Editor’s note: Bio Watch is a regular feature on Fridays. See Allan Mauer’s other Bio Watch stories today on Biolex and StemCo.Although North Carolina’s biotech industry is “poised for explosive growth,” it should emphasize “growth from within”, says a report issued this week by the North Carolina State University Emerging Issues Institute.

The Institute, which issued the report as a result of a forum on emerging biotech issues in the state earlier this year, sees a need for biotech to expand in niches statewide rather than just in the Research Triangle. Toward that end, the Institute plans to participate in initiatives in eastern and western NC this fall to explore how they can participate in biotech growth.

The report says that the Research Triangle’s successful strategy of “build it and the companies will come” should be in part modified to “provide educational training now and the companies will come.”

Other areas of the state may successfully attract biotech manufacturing concerns, for instance, if they have an educated work force and put other appropriate incentives in place, the report suggests.

Noah Pincus, director of the Emerging Issues Institute at NCSU and author of the report tells Local Tech Wire, however, that often “We all get swept away by the question of economic incentives (such as tax breaks)” while a whole series of other growth issues “never get addressed.”

Those, say Pincus, include such things as improving the efficiency of technology transfer from the region’s top research universities, developing access to capital from seed to final rounds, and social and environmental cautions.

Since two-thirds of NC’s companies “are smaller, homegrown operations,” about half from university research, “economic development should include a greater emphasis on growth-from-within strategies,” the report says.

The report quotes NC Biotechnology Center VP Steven Burke, who calls biotech’s emerging abilities to alter life, cross species boundaries, and blur plant and animal distinctions, “the stuff of our mythology.” It notes that the speed of change compounds the pressing need for open and sustained public debate of the issues raised.

Pincus says, “I pick up an immense frustration from people that they’re not getting a chance to engage on these issues, that there’s not a conversation about them.”

Pincus adds that the Institute hopes to be a conduit for information and planning efforts to build public support for new approaches to economic and community development.