Biotech survey finds opportunities for PR

SAN FRANCISCO: A new study showing that employment in bioscience companies is booming in all 50 states also means opportunity in the area for PR agencies, says one of the study's sponsors, Fleishman-Hillard.

SAN FRANCISCO: A new study showing that employment in bioscience companies is booming in all 50 states also means opportunity in the area for PR agencies, says one of the study's sponsors, Fleishman-Hillard.

The study, done in conjunction with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), was released last week at the group's international convention in San Francisco, which was visited by hundreds of protesters demonstrating against genetically modified foods and similar projects.

Fleishman said it will use the study's data to increase its own biotech practice.

"We see this as a very strategic tool for us to become even stronger and more entrenched in the biotech industry," said Paul Laland, Fleishman SVP and partner.

The firm is expanding into burgeoning biotech markets, such as San Diego, San Francisco, and Boston, by recruiting new employees with skills in one or more of the biotech sub-sectors. The study found that states tend to specialize in biotech sub-sectors.

Laland noted that the agency has hired people with "very specific experience" in biotech fields, including agriculture, medical devices, drugs, research, and health centers.

The study, believed to be the industry's most comprehensive, found that state support for biotech companies has not waned with the economic downturn but rather has opened new opportunities.

States are encouraging biotech growth with incentives, such as grants, tax credits, and education programs.

States like Arizona and West Virginia, which reported no biotech initiatives just three years ago, have moved quickly to increase funding in that area.

The current study expands on a 2001 industry report, which was based on data compiled from 42 states. This year's includes all 50 states.

In total, there are more than 885,000 biotech employees nationwide, and the largest number (37%) work for medical-device companies.

The Battelle Memorial Institute and the State Science and Technology Institute conducted the study.

The BIO convention opened with 17,000 attendees, 500 reporters, and 1,375 exhibitors.

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