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Employing Californians

The California biomedical industry has steady, if modest, gains in employment.

For previous reports, CHI, BayBio and PwC defined the biomedical industry as not only including core sectors such as biopharmaceuticals and medical device manufacturers, but also portions of industries with peripheral contributions to California’s biomedical hubs, such as glass container manufacturers, wholesalers, and diagnostic laboratories. Using this broader definition of the industry, total employment in 2011 was 269,997. This year, CHI, BayBio and PwC have refined the definition of the biomedical industry to only include its core sectors. As a result, total employment in the core industry for 2011 is 152,806.

  • The biomedical industry employed 152,806 people in 2011, more than two times that of the aerospace industry (~70,000).
  • Since 2007, biomedical jobs have held steady through the recession (average annual growth rate, 0.5 percent). The number of core industry biomedical employees in 2011 (152,806) has recovered from 2009 levels (150,453).

Total wages and salaries for the California biomedical industry totaled $15.5 billion in 2011. The average salary for the biomedical industry is approximately $101,658, with variability depending on sector and location. These high-paying jobs are dependent on hubs and innovation ecosystems as well as a highly-trained, specialized and skilled workforce. Companies are keen to find not only the best minds but also motivated and inspired people.

Ralf Otto, Boehringer Ingelheim“Besides technological skills, we expect entrepreneurial mindset and team spirit. Based on our values, we emphasize both personal and professional development and encourage employees to never stop learning.”

Ralf Otto, Ph.D., Vice President Biopharma Operations USA, Site Head, Boehringer Ingelheim Fremont, Inc.

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Biotech clusters are critical to attracting and retaining talent

Biotech hubs and innovation centers are dependent upon a number of factors including 1) presence of top-flight science and medical research universities and institutes; 2) access to private investors such as angels and venture capital, 3) local and state support for a wide-range of businesses from start-up to large pharmaceutical companies, 4) highly educated and skilled workforce.

Oanh Dang, Sequenom“California needs to ensure that it keeps maintaining and building its biotech hubs. It is very difficult to move to a new place if there are only a handful of companies in a specific industry, especially in biotech where expansion and contraction of companies is very common.”

Oanh Dang, Director Business Development, Sequenom

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Biotech hubs have evolved around world-class basic research and institutions

The biomedical industry is concentrated in several major clusters throughout California. A key driver of successful clusters is the presence of high-level basic science in the form of research universities and private biomedical research institutes. In addition to being the intellectual foundation of science and research for the industry, these institutions also help develop the entrepreneurs who establish and grow the companies that commercialize inventions from these institutions. From the Bay Area to San Diego, bioscience research clusters provide many benefits to their local communities.

Michael Mussallem, Chairman and CEO, Edwards Lifesciences “Although the cost of doing business in California is higher than many other areas, the state also offers access to first-rate infrastructure, outstanding public schools and a positive quality of life. These factors provide great opportunities for a skilled workforce, whether they are looking to establish a new job in the industry or are building long-term careers.”

Michael Mussallem, Chairman and CEO, Edwards Lifesciences

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California research institutes and academic institutions are an essential part of the innovation ecosystem and are reliant on public funding, such as NIH grants, as well as private support, collaborations and partnerships. Read more…

Basic research attracts scientific talent and companies follow

A focus on building and supporting an innovation ecosystem attracts not only the best people but also important companies. Boehringer Ingelheim purchased a Fremont site in 2011 because they wanted to build a center for innovation and technology for the whole biopharmaceutical network and be part of an area that is known for intellectual capital.

Boehringer Ingelheim“The one clear competitive advantage California has held firmly is innovation. This is the fuel that powers our future economy.”

Ralf Otto, Ph.D., Vice President Biopharma Operations USA, Site Head, Boehringer Ingelheim Fremont, Inc.

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Bayer and Johnson & Johnson have each set up incubators in California. In each case, what attracted global companies was the concentration of biomedical research in a small geographical area, anchored by the University of California. While each incubator has its own model, the key attraction was the rich innovation ecosystem present in these regions. The goal is to lower the set-up and operating costs so more companies can be launched. Read more.

Janssen“Companies not only understand the science but they also know how to make a practical solution to the science and take it on the product path. The process of company creation is fundamental to the success of the biotech industry. We should try to make that process easier.”

Diego Miralles, M.D., Head, Janssen Labs at Johnson & Johnson


Education is key to California innovation

Understanding that K-12 education is essential both for the long-term creation of intellectual property and for the development of a skilled workforce, companies are investing in California’s education system, from having a scientist for a day in the classroom to capital and equipment donations. For example, Bayer has donated more than $2 million in laboratory equipment and supplies to high school and college science programs. Its commitment to science education is known through Bayer’s “Making Science Make Sense” program which provides funding and volunteer support at the K-12 grade levels and its novel “Biotech Partners” program in California’s East Bay which helps youth from populations underrepresented in the sciences explore biotechnology through a focused curriculum and internships.

Terry Hermiston, Ph.D. vice president of U.S. Biologics Research and site head for the U.S. Innovation Center “We need to foster and grow an educated workforce that will feed into and support the high tech jobs we have. California is where we are at today because of the academic institutions. We must continue to support education as it will be key to keeping California a top hub for innovation.”

Terry Hermiston, Ph.D. Vice President of U.S. Biologics Research and Site Head for the U.S. Innovation Center

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California must remain competitive for businesses

California competes with other states for the location of R&D facilities and manufacturing plants. With high state taxes, high housing prices, a strict regulatory environment, and a state government that has operated for years on the brink of fiscal crisis, California faces the challenge of demonstrating the value of doing business in the state. This challenge is magnified because, increasingly, competition for research talent and manufacturing is becoming global, with companies as likely to operate in Singapore or Ireland as in Vacaville, California.

Boehringer Ingelheim“As a state, we should be doing everything in our power to preserve and promote technology and innovation centers. The innovation in California is unparalleled anywhere else in the world.”

Ralf Otto, Ph.D., Vice President Biopharma Operations USA, Site Head, Boehringer Ingelheim Fremont

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