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Study says Florida becoming player in life sciences

Study says Florida becoming player in life sciences

Florida has strong potential to be competitive on the national and international level as a home for the life sciences industry, according to a two-year study conducted by Milken Institute.

   According to Florida Enterprise, the state's public-private economic promotion agency, the study concludes that 'the industry's value-added sectors can propel the state into the role of a formidable industry player, able to compete in national and global markets.'

   The California-based Milken Institute has worked with Enterprise Florida, Workforce Florida and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council, along with 11 local and regional economic development partners, to assess the state's position since Florida began working two years ago to attract biomedical research and related commercial activity.

   The study was prompted by the Scripps Research Institute's decision to open a major center in Palm Beach County, and state officials have been working to help position the state for additional developments, eventually joining California and Massachusetts as primary centers for the life sciences industry.

   The study noted Florida already has many of the elements in place. The medical devices sector, located chiefly in Tampa Bay and in the eastern and northeastern regions, is seen as a primary strength, with a No. 2 national ranking and a global market of $200 billion.

   But the study also pointed out that Florida is not competitive in terms of life science wages per worker — especially in the area of health services — weakening the potential for developing the 'innovation pipeline' needed to succeed in the industry.

   Yet Florida and its universities show potential as a training ground for the industry.

   'Providing the training necessary to ensure our workers have the skills demanded by the life sciences industry is essential to Florida's efforts to compete on a global scale,' said Larry Champion, interim president of Workforce Florida. 'The Milken Institute study reinforces the importance of programs such as our recently launched Employ Florida Banner Center for Biotechnology based at the University of Florida. The center is charged with developing cutting-edge new curricula with industry input that can be used to upgrade the skills of people currently working in the industry and prepare others for new careers in life sciences.'

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