Posted Mar. 29, 2017 at 7:22 a.m.

Report: NC life science sector employs 63,000, has $86B economic impact

Published: 2017-03-29 07:22:07
Updated: 2017-03-29 07:22:07

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The numbers continue to climb for North Carolina’s life science sector, bringing new companies, high-paying jobs and opportunity statewide.

We now have over 650 life science companies statewide that directly employ 63,000 people and account for 260,000 jobs overall, counting suppliers and support businesses. Life science companies provide $2.2 billion in state and local tax revenues.

(WRAL TechWire reported on the initial findings contained in the report on Feb. 28)

Roll it all up, and North Carolina’s life science sector creates $86 billion in total economic impact.

That’s the main storyline in the newly published 2016 Evidence and Opportunity: Impact of Life Sciences in North Carolina.

TEConomy Partners LLC, a Columbus, Ohio-based global provider of research, analysis and strategy for innovation-based economic development, prepares the report every two years for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

The TEConomy research fits well with the non-stop statewide intelligence gathering by the Biotech Center’s professional librarians, which uniquely pinpoints employment numbers, life science company totals and some other statistics that can be hazy in some of the outmoded data-collection processes used by government agencies seeking to shed light on industries.

The combined findings of TEConomy and NCBiotech’s Life Science Intelligence group show that North Carolina consistently places in the top tier of this fiercely competitive, wide-ranging sector. The highlights:

  • Nearly 400 of the companies are involved in research and development
  • About 130 more do contract research and testing
  • Over 100 more are in production and manufacturing
  • We specialize in drug development; contract research and testing; agricultural R&D, feedstock and specialty chemicals
  • We have a concentration in bioscience distribution
  • We have rapidly growing strengths in medical devices, cell therapies, regenerative medicine and other cutting-edge disciplines and technologies

Biotech Center programs

  • NCBiotech funding and non-funding programs fill gaps in the pipeline from idea to market
  • Research and commercialization grants generate $28 on average for each $1 in funding
  • Biotech growth companies attract $109 for each $1 loaned by NCBiotech


  • Since 2012, the state's life science jobs have increased 6.6 percent, or three times the national growth rate
  • We've seen huge growth since 2001, adding 20,000 jobs
  • That has increased our jobs base by 40 percent


  • The average wage in NC life sciences tops $87,000
  • The average wage across NC’s private sector: $45,000
  • Average wages in the N.C. life science sector have grown by 13 percent since 2001
  • Average wages in the N.C. private sector have grown by 6 percent since 2001

And you can take that to the bank.

There's a lot more to see in the report's 50-plus pages. If you want to save a tree, you can read it online now at:

(C) N.C. Biotechnology Center

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