Economic Growth: Biosciences Employment

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Employment in the biosciences field in Arizona has grown 41 percent over the past 10 years, showing growth even during the Recession. Marty Shultz, chair of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee, will talk about employment in the biosciences sector.

The biosciences are a growing part of Arizona's economy. Bioscience private sector jobs have increased 41% in the past ten years. That's significantly higher than the national average. In a moment, we'll hear from the chair of a panel that looks to continue Arizona's growth in bioscience, but first Mike Sauceda tells us about one organization that's key to the state's bioscience industry.

Announcer: Doctor Matt Huentelman checking on data at TGEN, the translation genome research institute in downtown Phoenix. Huentelman is one of many scientists working at the nonprofit to translate gnomic discoveries into advances in medicine.

Matt Huentelman: My lab, in general, is focused on identifying the genetic basis for human disease, leveraging that information, to then to develop new medicines or diagnostics for those diseases. And my lab focuses on neurological disease, and in particular, autism, Alzheimer's Disease, and as well as sensory disorders that might include deafness.

Announcer: Matt Huentelman says a high school chemistry course got him on the path to a career in science, and in college, that path expanded based on his desire to apply his knowledge to help others. He says he enjoys his work in the biosciences.

Matt Huentelman: Without a doubt, I love coming to work. But science is, is one of those fields that is extremely frustrating. It's a high-risk, high reward situation where, we're always motivated by the fact that just around the corner, what we could do here in the lab could really make a difference for one of these really significant disorders.

Announcer: The rewards of a bioscience career also come in the form of a good paycheck. Matt Huentelman is one of 300 people employed by TGEN where the average salary is $57,000 a year, but much higher for research scientist who is can earn salaries into the six figures. Tess Burleson is a chief operating officer for tgen. She says the high salaries have a big impact beyond.

Tess Burleson: To give back in many ways. Not just through purchasing power, but through charitable giving or those thing, as well.

Announcer: In 2010, TGEN had an economic impact of more than $79 million in Arizona. Generating more than $21 million in tax revenue, and more than 700 jobs directly and indirectly. The organization was founded in 2002, and the economic impact has more than tripled since the first study in 2006.

Tess Burleson: I always hate to say with great certainty this is where it's going to be because is usually there's always assumptions on this trajectory it would be here versus there, but there are great -- it's a great trajectory and we would anticipate that, you know, another 30 to 40% would not be unlikely in the next five years.

Ted Simons: Joining me now to talk about the bioscience job market in Arizona and its economic impact is Marty Shultz, chair of Arizona's bioscience road map steering committee. Good to see you again. And thanks for joining us. The state of the bioscience industry in Arizona, where are we?

Marty Shultz: We're doing quite well. And we're celebrating our tenth Arizona at tgen is celebrating their tenth anniversary on May 4. We started the bioscience road map ten years ago, sponsored by the Flynn foundation, and a very important thing that the foundation did to, to support in effort to bring people who were the researchers, the hospital administrators, the great scientists, and entrepreneurs together to grow this industry.

Ted Simons; So, for those who are not sure what bioscience is, give us a definition.

Marty Shultz: Bioscience is about the research that goes on in hospitals. Bioscience is about the research that goes on at tgen. The research that goes on at universities and privately. Why research? And it's primarily focused on personalized medicine and health care, and even though in Arizona, we boast about being a bioag center, as well, because of the sophistication of our agricultural community. So, this really is an industry that has high paying jobs. That is growing, that is worldwide, even though the way that we organizes it, we think that we can keep our kids here, at least I do, because when they learn, what we call stem education, science and math, they can continue on with good jobs.

Ted Simons: And why are the jobs increasing in Arizona, in Arizona bioscience?

Marty Shultz: We would like to believe because of the focus through the bioscience road map. And I think that that's true. What we have done is, is we brought all the parties together. We have 100 people, if you will, representing major entities on the bioscience road map, and they collaborate with one another. They work when we have problems, one of the problems is gaining a more venture capital, creating deal flow, and in terms of these research projects, and which, ultimately, begin with, with the research at the events, they say, but ultimately goes to the bedside therapies, medical devices, statewide growing industry, very impressive.

Ted Simons: Venture capital, how is that situation?

Marty Shultz: We've been up and down. Right now, the economy is hurting us, even though there is a fair amount of investment. We're doing a little bit better now. But, because we know it, we go to the angel investors. We go to the entrepreneurs, and we focus attention on what the need is. That's what the bioscience road map is all about. Improving, improving areas where there is need.

