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Florida Leads the Nation

Florida Leads the Nation

While the biotechnology industry has weakened across the U.S., Florida has seen a 21 percent jump in the number of biotech companies since 2008 and a surge in investment, according to the University of Florida.

Updated numbers from the Florida BioDatabase, maintained by UF’s Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator in Alachua, show 29 new companies opened during the last three years for a total of 165 in Florida. Biotech companies tracked by the BioDatabase are characterized by having a true research and development core that helps fuel the innovation of new products for Florida’s growing biomed industry.

“Florida is on track to become a strong player in the biotechnology industry,” said Dr. Michael Schmitt, editor of the Florida BioDatabase. “Our state has the key ingredients for growth including a strong research base and an increasing trend in venture capital funding.”

The rate of growth in total investment funding for the biomedical industry in Florida far outpaced the national scene with investment dollars in 2010 increasing 37 percent over 2009 to $158 million while life science funding growth nationwide has remained relatively flat over the past year.

Mirroring national trends, Florida’s biomedical industry is off to a strong start in 2011 with the level of investment dollars at more than $75 million in the first quarter alone representing nearly 50 percent of total funding in 2010 according to data collected for the Florida Biodatabase. Moreover, venture capital funding comprises over half this amount and consists of three deals valued at a total of $40 million.

Florida continues to show resilience in establishing itself with a true “bioscience brand” consisting of more than a dozen world-class research centers and key academic institutions including the University of Florida, named by the Milken Institute as the top performing public institution at transferring its research to the marketplace, and the Scripps Research Institute, one of the largest private, nonprofit biomedical research organizations in the world. Other significant institutes that have added to recent growth include Sanford Burnham, Torrey Pines, Max Planck, M2GEN, Miami Institute for Human Genomics, OHS Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, SRI International and Draper Labs along with key research centers at all of the major public universities in Florida.

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