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Report: Arizona Adding Bioscience Jobs, But Not Venture Capital Funding

(Photo courtesy of University of Arizona)

Arizona’s bioscience sector is outpacing the country when it comes to adding jobs, but falling behind on venture-capital funding.

The latest edition of Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap, commissioned by the Phoenix-based Flinn Foundation, finds bioscience jobs grew by nearly 60 percent between 2002 and 2016.

Mitch Horowitz with TEConomy Partners conducted the study. He said on KJZZ’s The Show that Arizona still lags behind the nation in the level of bioscience jobs.

MORE:  Despite Growth Of Arizona Bioscience Sector, A Few Concerns Linger

“Back in 2002, Arizona was 24 percent behind the country in the level of bioscience jobs. Now, in 2016, we’re only 7 percent behind the U.S. level,” he said.

The gap is closing due to growth across all areas, including medical devices, drugs and pharmaceuticals and diagnostics.

“Just imagine if you had a company that had a platform with multiple products and every one of those products was gaining in share relative to its competition and that’s what’s been happening here in Arizona,” Horowitz said.

Nationally, venture capital funding has been rising, but not in Arizona. Horowitz thinks the state’s decision to bring back the Angel Investment Tax Credit program could help. The next Arizona Bioscience Roadmap report will be released in 2020.

Highlights from Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap

  • There are 25,686 non-hospital bioscience jobs in Arizona and 116,443 total bioscience jobs in 2016, an increase of about 6,000 total jobs from 2014. Since 2002, Arizona bioscience jobs have increased by 58 percent.
  • The average salary for a bioscience employee in 2016 stands at $63,801, which is 33 percent higher than the average private-sector wage.
  • Arizona received $189 million in National Institutes of Health grants in 2017, an increase for a second straight year and a jump from $163 million in 2016. However, competition for research funding remains fierce. Arizona’s share of the nation’s NIH funding has not meaningfully increased over the past decade.
  • The $504 million in Arizona universities’ research-and-development activity in bioscience-related fields in 2016 is a 12 percent increase since 2014, which had showed a decline from 2013.
  • Venture capital funding in 2017 for bioscience firms was $40 million for the second year in a row, a decline from the $82 million recorded in 2015. It also represents just .22 percent of U.S. bioscience venture capital.
  • University bioscience tech transfer is showing steady gains, with 33 bioscience startups, 119 patents issues and 131 licenses issued in 2016 and 2017, a 57 percent increase in spin-outs over the previous two-year span.

Source: 2017 Progress of the Biosciences in Arizona

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.