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Bioscience sector here, statewide heralded as economic driver

A state business group believes that the bioscience sector in Western New York and across the state is emerging as a source of hope for future economic growth but that the state must do more to help it flourish.

The Public Policy Institute, or PPI, presented a research report at Roswell Park Cancer Institute on Tuesday detailing the potential it sees for bioscience in the region.

PPI, the research arm of the Business Council of New York State, interviewed 30 industry professionals to help bolster its own research for the report: "Cultivating the Next Generation of Discoveries and Development in New York Bioscience." The report highlights the obstacles facing biotech companies. In addition, it offers three public policy recommendations to help jump-start the sector and make it competitive with other states:

* Create a Governor's Council to spearhead development and marketing of the state's bioscience industry.

* Establish a Small Business Innovation Research matching grant program for bioscience companies.

* Increase the amount of affordable incubator and lab space for start-ups and early stage bioscience companies.

The bioscience industry generates $309 million in state income taxes and $5.3 billion in total wages in New York State, according to the PPI report. Bioscience also brings in research dollars. Grants totaling about $1.09 billion were awarded across the state in 2010 between contributions from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Science Foundation, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the National Institutes of Health.

Heather C. Briccetti, president and CEO of the Business Council of New York, said research facilities such as Roswell Park place Western New York in prime position to become a world leader in bioscience. "What is missing, however, is a full appreciation of the extraordinary assets that exist in the region and a comprehensive plan to help promote them," she said.

Nancy L. Zimpher, chancellor of the State University of New York, said the PPI report "confirms that New York's biopharmaceutical clusters are at the foundation of the state's economic development and job growth potential."