Amongst other areas, the Biotechnology
industry directly affects the arenas of healthcare and agriculture.
Continued research and development of biotechnology products can
seriously alter these two essential aspects of everyday life.
Thus, as biotechnology has gained in size and scope, it has become
clear that every developed country needs an element of this industry.
Beyond that, however, it has also been made clear that biotechnology
is essential for developing countries as well, as this industry
develops more efficient ways of producing food and preventing and
treating disease. Thus, there is truly a need for biotechnology
to become a global industry.
The biotechnology industry is also
one of the youngest industries around. Though some
companies have been around since the late 70's or early 80's, it
has only been in recent years that the full potential of the biotechnology
industry has been realized. This has led to rapid growth within
the industry. Thus, competition has grown tremendously.
North Carolina will have to make extra efforts to stay a leader
in the field.
With the current trends of globalization
that have included more transnational cooperation and improvements
in communication and transportation, global expansion is not only
a possibility for biotechnology, but a reality. This page
will explore the various issues and trends that have been brought
about by globalization.
Global Industry Growth
The global need for biotechnology
can be seen in the expansion of the industry in the United States
and in North Carolina in particular. Biotechnology is in a
rapid state of expansion. According to the Biotechnology Industry
Organization, the industry tripled in size in the United States
between 1992 and 2001, and jobs increased from 79,000 nationwide
to more than 191,000.1 Between 2000 and 2010, the
US Department of Labor estimates that industries directly involved
with biotechnology (such as drug manufacturing, health services,
and agricultural services) will add approximately 3 million new
jobs to the United States labor force.2
This same rapid growth can be seen
in North Carolina. Looking at employment statistics (see maps
and tables), it can be seen that the industry has been expanding
by approximately 10 % annually over the past 6 or 7 years.3
As mentioned in the overview, the North Carolina Biotechnology
Center has partnered with the Golden Leaf foundation to set up a
massive training initiative for the biotechnology industry.
The availability of skilled workers is what will help to continue
to bring new companies to the area. Through this initiative,
along with the North Carolina Community College System's top-rated
job training program, the state has also set up two new incubators
near Universities in order to give first-hand training experience.
These steps will help create a huge available workforce, which is
why it is estimated that the biotechnology industry could employ
125,000 people by the year 2023.
The state of North Carolina itself,
along with multiple biotechnology companies within the state, has
endeavored to form international partnerships that will benefit
biotechnology on a global scale. In February, 2002, for example,
North Carolina, through the leadership of the NC Center for Biotechnology,
signed an 18 month agreement with the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh
to collaborate and exchange information on biotech.4
Andhra Pradesh is a state known for its preeminence in stem cell,
health, and agricultural biotechnology.
partnerships are occurring on a firm level as well. Just recently,
Tranzyme pharma inc., a company with facilities in Research Triangle
Park, announced its partnership with Shin Nippon Biomedical Laboratories,
Ltd. of Tokyo, Japan.5 The two companies will work
together to research non-human models of human diseases to study
them and work for cures in primates.
Through technological advancements
such as the internet, globalization has made this kind of long-distance
information trading efficient, cheap, and truly much more feasible
than it would have been fifteen years ago. These collaborations
can help the industry to grow and advance faster because it can
help eliminate overlapping projects and spread the word of new advancements
North Carolina: How it stays on top
Even with the intense global industry
growth and the establishment of new international partnerships,
North Carolina remains a global leader in the field of biotechnology.
There has been continued expansion into North Carolina and multinational
and foreign biotech firms are still coming into the area. According
to the 2002 Global Technology Report, North Carolina had the 5th
best biotechnology economy in the United States.6
How does the state stay this competitive when there are so many
different global options for companies?
North Carolina was the first state
in the US to establish its own center for biotechnology. The
North Carolina Center for Biotechnology
was really formed as a result of foresight. Biotechnology
has been growing most in the past 10 years, but the center was opened
in 1981. Establishing this infrastructure so early has allowed
the state to design strategies to stay ahead of the game.
The policy implications section of this website lists a number of
initiatives the state has taken to remain competitive in the global
As opposed to the recent trends
in some other white collar industries that have seen jobs moving
to foreign markets at the expense of US jobs, offshoring that has
occurred within the biotechnology sector has not been at the expense
of employees in the United States or more particularly in North
Carolina. Thus, when a company like Civentichem (headquartered
in Pittsboro, NC) opened up a new 5000 square foot research
and development facility in India in 2002, no domestic jobs were
loss.7 It was rather simply a factor of the overall
growth mentioned above. Hence, there has been no real “offshoring”
of American jobs to foreign markets within the biotechnology industry
to speak of since the industry is in such a period of rapid growth.
There is concern, however, that
as the industry continues to grow, competition will become so fierce
that offshoring may become a viable incentive for companies.
It is believed that the biotechnology industry will grow in clusters.
As major manufacturing and research companies settle in one area,
smaller and local supply, shipping, and other companies will form
around it to develop a larger industry infrastructure. North
Carolina needs to make sure that this infrastructure develops in
such a way that it roots the industry to the area so that offshoring
does not become a problem in the futuer.
North Carolina has continued to
attract multinational corporations and foreign businesses to the
area. Globalization thus far has had a positive impact upon
the biotechnology industry by allowing for partnerships and continued
expansion and advancement. It is imperative that the state
do everything within its power to remain attractive to foreign investors
so that the industry continues to expand locally. If foreign
markets with cheap labor become available to biotechnology, the
industry could see major outsourcing as other US industries have
seen. Thus, by continuing to build a strong infrastructure
within the state and taking precautions now, North Carolina can
remain a leader in the biotechnology industry.