In January, 2010, Florida’s Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability (OPPAGA) issued a report to evaluate “the Innovation Incentive Program’s progress toward creating clusters of high wage, high skilled, complementary industries that serve as catalysts for economic growth in regions in which they are located and across the state.” This report analyzed the results to date of the state’s commitments to invest in nonprofit research institutes in biotechnology and other research sectors from 2003 through 2009, including the incentives offered to Scripps Florida which were not part of the Innovation Incentive Fund.
BioFlorida generally supports the findings of this report, specifically that focus on the commercial bioscience enterprise and early-stage companies is necessary to maintain and grow this sector of our economy.
We feel that some aspects of the report must be clarified and emphasized:
• As the headline of the report implies, bioscience cluster development is long-term by nature and we should not expect those clusters to have matured at this stage.
• Only 5 of the 8 institutes referenced in this report are actually conducting biotechnology research in Florida.
• The investment funds created by the Legislature mentioned in this report, the Florida Opportunity Fund and the Florida Growth Fund, are not focusing their investments on seed-stage biotechnology companies. The need for such seed level support remains critical.
• The $1.5 billion in state and local incentives is allocated to the institutes in annual installments over 10 years conditional on the creation of a certain number of direct jobs per institute. These milestones have been met or exceeded by all institutes to date.
• Numerous related jobs have been created as a result of these investments and will continue to be created, not just in biotechnology companies. Construction, legal, healthcare and other jobs have already been created in the hundreds as a result of these investments.
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