Market CT as a Bioscience Hub in 2020, Legislature Tells State Agency

The Connecticut legislature appears to be quite insistent on making Connecticut synonymous with bioscience.

The latest evidence is legislation approved this month in the closing days of the legislative session that “requires Connecticut Innovations (CI), by February 1, 2020, in consultation with a bioscience trade group, to contract with an advertising agency to create a marketing plan, social media campaign, and dedicated website to promote Connecticut as a bioscience hub,” according to the Office of Legislative Research.

The legislation, approved overwhelmingly by the Senate and House, has a familiar ring It follows similar efforts enacted into law in 2018.


Special Act 18-16 required the Department of Economic and Community development, not later than October 1, 2018, to “update the department's Internet web site to include the following items: (1) Information concerning bioscience, and (2) an explanation of crowdfunding and links to resources for businesses and entrepreneurs interested in pursuing crowdfunding opportunities.”  The language of the law also called for “links to such items” to be “displayed prominently on the main page of such Internet web site.”

As of this month, the word bioscience does not appear on the website’s home page, but the department includes a “Bioscience” page that includes industry facts through 2016 and a four-year old video highlighting Alexion, a company that announced in September 2017 that it would relocate its headquarters from New Haven to Boston.  The site also provides links to the industry association and to UConn’s bioscience initiative.

Also last year, the legislature approved Special Act 18-23, which requires Connecticut Innovations to “develop (1) a short-term and long-term strategic plan to develop and grow the bioscience sector in Connecticut and (2) a marketing and promotional strategy to complement such strategic plan.”

The plan was to be developed “in collaboration with the Department of Economic and Community Development, the chairpersons and ranking members of the joint standing committees of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to commerce and public health and bioscience industry stakeholders, including, but not limited to, institutions of higher education, bioscience businesses located within and outside the state, industry associations, a biostrategist and the Connecticut Health Data Collaborative.”

The 150-page plan and appendices was released in December 2018.  Although the section “Economic Trends in Connecticut by Industry Size - How the Bioscience Industry Has Been Impacted” mistakenly places Boston within the state of New York (page 12), it also points out that “Connecticut biosciences have decreased in employment from 2013 to 2016 from 26,731 to 25,717. Despite this, there was an increase in establishments from 1,125 in in 2013 to 1,248 in 2016. This is primarily due to the large decrease in the drugs and pharmaceuticals sector. There was a total decrease in employment of 3,422 between 2013 and 2016.”

The report adds that “There are many more establishments that have been created than have been destroyed, which shows a large potential for growth in the Connecticut economy. Connecticut is one of the largest states for higher education in science and technology graduates and has a highly qualified workforce. It will be difficult to make up the employment difference with a few large bioscience industries leaving, but with proper investment and building in the rights areas Connecticut can continue to grow its rich and innovative bioscience community.”

The Department of Economic and Community Development, in a strategic report updated in May 2018, indicated the “bioscience cluster in Connecticut is composed of nearly 39,000 employees at more than 2,500 companies.”  That report is included as an appendix in the December 2018 Strategic Plan for the Bioscience Sector.

Last year’s law, which was effective on January 1, 2019, called for “an Internet web site designed to attract researchers, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, research institutions, health systems, health data companies and other bioscience-related entities to the state by advertising the strengths of the state to such persons, providing links to resources in the state for such persons, and including links to such persons and institutions of higher education located in the state; (2) a social media plan; (3) metrics for evaluating the success of the state's marketing and promotional efforts.”

The addition of the just-passed 2019 legislation suggests that the legislature is looking to keep tabs on how the marketing initiative progresses.  Connecticut Innovations must report to the legislature’s Commerce Committee, by January 1, 2021, “on the results of the marketing plan, campaign, and website.”

If signed by Gov. Lamont, the legislation becomes law on July 1, 2019, exactly one month after final passage at the Capitol.

The state’s 2018 bioscience report includes a 36-page “Guide to Evaluating State Bioscience Investments,” prepared by TEConomy Partners, and stresses that the state is well-positioned for bioscience growth:

“From developing UConn Health and the Connecticut Biosciences Innovation Fund (CBIF), to the recruitment of Jackson Laboratory and Yale University’s development of the $25M Blavatnik Fund, the state now has many of the innovation layers needed to ensure it is well-positioned for future growth.

  • CT’s bioscience sector currently employs nearly 39,000 workers in over 2,500 companies.

  • Every new job in the industry results in an additional 1.33 jobs created

  • CT ranks 4th in the nation for bioscience patents per 1,000 people.

  • 54% of all venture capital invested in state is in bioscience

  • 80% of all CT academic R&D investments are in bioscience

  • CT ranks as the nation's 5th most innovative state.

  • CT has a highly educated workforce, ranking 3rd in adult population with advanced degrees.

  • CT ranks 6th in the US for the number of scientists and engineers in the workforce per capita.