The proposed N.C. Senate budget calls for a zeroing-out of all financial support for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. That wipe out would have a big impact on the state’s life science industry, warns Biotech Center CEO Doug Edgeton.

“We don’t want life sciences to go the way of textiles, tobacco and furniture manufacturing here,” Edgeton tells WRAL TechWire via email from the international BIO convention in Philadelphia.

“The sector’s technologies hold the solutions to many of our most pressing problems.

“If the state continues its modest investment in the Biotech Center, we can solve these problems here and create high-paying jobs across North Carolina. If not, there are other states lined up to move this sector out from under us.”

WTW reported in detail about the proposed budget cut on Tuesday. The news came out of the blue, especially since a proposed House budget actually contained a lot of good news:

  • $13.6 million in funding
  • All money recurring, rather than one-time

Should the full Senate go along with the proposal from its leadership on the budget, it will be up to the lobbyists and members to negotiate some sort of a settlement on funding.

Edgeton said “educational meetings” have taken place to try to make clear to state leaders the impact of the Biotech Center on the state’s economy.

“For the last several months, many other business leaders and I have been articulating the impact that the Biotech Center creates for the state’s life science industry,” Edgeton says.

“This has included educational meetings with legislators, Gov. [Pat] McCrory, his budget director, and key staff. We hear many things in those conversations, and we don’t always know what the final number will be.

“We did not expect the Senate to eliminate our budget.”

Just two years ago, the Center, which helps fund startups and research all over the state and is a key factor to N.C.’s $73 billion life science industry, was funded at $17.2 million.

“Obviously, it’s not what we’d worked and hoped for,” Robin Deacle, vice president for communications at the Biotech Center in RTP.

As WTW reported Tuesday, the Biotech Center, which operates satellite around the state, provides millions annually in grants and loans to help startups, provide equipment, and for university research.

In a recent report conducted by the Battelle consulting firm, data showed that “95 currently active portfolio companies (loan recipients) … are estimated to contribute $70 million annually in state and local revenues,” Deacle noted.

Edgeton and members of the Biotech Center team are at the international BIO convention are touting “the state’s $73 billion-a-year infusion to North Carolina’s economy” and call North Carolina the “SuperScieNCe'” state.

(More from Edgeton is coming later)