Life Sciences & Biotechnology
The area Life Sciences and Biotechnology cluster is rooted in a history of research, development, and entrepreneurship. The work focuses on disease prevention and treatment, health and aging, veterinary medicine, and plant sciences. The cluster is nestled on a strong foundation of higher education research assets such as the Fralin Life Science Institute with over 120 affiliated faculty, Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion with over 500 faculty, students, and staff, and Radford University Carilion.
With these and other assets including the City of Roanoke’s Biotech Project, Roanoke Innovation Corridor, RAMP, VTC Ventures, and workforce programs like that at Virginia Western Community College, the cluster has drawn large businesses interests to the region, such as Johnson & Johnson, and has fostered as many as eight new life science startups since 2010. From this research and through partnerships, the region has built a private cluster employing over 27,000 individuals with average earnings of $80,710 per job and contributing $2.8 billion to GRP.
This cluster comprises 1) pharmaceutical, biological product, and medical device manufacturers; 2) private research and development firms in life sciences, bio- and nanotechnology; and 3) a living laboratory for public and private research and education entities across the healthcare system; these include primarily hospitals and nursing and continuing care facilities that serve those in the region but also draw over fifty percent of their users from outside GOVA region 2.
Companies include but are not limited to Abbot Laboratories, Acomhal Research, Bauch & Lomb, BEAM Diagnostics, Carilion Clinic Innovations, CytoRecovery, Intuit Surgical, Landos Biopharma, Luna Innovations, Novozymes Biological, Solstas Lab Partners, P1 Technologies, and Tiny Cargo.
Prioritized Strategies and Activities
- Implement talent retention and attraction programs, particularly for scientists and managerial professions, centered on local universities and regions that may currently draw talent from this region (e.g. North Carolina)
- Promote better regional and national marketing for the region’s life science and biotechnology cluster identity
Develop clear career pathways from entry through senior level employment to illustrate a lifetime of career opportunities in the region’s life sciences cluster.
- Increase technician and non-degree training
- Identify, implement, and support innovative strategies for worker retention
- Develop accessible and affordable childcare programming to increase talent participation in industry cluster
- Catalyze technology adoption and development among cluster businesses (e.g. software, diagnostic devices, biopharmaceuticals and catalogued university IP).
- Develop Entrepreneur-In-Residence and Investment Seminar programs for the life sciences to grow and attract knowledge and expertise in the region.
- Identify and implement programming that reduces the cost of entry for beginning life science businesses; for example, mapping existing unused and underused lab spaces that could serve as subsidized labs and workspaces with flexible configurations or developing new, affordable spaces
- Building/attract regulatory expertise in the life sciences (e.g. FDA expertise).