers and the resources it takes to explore critical areas of unknown biology and translate that knowledge into applications that will advance human health and welfare.

Fitzsimons Redevelopment Authority (FRA) officially opened its new Accelerator Building Aug 22.

The $8 million, three-story, 37,000-square-foot expansion is adjacent to its original Incubator Building at the Bioscience Park Center (BCP) in the Fitzsimons Life Science District.

Accelerator Building at the Bioscience Park Center in the Fitzsimons Life Science District in Aurora, CO

BIO:  Are there currently any state-level legislative barriers to economic development you are working to overcome?

April: We are in constant contact with our legislators and congressional delegation to create a supportive tax and regulatory climate for our companies and promote access to capital.

This year we faced a challenge to preserve funding for the Bioscience Discovery Evaluation Grant Program (BDEGP) that provides gap funding to move promising commercial technologies to market.  This program is crucial for long-term job creation and company formation and we were able to still keep it intact with a 25% budget cut.     The 2013 legislative session will be primarily focused on full funding for BDEGP.

BIO:  Is there another state or specific initiative that you look to as a model for your efforts?

April: Both the PROPEL Initiative in Illinois through iBIO and their Institute, as well as MassCONNECT run by MassBIO.  These two programs offer a one stop shop for access to specialized resources and expertise to guide the development of early-stage life sciences companies.  They accomplish this through a high level of involvement of seasoned biotechnology professionals who provide expertise essential to creating value in companies (business development, pre-clinical development, clinical development/regulatory, marketing, PR).

BIO:  How is your organization engaging in social media to educate and engage audiences?

April: We actively use social media to connect with our members.   Through daily postings of news and events our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn sites have increase 10% over the last year.  LinkedIn groups have also become a great way to connect with our community sectors on issues specific to their companies.

BIO:  When is your annual meeting? Anything new or exciting you’d like to promote?

April: We are looking forward to our Annual Awards Dinner on December 6th with over 500 bioscience industry executives, researchers, investors and entrepreneurs.  This event celebrates the success of Colorado’s community by recognizing individual contributors, as well as bioscience companies.

This year will be very exciting as we are announcing our new Colorado BioScience Institute, a 501(c)3 non-profit that expands our educational and workforce resources to further grow the industry and address training needs.

Stay tuned for the return of the Rocky Mountain Life Science Investor and Partnering Conference in 2013, in partnership with Johnson & Johnson Development Corporation.  The conference features 30 regional companies to over 40 out of state investors.

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