Biotechnology Industry in Texas Breeds Innovation, Jobs
Texas is home to thousands of life science and biotech companies, and the sector has a very big impact on the state's economy.
A diverse life sciences and biotechnology sector continues to contribute to a healthy Texas economy.
The Lone Star State’s 3,400 companies involved in biotechnology-related manufacturing, research or testing employ more than 88,500 workers. The state is fertile ground for life sciences innovation in everything from medical devices and pharmaceuticals to gene therapy and clinical research.
Biotech and life sciences companies are drawn here in part because of lower taxes and cost of doing business, as well as the proximity to major medical research institutions located in Texas.
Texas has stepped up in its commitment to expanding its base of life science businesses, evidenced by the Texas Emerging Technology Fund’s (TETF) investment of more than $233 million in biotechnology-related projects since 2005.
Medical Device Companies
The depth of the state’s biotech and life sciences sector can be seen in the more than 800 medical device companies that operate in the state and employ more than 15,000 workers. A dozen Fortune 500 giants have chosen to locate medical device operations in Texas, including Abbott Laboratories, Johnson & Johnson, GE, Cardinal Health, Becton Dickinson, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Agilent Technologies.
When Ferris Manufacturing was considering relocating its headquarters in 2011, one of the factors in its decision was the business climate in Texas. The company, which specializes in wound care products, relocated from Illinois to Fort Worth.
“We like the business climate in Texas,” says Dr. Roger Sessions, chairman and CEO of Ferris. “We wanted to be close to the airport, the weather is good, the taxes aren’t high and there’s no employee taxes, so it’s like our employees got a raise when we moved.”
The company was awarded a $450,000 grant through the Texas Enterprise Fund for relocating.
Another medical device company, Merit Medical, opened a research and development facility in Pearland. The company markets disposable medical devices used in interventional and diagnostic procedures.
“Pearland was chosen due to the proximity to the greater Houston area, in particular the Texas Medical Center and top-rated universities that produce phenomenal engineers with a tremendous technology and engineering base,” says company spokesperson, Anne-Marie Wright. “Merit will rely on these individuals in the future to move forward with material engineering.”
Texas is home to many nationally and internationally recognized medical research centers. The Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio is one of the world’s leading independent biomedical research institutions, operating on a $55 million budget and employing more than 400 people.
“The three areas of study in which we specialize are genetics, virology and animal models of human disease, primarily using nonhuman primates,” says Kenneth P. Trevett, president and CEO of Texas Biomedical Research Institute.
“The business environment for biomedical research entities, both for-profit and not-for-profit, in San Antonio in particular, and Texas in general, is quite good,” says Trevett. “There is seed financing to support new business initiatives, public assistance with recruiting of new companies, available and affordable land in San Antonio and abundant intellectual property around which to form new companies and collaborate with existing ones.”
Texas is home to 850 private scientific R&D firms. Many of the largest private biotechnology R&D firms in the world have operations in the state, including Covance, Quintiles, Premier Research and INC Research.
In 2012, Texas A&M University opened the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing , a first-in-class biopharmaceutical GMP (good manufacturing practice) manufacturing facility and interactive academic training center. It received a $50 million Texas Emerging Technology Fund award in 2009 to help it get established.
“The general business climate is great,” says Brett Giroir, vice chancellor for strategic initiatives, Texas A&M University System. “The state has low taxes, less regulation and a qualified workforce. We have created an industry cluster [of biotech and life science companies]. Texas is wide open for business and I expect this sector to grow substantially over the next decade.”