Michigan’s life sciences industry recorded growth in most sectors between 2012 and 2014 in both jobs and the number of businesses, according to a report from a national trade group.
Total employment in the industry in Michigan grew 5.7 percent during the two-year period to 44,277. Those jobs pay an average annual salary of $83,482.
In addition to the job growth, the biennial report from the Washington, D.C.-based Bio Industry Organization, or BIO, shows that the number of companies in Michigan involved in life sciences grew 4.1 percent from 2012 to 2014 to 1,833.
The BIO report also noted increases in academic R&D expenditures, venture capital investments, and the number of patents issued to life sciences companies during the period analyzed.
“The numbers were great. It’s nice to see the increases across the board,” said Stephen Rapundalo, CEO of the Ann Arbor-based trade association MichBio. “The data is telling us that our industry continues to be strong and robust, but it is also a call to action to ensure that we don’t regress in any way.”
MichBio earlier this year issued a strategic plan for the life sciences industry called a “Roadmap for Success.” Prepared by MichBio with Business Leaders for Michigan and the University Research Corridor, the report stated that despite the progress over more than a decade and the “strong assets” it offers, life sciences in Michigan remains uncompetitive compared to other states and requires renewed private and public sector efforts for it to grow and meet its potential.
“We are encouraged by strong investment in our companies, but the markets remain competitive and Michigan must do more on the policy front to improve access to capital for our bioscience startup ventures,” Rapundalo said.
Direct employment within the drugs and pharmaceuticals sector grew 11 percent to 8,813 positions and the number of companies increased 49.2 percent to 941. The medical device and equipment sector grew 5.7 percent to 11,736 jobs and total firms increased 24.2 percent to 298.
The BIO report considers Michigan a “sizeable” and “concentrated” state in the medical devices and equipment sector.
The pharma sector’s progress in the state followed an overall rebound in pharma in the U.S. after the Great Recession curtailed job growth.
“To see that kind of comeback is nice,” Rapundalo said.
Employment among research, testing and medical laboratories increased 5 percent to 10,966 jobs, although the number of firms in the sector was essentially flat.
BIO noted that the Kalamazoo-Portage area remains a major hub in the state for life sciences and is the only metropolitan statistical area in Michigan to have specialization in all five life sciences sectors. The Kalamazoo-Portage area overall ranked 21st nationally in employment in drugs and pharmaceuticals and first among medium-sized MSAs in medical device and equipment employment.
Rapundalo called Kalamazoo’s status “pretty awesome.”
“Kalamazoo tends to get forgotten in the grander scheme of things, but it’s very solid,” he said. “Kalamazoo should be pretty proud at what it’s been able to hold on to and grow new companies.”
In the other life sciences sectors in Michigan, employment in bioscience-related distribution grew 6 percent to 12,130 jobs, although the number of firms declined by 2.7 percent to 941.
The number agricultural livestock and chemical companies in Michigan increased 24 percent to 36, as employment in the sector declined 34 percent to 632.