Ted Simons: Is the road map, is it more of a highway map in the sense of, of the areas? In other words, is it better to have a bioscience cluster in one spot, or all over the valley? We have the Mayo thing in north Phoenix.

Marty Shultz: Actually, it's not just the valley. The Arizona bioscience road map represents the great activity that's going on in Flagstaff and northern Arizona. Device manufacturing, the gore companies. Stints. Down in Tucson, there are many great examples of University and private sector Pharma, actually, doing well, and the valley, the universities, they are key, the medical schools, the great hospitals, the M.D. Anderson banner established in Gilbert, so this is really an Arizona corridor thing, and even in Yuma and all around the state, the opportunities to really grow this industry make a huge impact on the economy, and ultimately, on people's lives is what the Arizona bioscience road map is all about.

Ted Simons: And I guess my previous question is, as convoluted as it was, was trying to get to the point of whether it's better to keep things relatively close and get more explosive growth as opposed to more spread out? It sounds like you like to, the spread out idea?

Marty Shultz: It's not a matter of like. It's a matter of tt's happening because it's strategic. Each community because there are young people, universities, community colleges, and hopefully, excellent education systems to teach stem education, as I mentioned, science, technology, and engineering and math, and these, then, are tickets to, to high paying jobs, and frankly, globally competitive because the, the therapies and the Pharma that is produced in Arizona is, is sent worldwide. So, I like the impact on the Arizona economy. It's tremendous.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about the, the impact of budget cuts to universities and how that would affect research and how that would affect everything down the line is that -- how much of a concern is that?

Marty Shultz: Well that is a concern. Budget cuts on universities. They are an impact, but frankly, the universities have been very entrepreneurial, and have gone to foundations. They have gone to venture capitalists, and essentially, put some very creative deals together to bring money in where, where the, the state has not supported bioscience. But, in order for this to work, the state and the local Governments, including the cities, need to continue their efforts, and that's what we think, and we hope we're stimulating is the excitement, and the data that says, look, this makes economic sense. This makes sense for our citizens because ultimately, the benefit is better health care.

Ted Simons: Science foundation Arizona has had budget concerns, as well, regarding the legislature and the budget cuts, and such. Talk to us about that and give us an update and where that stands and, and the concerns there.

Marty Shultz: That is a legitimate concern. They have set up great aspirations for what they are able to do with the, the research that they are fostering. But, they do depend on the State of Arizona and on other Government entities, and as Government shrinks, their budgets, we're going to have to find new ways of, of funding the various activities. So it's very entrepreneurial, and some things are going to fade away, and others, frankly, the ones that have big impacts in health care, are going to be successful.

Ted Simons: Securing investments for early stage companies. You kind of alluded to that in the past, but that's got to be a biggy. How is that holding up?

Marty Shultz: One of the reasons the biosciences are successful, but we need to do more work, is that we can bring people together to collaborate, and this process is investing in early stages where research, research where, of course, the Pharma, the people ultimately going to produce the drugs or use the therapies or the devices, they are interested in late stage, just before it becomes commercial. So, the process requires investment all the way through. And we're able to advocate for the early stage, as well as the middle stage, but what we call deal flow is extremely important. That's why we look at the benchmarks that are provided by Flynn and by the Mattel corporation, and where we see weakness, we focus our attention, but everybody in the state who is part of the road map focused their attention on the things that need help.

Ted Simons: I know that the northeast has bioscience. San Diego, San Francisco. There are different regions. They got a head start on us, but we are catching up. Will we ever catch up, a, and b, are we doing things differently than those regions offering products and ideas with a difference?

Marty Shultz: Are we ever going to catch up to states like California and the area like San Diego? That started 30 years ago? Back east, the Bostons and that area? That started 30 years ago? Whether we catch up, we are -- we started from scratch. 10 years ago. Really, there was very little. Tgen was established by in part a grant from the Flynn foundation. We have grown the whole industry, the universities are on top of this. So, the answer is, I don't know that we're going to catch up with those that are decades ahead of us, but I will tell you, the impact on the Arizona economy is significant, and we have indicated in our bioscience road map, it has grown at a greater pace than the Arizona economy to the extent of about 10% greater. The jobs that we're talking about and the taxes that are paid over a billion dollars a year, huge impacts on the Arizona economy. So, very positive.

Ted Simons: Marty, it's good to have you here and thanks for joining us.

Marty Shultz: Thank you, Ted.

Ted Simons: And that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you very much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Marty Shultz:Chair of Arizona's Bioscience Roadmap Steering Committee

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