College to Host State Biotech Group June 8

Alamance Community College will host the June 8 advisory committee meeting for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, bringing together industry and academic leaders from across the Piedmont to develop the region’s life science assets.

Biotechnology contributes $59 billion in activity annually and 237,000 jobs to North Carolina’s economy. The N.C. Biotechnology Center delivers a range of technology-based economic development programs to spur innovation, education, commercialization and job creation.

At this meeting, Alamance Community College leaders will provide an update of the College’s Biotechnology Center of Excellence, a regional hub focused on industry supported and technology-based workforce development. The College is ideally situated between the Triad and Triangle, the busiest biotech/life science corridor on the East Coast.

College President Dr. Algie Gatewood will explain how the College’s $39.6 million bond referendum request is linked to the region’s biotechnology development efforts. In addition, other leaders in the biotechnology industry are expected to provide updates and presentations.

Biotechnology is a wide-ranging field that can embrace stem cell and regenerative medicine, pharmacology, histotechnology, cytotechnology, nanotechnology, microbiology, herbology, biomanufacturing and food crop science. Biotechnology is the use of living organisms to perform specific industrial and manufacturing processes.

According to the NC Biotechnology Center: “Continued growth in North Carolina’s bio-manufacturing industry will require new employees with complex training and technical skills tailored to these regulated positions.  Close to 2,500 new employees will be needed each year in biopharmaceutical manufacturing industries, while fewer than 200 – 300 workers are currently trained annually.” 

That Center – a private, non-profit that connects biotech companies with university researchers and investors – notes that if North Carolina’s bioscience base maintains its current growth trajectory, that industry will top $100 billion by 2025.

The growth rate of bioscience locally has already been phenomenal. In 2009 in the Piedmont Triad, there were 11,059 jobs in that sector. By 2014, it had grown to 15,138 jobs – a 37 percent increase. In Alamance County alone, the number of bioscience jobs jumped from 1,982 in 2009 to 3,958 – a 100 percent increase. Local employers include LabCorp, ARMC and BD Diagnostics.

In a June 2016 report, the N.C. Biotechnology Center noted that Burlington is the #1 small Metropolitan Statistical Area in research, testing and medical labs. 

Alamance Community College has the longest running 2-year Biotechnology program in the United States. ACC’s cell culture program is second to none in content, equipment and facilities.   The College has the most complete biomanufacturing suite of any North Carolina community college.

“We are pleased to convene and collaborate with relevant, enthusiastic and influential regional leaders from industry and academia to help us strategically support innovation and job growth,” said Nancy Johnston, executive director of NCBiotech’s Piedmont Triad Office. “Our goal is to strengthen relationships statewide to support North Carolina as a global leader in the life sciences.”