We’ve been talking to Norris Tolson, President & CEO of the North Carolina Biotech Center about an independent study conducted by independent researcher Batelle on the use of North Carolina tax dollars, and economic impact created by the Biotech Center. One section of the report compared NC’s biotech sector to those of larger, more densely populated states. Tolson had these thoughts on North Carolina being in the pack with those states:
“The interesting thing about that number is while we might be behind them in general size, we are growing faster than they are, and growing in the kinds of areas that you want to be in. One of the great things about NC Biotech is that we are so broad based. Some of the states that we compete with like Massachusetts or California, the two biggest in the industry, they are very specialized, meaning they have a very targeted effort in biotech, be it pharmaceuticals or some derivation. We have such a broad base and we are growing across the entire base. We started out many years ago in what was called industrial biotech. We have one of the biggest enzyme producers in the world with Novozymes, they control the enzyme that goes into a lot of products including biofuels. So while the Midwest may have a lot of ethanol plants, the enzymes that are used in that production are coming from Novozymes here in NC.
At the end of the day they are all looking to drive their business to a better bottom line, and they can do that by collaborating with our universities and researchers, and by utilizing our programs like work force training, they are developing the kind of workers they need for their organization.
As we look at the future of biotech in NC, we know that NC is one of those states that continues to grow in population. Forecasters suggest that with in ten years we will be about 12 million people. They are coming here to work in our great industries, like biotech. As we look at that growth curve, what we think we see is that when we reach that 12 million number, we think about 500,000 North Carolinians will be earning their living in the Life Sciences Industry. One thing the Battelle report gave us a strong number on, is that the average pay in this industry on the plant floor is about $78,000 a year, double the traditional industries in this state.”
On Monday we’ll wrap up our visit Norris Tolson, President & CEO of the North Carolina Biotech Center on the future of biotech and the Biotech Center .