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Governor's Life Science & Global Health Advisory Council Report: WA's Life Science Industry at Risk

Thursday, February 16, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Life Science Washington
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News Release


Contact: Amy Snow Landa on behalf of Life Science Washington
206-747-5912 or


Report Shows Washington’s Life Science Industry at Significant Risk


After a decade of strong growth, the industry shows signs of stagnation

as strategic investments by the state lapse


SEATTLE – February 16, 2017 After more than a decade of strong growth in employment and innovation, Washington’s life science industry is showing signs of stagnation and has begun shedding jobs in worrisome numbers, according to a report released today by the Washington Life Science and Global Health Advisory Council.


The report, titled “Life Science and Global Health Development in Washington State: Future at Risk,” includes the following key findings:


  • The life science industry has an outsized economic impact in Washington. The average annual wage is 49% higher than the state’s average private sector wage and the industry creates 3.8 jobs across the state for every life science job—supporting more than 140,000 jobs across the state.
  • The industry saw a decade of strong employment growth (17 percent) from 2001-2011, when the state made a series of targeted investments to support its growth.
  • Since 2011, the industry has seen a steady decline in jobs and signs of lagging innovation, coinciding with a reduction in targeted state support.
  • Washington’s life science industry shed 900 jobs or 3 percent of its job base from 2011-2014, while the industry saw 2.7 percent job growth nationally during the same period.
  • Washington continues to be among the best in the nation in attracting federally funded research but is falling behind in translating that research into industry-led R&D and related job growth.


“The findings of this report clearly show the life science industry is at a critical juncture in our state,” said Leslie Alexandre, president and CEO of Life Science Washington and a co-chair of the Life Science and Global Health Advisory Council. “We need supportive public policy to capitalize on our state’s strengths. Otherwise, we’re going to continue to fall behind in leveraging federal research dollars to achieve private-sector growth.”


Hans Bishop, president and CEO of Juno Therapeutics and a member of the Advisory Council, said the report’s findings should deeply concern state policymakers. “This report underscores what I have been saying for some time, which is that Washington policymakers have a choice to make,” Bishop said. “Will state lawmakers simply stand by and watch as life sciences companies increasingly choose to invest in states that are more attractive? We stand ready to work with policymakers, legislators and the life sciences community to make Washington a better place for innovative biotech.”


“Washington has some incredible assets, but we lack a critical mass of life science companies,” added Leen Kawas, president and CEO of M3 Biotechnology and an Advisory Council member. “We want to keep our company and employees in Washington, but we are continually being recruited by other states that provide critical support for emerging companies such as ours.”


Gov. Jay Inslee convened the Life Science and Global Health Advisory Council in October 2015 to evaluate Washington’s position in these highly competitive sectors and identify strategies for future growth. The Advisory Council, comprised of life science and global health leaders across the state, commissioned TEConomy Partners, a leading national consulting practice in life sciences development, to assess Washington’s life science and global health sectors and evaluate how the state compares to peer states. The six-month project included an in-depth quantitative assessment of statewide trends, benchmarking against peer states, discussions with Advisory Council members and interviews with over 30 industry and academic leaders from across the state.


With the release of the report, the Advisory Council is calling on Washington state policymakers to reinstate policies that helped grow the industry and develop public-private initiatives that will address specific challenges facing the life science and global health sectors. The report identifies four strategic priorities:


·         Reinstate R&D tax incentives

·         Support entrepreneurship and company creation statewide

·         Retain mid-sized companies with high growth potential

·         Attract major corporate innovation centers


Gov. Inslee’s 2017-2019 budget proposal includes restoring the R&D tax incentives.


“This report shows that Washington has failed to maintain a supportive business climate for life science companies,” said Alexandre. “Other states have recognized the challenges—and the rewards—in growing and sustaining a world-class life science industry and have invested accordingly. Our state needs to take action to support this industry or it risks losing more companies and jobs.”


FULL REPORT: “Life Science and Global Health Development in Washington State: Future at Risk,” Appendix AAppendix B 



About Life Science Washington


Life Science Washington is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(6) trade association. Its mission is to support and grow Washington state life sciences through advocacy, collaboration and investment. Serving more than 600 members, Life Science Washington brings together research institutions, investors and innovators to grow the state’s life science economy. More information, including a complete board roster, can be found at | @LifeScienceWA



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