From Oregon Economic Development Guide 2022

MOU Aims to Demystify Bio Sector, Create Jobs and Economic Growth

Photo: Getty Images

The Oregon Bioscience Association and Onward Eugene, the Eugene area’s business acceleration agency, finalized a Memo of Understanding in December to jointly develop a targeted industry growth initiative that aims to create more high wage jobs in the region.

“Local leaders have raised the question about how the broader community can fully realize the economic opportunity being accelerated by the billion-dollar investment in the University of Oregon’s Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.

Many have also asked, how can we help newly created bioscience startup companies grow locally and how do we retain those high paying jobs when they do?” said Matt Sayre, managing director at Onward Eugene.  “The answer is that we will all do it together.

Onward Eugene is thrilled to partner with Oregon Bio and collectively, help advance economic prosperity in our community.”

Both organizations share the goal of enhancing and growing the local bio-manufacturing corridor by providing targeted industry-forward workforce training, expanding support and events focused on fostering entrepreneurial development, and by raising the visibility and the substance of the region’s benefits to bioscience companies.

“Our organizations are mutually driving toward developing support mechanisms for high growth and higher wage bio companies and organizations in the southern Willamette Valley,” said Liisa Bozinovic, executive director at Oregon Bioscience Association. “We are excited about how industry and academic collaborations are taking shape in Oregon’s emerging science and tech cluster, spurred by the billion-dollar investment in UO’s Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact.

Added Cassandra Moseley, interim vice president for Research and Innovation: “The University of Oregon is honored to be part of this groundbreaking partnership to leverage our investment in the life sciences at the university and build community. We look forward to seeing the long-term impacts of the program across the state, which could include growth in the life science and bioscience industry and economic development programs prioritizing life science as a key industry cluster.”

The Memo of Understanding holds a vision of the future where the bioscience sector is demystified and employment opportunities in the industry become even more accessible.

New industry-intensive workforce training and certifications will be expanded locally through Oregon Bio’s BioPro program. Both organizations will collaborate to expand talent recruitment to fill hundreds of local, skilled jobs.

A Catalyst for Regional Growth

Onward Eugene aims to use the agreement to localize professional development, build stronger ties with the UO’s new science campus; foster more economic development to grow and recruit firms to the city, Lane County and the Willamette Valley; and support and increase entrepreneurs’ industry outreach and collaborations.

“How can we help newly created bioscience startup companies grow locally, and how do we retain those high paying jobs when they do? The answer is that we will all do it together.”
— Matt Sayre, Managing Director, Onward Eugene

Oregon’s bio and life science ecosystem is defined by firms and organizations in bio-agriculture, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, re-agents and chemistry, labs providing research and development, and digital health technology.  More than 800 firms make up the industry statewide, with more than 100 of those residing in Lane County. The industry’s most recent economic impact report in Oregon shows the bioscience industry provides direct and indirect employment of 47,000 jobs, showing substantial growth in the past decade. Presently, a surge of open jobs has bio innovation and manufacturing companies in immediate need of skilled workers.

The average wage for a bioscience-related job in the private sector in 2017 was more than $70,000. The most recent economic impact study shows industry employment increased by 76 percent in the past two decades, and that current bio positions in Oregon pay 40 percent above the state’s average private wage.

Meanwhile, San Francisco-based Genentech has completed a $175 million expansion at its Hillsboro Technical Operations facility that will focus on commercialization of individualized medicines. The company, a subsidiary of Roche, anticipated hiring more than 100 people at the site, where it already employs 450. And Twist Bioscience, also headquartered in San Francisco, is bringing 400 jobs to a new facility in Wilsonville, near Portland. The 110,000 square foot Factory of the Future is scheduled to be operational in 2022.

“The Portland area is an established technology hub relatively close in proximity to our headquarters with a growing number of biotechnology companies, providing access to talent and advanced manufacturing to increase the speed of production and deliver products to our customers faster,” said Emily M. Leproust, Ph.D., CEO and co-founder of Twist Bioscience. “We are expanding our customer base and ramping production of our products at an exceptional rate. The Factory of the Future allows us to support the increasing needs of our customers as they scale globally and plan for aggressive growth into synthetic biology and biopharma market segments we cannot serve today.” 

Mark Arend
Editor Emeritus of Site Selection magazine

Mark Arend

Mark Arend is editor emeritus of Site Selection, and previously served as editor in chief from 2001 to 2023. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.


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