I recently posted about all the good press Columbus, Ohio has been getting from media outlets such as Livability Media and Fourth Economy. Columbus is definitely a great place to live and work — and the rest of my home state of Ohio is quickly becoming a biotech juggernaut.
Here are 5 reasons why biotech is going big in Ohio and all across the Midwest:
Ohio's greatest advantage for biotech and pharmaceutical companies may be its universities, hospitals, and research organizations. Renowned hospitals such as the Cleveland Clinic, Wexler Medical Center Ohio State University, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and Nationwide Children's Hospital are complemented by world-class research organizations such as Battelle and Cardinal Health.
Leading universities such as Case Western Reserve, Ohio State, and Miami University offer opportunities for research partnerships and supply the biotech industry with a strong talent pipeline.
World-Class Tech Infrastructure
Ohio also offers the leading-edge IT infrastructure needed by tech companies. In recent years, Ohio has invested more than $100 million in public IT infrastructure, including the state-of-the-art Ohio Supercomputer Center, which was established to provide university researchers and industry with access to supercomputer services and expertise.
Big Tech followed Ohio's lead and made major investments across the state. ColumbusRegion.com reports that tech giants AWS, Google, and Facebook have collectively invested billions of dollars in their Columbus-area data centers and notes that other major tech companies Veeva, IBM, and Accenture (among others) are Ohio employers. Many growing biotech companies such as Abeona Therapeutics are investing in Ohio, too.
Regional developments geared toward tech companies, such as Dublin Entrepreneurial Center, where AdaptaLogix was based, provide opportunities for tech innovation through collaboration. And we're ready for remote workers, too. Livability Media selected Columbus as the most remote-ready city in the U.S. for 2021 — which is key for tech companies that often employ a large remote workforce.
Affordable Office and Manufacturing Space with a Free-Trade Zone
In the heart of the Midwest, Ohio has long been a leading center for manufacturing. Economic changes in the last several decades have led to excess building and warehouse capacity in the Buckeye State, which translates to affordable land and office spaces and lower overhead for biotech startups.
The state has been proactive in attracting international companies and those that do business internationally, most notably through participating in Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) 46 and 47 (Ohio and Kentucky, respectively). FTZ sites were developed specifically to help local businesses better compete in the global marketplace by reducing duties on imported and exported merchandise. This is a huge benefit to pharma and biotech companies that may import and export reagents, biological materials, and/or expensive technology products.
Quality of Life
Regardless of what industry you're in, it's easier to recruit top talent if you're located where people want to live. With a relatively low cost of living compared to other tech hubs, ample green space and opportunities for outdoor recreation, and a range of housing options from big cities to small towns and everything between, Ohio is a good place to be — and not just for employees.
Employers benefit from Ohio's emerging tech hub status because, as a growing market, there are fewer biotech companies around to hire away their talent.
Verticalization of New Biotech
Verticalization of new biotech companies — which is the single most important reason biotech is booming in Ohio — is largely dependent upon the first four points I listed. There is also a powerful external motivator: scarcity.
In "The Rise Of Gene & Cell Therapy And The Resulting Need For In-House Production Facilities: A Guide," Jay Biggins says a manufacturing capacity shortage is the root cause for the verticalization trend in gene and cell therapy companies. He explains, "The growth in the number of clinical-stage startups has caused a shortage of capacity for viral vector manufacturing capacity among contract manufacturers which young gene and cell therapy companies traditionally rely upon for early-stage production."
Biggins also discusses location considerations for gene and cell therapy companies. He notes that while the need for talent has often led these companies to build their first facilities in the traditional biotech hubs, trends over the last two years signal growth in second-tier and emerging markets, such as Columbus, Ohio.
Gene and cell therapy and related technologies are major drivers of the biotech boom in Ohio and across the Midwest, and it's happening due to many of the reasons outlined above. These companies are bringing manufacturing back in-house because there is little to no commercial manufacturing capacity available for these emerging technologies, as Biggins explains.
Pharma and biotech companies are moving to Ohio to take advantage of tech infrastructure and affordable real estate to build new facilities with proximity to world-class research organizations and universities. Many contract development and manufacturing organizations (CDMOs) focused on biotech and therapeutics are also moving to Ohio to scale up operations and address the same manufacturing needs.
Verticalization simply isn't possible if any of the four key components I've mentioned are missing. As they are all present in Ohio, that's where biotech is taking off.
Thinking About a New Facility or Verticalization?
My company, AdaptaLogix, which is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, specializes in technology solutions for pharma and biotech companies located all over the world. We provide proven, pharma-specific financial, supply chain, and manufacturing software solutions.
If your biotech or pharma company is considering a move or breaking ground on a new facility, feel free to reach out to me through LinkedIn or at email@example.com. I would be happy to share my experience and answer any questions you may have.
About the Author
Since 1997, James Neal has built and deployed multiple industry-specific ERP systems for Clinical Research Organizations across the globe.