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Posted: September 12, 2007
Biotechnology center seeks medical technology support
(Nanowerk News) A strategic plan unveiled today by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center calls upon business, academic and civic leaders to boost the state's support for advanced medical technologies.
The plan calls for establishment of a North Carolina Center for Advanced Medical Technologies to develop the burgeoning business sector that includes diagnostics as well as therapeutics and encompasses such diverse specialties as biotechnology, engineering, nanotechnology and bioelectrics.
Teri Louden, president of The Louden Network of Chapel Hill, served as a consultant to the Biotechnology Center for this report. An experienced medical marketing executive and strategy consultant to the industry, she described her year-long study's findings at a forum at the Biotechnology Center sponsored by the Council for Entrepreneurial Development.
"Weíre facing a convergence of technologies and an aging population thatís creating an explosion of opportunities in this new global sector," said Louden.
"And thatís why we need a Center for Advanced Medical Technologies even though we already have the worldís first and finest Biotechnology Center. It will be the catalyst and support network we need to advance this technology sector from within, and also provide resources and services to those global scientists and companies who might like to move here."
Ken Tindall, senior vice president of science and business development at the Biotechnology Center, said advanced medical technologies is a sector being considered for development through the Centers of Innovation program.
"This strategic plan provides a framework for our stateís world-class medical researchers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, biomedical engineers and other specialists who will define our future in advanced medical technologies," Tindall said.
It is sometimes difficult to find meaningful statistics on companies that fit the definition of advanced medical technology companies. Medical devices are part of the sector, but fast-changing applications and tools brought to the healing arts are also changing the language used to define and quantify it.
For perspective, however, the number of medical device companies doing business in North Carolina grew from 105 in 1996 to 142 in 2006, according to the report, which was prepared with additional support from the N.C. Biosciences Organization (NCBIO).
The report, "North Carolinaís Strategic Plan for Advanced Medical Technologies," estimates medical device industry employment in North Carolina at 7,200, up some 17 percent from 6,179 a decade earlier. Average wages for medical device industry workers in 2006 were $40,648 per year, and the industry is forecast to bring $9.5 billion to North Carolina within the next two years.
Still, North Carolina lags behind California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Florida, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Indiana, Texas and the territory of Puerto Rico in medical device industry employment.
Recent industry growth has been strong among start-up firms statewide, however. Between January of 1999 and December of 2006, advanced medical technologies companies in North Carolina have collectively raised more than $545 million in private and public equity from investors. Among these investments, $370 million were in medical device companies, $99 million in diagnostics firms, and $76 million in medical information technology businesses. During the same period, large firms paid more than $810 million to acquire emerging medical device companies founded in North Carolina.
"This study shows that advanced medical technologies are going to thrive in places where underlying technologies like biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information technology provide a solid foundation," said Sam Taylor, president of NCBIO.
"We are blessed here in North Carolina to have great strengths in each of those fields, and a strong and growing medical device industry that is already building innovative new products based on their convergence."
The report says the state needs better access to specialized resources, however, such as managers and support companies with experience in medical device and advanced medical technologies regulation, marketing and reimbursement. Recruiting key personnel is among the reportís leading objectives for future sector development efforts.
Daniel Pelak, president and CEO of InnerPulse here and co-chair of the advisory committee that developed the strategic plan, said the sector is one of the nationís fastest-growing during the past decade.
"North Carolinaís historical strength in biotechnology and medical science uniquely qualifies the state to participate in this growth," said Pelak, an experienced entrepreneur in the industry who was CEO of Closure Medical when it was recently purchased by Johnson & Johnson.
"The creation of the Advanced Medical Technology Center will provide the support network for existing growth companies that are pioneering life-saving technologies and help attract further investment to the state."
Besides Louden, Taylor, Pelak and Tindall, Biotechnology Center President and CEO Norris Tolson also participated in the release of the report.
The Biotechnology Center is a private, non-profit corporation supported by the N.C. General Assembly. Its mission is to provide long-term economic and societal benefits to North Carolina by supporting biotechnology research, business and education statewide.
Contact: Jim Shamp, News & Publications Editor, North Carolina Biotechnology Center, 919-541-9366 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit the Biotechnology Centerís Web site at www.ncbiotech.org.