In an interview with WRAL at the CED Life Science Conference, Sam Taylor, NCBIO president, outlined the organizations goals for the year. Over the next two years, he said, North Carolina biotech manufacturers will need about 2,000 additional workers, so lobbying for full funding of North Carolina State University’s biotech training program is a priority for NCBIO in 2017.

The need, largely due to expansions and new biotech manufacturing plants in the state, will drive the need for trained workers.

“We’re looking at a bubble in our labor needs,” Taylor said. “We want to address that as quickly as possible.”

NCBIO wants the state legislature to add $1.5 million to NC State’s biomanufacturing training program “so it can run at the optimal capacity.” The program was cut to its current $3 million level during the Great Recession. “But it is very important to have that asset running full tilt,” Taylor said.

He added that NCBIO is also working with the state’s community colleges to increase their biotech training programs, including during a meeting at the CED’s Life Science Conference Wednesday.

Take R&D cost pressure off smaller firms

Taylor said NCBIO also wants to see the Biotechnology Center get full funding of about $3.5 million. “They’re doing a great job targeting areas of opportunity in the industry. Agbio, gene therapy, bio defense, precision medicine. They’re on the right track and we need to keep investing in a vehicle that served us so well.”

The organization also wants to see the SBIR, STIR matching grant program, funded at $3.5 million now, receive its full funding of $5 million.

“We would like to do something to help take some R&D pressure off small life science companies,” he said. “We’re looking at talking to legislators about reducing the sales tax on R&D supplies.”

Finally, he said, NCBIO is exploring how to provide incentives so farmers can adopt new technologies developed in AgBio, a major cluster in NC, where agricultures is still the number one industry.