For a generation California has been the world leader in life sciences innovation. California is home to the most jobs, the most biotech, device and diagnostics companies, the largest share of NIH grants and the world’s greatest concentration of top-tier basic research institutions. But the challenges to their leadership has never been more serious. Other states and countries, like China, are aggressively courting California researchers and executives with promises of economic incentives. Recent gridlock in Washington, together with sequestration, pressure on discretionary spending and the need for skilled labor immigration reform, threaten California’s (and the nation’s) basic research enterprise, which is the foundation of our ecosystem.
Meanwhile, the State of California, is taking steps to improve the environment for biomedical research and development. Governor Brown has signed legislation to reduce duplicative regulation of drug and device facilities and, recently, to offer tax incentives for firms to expand operations within the state. As this report demonstrates, California’s medical device and biopharmaceutical industry was resilient through the worst of the Great Recession, being one of only two states to add employment in this industry from 2008-2012. With both federal research funding and venture capital investment down, California’s resilience faces new tests as the state seeks creative ways to advance the industry to the next level.