Arizona's biosciences industry added jobs during the recessionary years of 2008-2009, growing by 7 percent while Arizona's private sector overall lost 11 percent of its jobs, says a report released Wednesday by the Phoenix-based Flinn Foundation.
The annual study by the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice found that Arizona continues to outpace the nation in generating bioscience jobs and firms. And in 2010, the state reached a record high $222.9 million in grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health, called the "gold standard" of biomedical research funding.
However, some of those grants were one-time grants funded with federal stimulus money, and Arizona continues to lag in "risk capital" investment - such as investments by venture-capital firms - considered the lifeblood of bioscience startup firms, the report says.
"We already knew that Arizona is one of the nation's fastest-growing states in the biosciences," said Walter Plosila, senior adviser to the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice. "We now know that this growth is not limited to good economic times."
Despite the growth, Arizona's biosciences sector has a below-average concentration of biotech jobs relative to the nation, the report notes.
Battelle says bioscience jobs in Arizona have increased 32 percent, to a total of 90,219, since the 2002 launch of Arizona's Bioscience Roadmap, the state's long-term strategy to build a nationally competitive bioscience sector. That was nearly three times the U.S. growth rate of 11 percent during this time period.
The jobs pay an average of $57,360, 36 percent higher than Arizona's private-sector average.
Employment in Arizona's biosciences industry is dominated by hospitals, though non-hospital bio employment has risen faster than hospital payrolls since 2002.
Battelle's Plosila presented the report Wednesday in Phoenix at an event hosted by the nonprofit Flinn Foundation. He is scheduled to present the findings in Tucson on Friday.
Bio report card
Trends in the state's biosciences sector
Startup firms +28%
Average wages +47%
NIH* funding +65%
Risk capital -84%
University startups -40%**
Technology licenses +11%
License income +82%
*National Institutes of Health
** Compared with average of five startups per year
SOURCE: Flinn Foundation, Battelle Technology Partnership Practice