Eugene’s Bioscience Industry Poised for Growth
article by Matt Sayre | Managing Director, Onward Eugene
One of the bright spots of the U.S economy during the pandemic has been the BioSciences Industry. While many industries shrank during 2020 compared to 2019, the BioSciences industry grew by 1.4%.
Oregon’s bio and life science ecosystem are defined by firms and organizations in bio-agriculture, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, reagents and chemistry, research and development labs, and digital health technology. More than 800 firms make up the industry statewide.
Locally the average wage for a bioscience-related job in Eugene is more than $73,000. The most recent economic impact study shows industry employment increased by 76 percent in the past two decades, and current bio positions in Oregon pay 40 percent above the state’s average private wage.
The more than 100 local BioScience companies shared in the excitement of the recent announcement that the Oregon Bioscience Association and Onward Eugene are formally partnering to accelerate the growth of the bioscience industry in the region.
Oregon Bioscience Association and Onward Eugene finalized a Memo of Understanding to jointly develop a targeted industry growth initiative aiming to create more high-wage jobs in the region.
“Local leaders have raised the question about how the broader community can fully realize the economic opportunity being accelerated by the billion-dollar investment in the University of Oregon’s Phil and Penny Knight Campus. Many have also asked, how can we help newly created bioscience startup companies grow locally and how do we retain those high paying jobs when they do?” said Matt Sayre, managing director at Onward Eugene. “The answer is that we will all do it together. Onward Eugene is thrilled to partner with Oregon Bio and collectively help advance economic prosperity in our community.”
Both organizations share the goal of enhancing and growing the local bio-manufacturing corridor by providing targeted industry-forward workforce training, expanding support and events focused on fostering entrepreneurial development, and raising the visibility and substance of the region’s benefits to bioscience companies.
Liisa Bozinovic, executive director at Oregon Bioscience Association states, “Our organizations are mutually driving toward developing support mechanisms for high growth and higher wage bio companies and organizations in the southern Willamette Valley. We are excited about how industry and academic collaborations are taking shape in Oregon’s emerging science and tech cluster, spurred by the billion-dollar investment in UO’s Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.
“The University of Oregon is honored to be part of this groundbreaking partnership to leverage our investment in the life sciences at the university and build community. We look forward to seeing the long-term impacts of the program across the state, which could include growth in the life science and bioscience industry and economic development programs prioritizing life science as a key industry cluster,” shared Cassandra Moseley, interim vice president for Research and Innovation.
The Memo of Understanding, finalized and signed by both organizations at the December 2 Bio in the Valley event, holds a vision of the future where the bioscience sector is demystified, and employment opportunities in the industry become even more accessible. New industry-intensive workforce training and certifications will be expanded locally through Oregon Bio’s well-known BioPro program. Both organizations will collaborate to expand talent recruitment to fill hundreds of local, skilled jobs.
Onward Eugene aims to utilize the agreement to expand jointly developed programming, cultivate more resources for bioscience companies locally, and deepen ties between UO’s Knight Campus and the community more broadly. In the first quarter of 2022, look for a new event to be announced dubbed “How to Fund Your Bioscience Startup’. That event will be followed by “How to plug-in to UO and Eugene for Bioscience” in Q2, with more announcements about each quarter.
“A year from now we will have solidified and grown connections across Lane County’s bioscience network and within Oregon’s broader bioscience sector. This partnership provides needed leverage for Lane County’s already significant private and public sector investments in biosciences. It will enable us to more readily identify opportunities [and barriers] and respond to them,“ shared Kathy Smith, Owner at KJ Smith Associates Planning & Business Development.
“This partnership is an important step forward in harnessing our collective energy here in Lane County to activate growth and innovation strategies that will result in job creation and contribute to regional prosperity. It will increase the visibility of Lane County’s bioscience sector and foster our bioscience talent pipeline; growing, retaining, and attracting individuals who are at the heart of competitive advantage in this sector.”