Local News

Triangle Region's Life Sciences Industry Generates 29,000 Jobs, $5.5B Economic Impact

Posted April 11, 2006

— Life science companies now generate an annual economic impact of $5.5 billion and employ almost 29,000 people, a new study from the Research Triangle Regional Partnership shows.

The number of life science-related jobs has increased by more than 50 percent since 2002, based on data gathered by the non-profit organization.

Some 538 companies related to the life science economy are located in the 13-county area included in the Research Triangle region. Counties included in the partnership are: Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake and Warren.

The Triangle also has the largest concentration of contract research organizations (68), such as Quintiles, in the nation, generating more than 7,000 jobs.

A 2003 study based on 2002 data conducted by the same organization reported the region had 102 companies employing some 18,000 people.

"This study demonstrates the continued growth, strength and diversity of the Research Triangle Region's life sciences cluster, and demonstrates the high rate of return for the region and State of North Carolina's investments over the past 25 years," said Peter Pellerito of PMP Public Affairs Consulting. He is the study's co-author and an economic policy consultant. "There are dozens of states and regions around the world that would love to have this industry cluster. Local industry leaders and economic developers can be proud of the cluster's substantial contribution to the region's economy."

The Triangle region is regularly cited as having one of the largest biotech clusters in the United States.

The study, titled "Innovations @ Emerging Intersections: A Strategy to Maintain the Research Triangle Region's Competitiveness in Life Sciences", was released at the Biotechnology Industry Organization conference in Chicago.

However, the report also warns against complacency, stressing that other states and countries are aggressively trying to develop or expand similar life science clusters.

"The Research Triangle Region of North Carolina is a global leader in life sciences with a strong, growing and diversified industry base, excellent higher education resources and a solid inflow of R&D and innovation," the study concludes. "Yet the growing opportunity being created at the intersections of life sciences disciplines and increasing global competition make complacency unacceptable.

"The Research Triangle Region must solidify its global position through specific actions that improve the region's infrastructure, intellectual capacity and industry engagement."

Action steps recommended by the report include:

  • Focus on emerging areas at the intersections of innovation, such as biodefense
  • Capture the manufacturing that results from local discovery, including monitoring of drug development as each reaches Phase I study
  • Expand the region's entrepreneurship support and capital infrastructure, including a number of tax incentives
  • Intensify industry-focused outreach, promotion and media placement
  • Increase broader industry interaction and engagement
  • Expand collaborative efforts to include all life sciences support companies and organizations within the Research Triangle Region
  • Expand the labor pool available to the life sciences industry.
  • "North Carolina and Research Triangle Region lawmakers and economic developers should see this new regional report as an affirmation of past efforts as well as a reminder of what it will take to continue to compete in today's global marketplace," Pellerito said.

    The Research Triangle Region is well positioned to compete, the report concludes. More than 100 independent studies cite the region as one of the best places to operate a business, work and live.

    "Life sciences is a key driver of our region's economy and we remain committed to supporting its growth," said Charles Hayes, president and chief executive officer of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership. "Our role as business and economic development leaders is to make sure we continue to provide the resources and environment that will spark innovation and new jobs and investment in this important area. This report outlines our strategy to do that."

    Some of the findings based on data from 2005 in the report include:

  • Average salaries for life since workers were $63,042, some $24,000 higher than the average national private-sector wage
  • Life science companies' demands create an additional 116,000 service sector jobs
  • Life science companies are concentrated in four areas: drugs and pharmaceuticals; agriculture; medical devices, contract research
  • The Region's competitive assets include:

  • The presence of research universities Duke, N.C. State and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Some $2 billion awarded annually for research and development, such as federal grants
  • Talented workforce
  • Quality of life
  • Cost of living
  • Diversified base of life science companies
  • Reputation of Research Triangle Park
  • To download a copy of the report, go to:

    Research Triangle Partnership


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