State Science Advisor
The life sciences industry has a significant impact on the Utah economy. In the first quarter of 2013, the Utah life sciences industry cluster (as defined by GOED) represented nearly 1,000 companies and more than 26,000 jobs. These jobs paid an average of $66,000 a year, or 162% of Utah average wages.
Utah offers a world-class effort in arterial and vascular access devices, producing 70% of all devices used worldwide. In addition, Utah is very active in the biotech and drug delivery sectors. The Utah Population Database, coupled with the state’s genealogy records, is the world’s most comprehensive of its type. This has led to the discovery of more human genes than anywhere else in the world and will, in time, translate into major technology being applied to the emerging field of personalized medicine.
The Utah Cluster Acceleration Partnership (UCAP), a collaborative initiative of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, the Department of Workforce Services, and the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE), released the Life Sciences Cluster Acceleration Strategy in August 2012. Findings of the strategic industry review reveal many significant contributions and opportunities for Utah.
Major findings of the assessment are:
- Utah’s life sciences industry grew rapidly from 2001 to 2010, outpacing a growing national sector. Employment in Utah’s life sciences industry grew by 25.8 percent from 2001 to 2010, which included a 9.2 percent increase in jobs from 2007 through 2010. At the national level, growth in life sciences employment was 8.4 percent from 2001 to 2010, but essentially flat during the period 2007 through 2010.
- Utah is specialized in its industry concentration compared to the nation and outpacing national growth in all four life sciences industry subsectors. A comparison of the life sciences industry in Utah to that of the nation reveals that across four major subsectors—Medical Devices and Equipment; Drugs and Pharmaceuticals; Research, Testing, and Medical Labs; and Biomedical Distribution—Utah is specialized with at least 20 percent higher level of industry concentration than is found at the national level for that subsector. In addition, each of the major subsectors of the life sciences industry is growing faster in Utah.
- Utah’s life sciences industry is a source of high-wage jobs, paying average annual wages that are more than 50 percent greater than that for the overall private sector.
- Analysis of core competencies suggests many opportunities in Utah for growth in the life sciences industry cluster in the years ahead. Matching life sciences research strengths with Utah’s existing industry strengths suggests four areas that appear to offer the best opportunity for growth. These include: Novel medical devices; Molecular diagnostics and personalized medicine; Molecular medicine; drug discovery, development, and delivery; and Natural products and dietary supplements
The Battelle Technology Partnership Practice (TPP) was engaged to analyze Utah’s life science industry sector and research and development base, identify any gaps in the state’s life science infrastructure and facilitate the development of strategies and actions. TPP is the consulting arm of Battelle, the world’s largest, nonprofit independent research and development organization.