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Iowa’s bioscience economy: Drugs and pharmaceuticals

July 20, 2016

Iowa’s bioscience economy: Drugs and pharmaceuticals

A report released last month indicates Iowa’s drugs and pharmaceuticals industry was one of the fastest growing in the nation from 2012 to 2014. In those two years, sector employment grew seven percent.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), the world’s largest trade association representing biotechnology companies, together with TEConomy Partners, a leading research firm, published the report, titled “The Value of Bioscience Innovation in Growing Jobs and Improving Quality of Life.

The above map, taken from the report, shows where drugs and pharmaceutical job growth was at its highest from 2012-2014. You can see Iowa shaded in the darkest color, indicating its top-tier job growth during that period in pharmaceuticals.

This pharmaceutical industry growth is fueled by the University of Iowa in Iowa City, a town which is a biomedical research hub. The report listed Iowa City as being a small metro area with one of the highest concentration of drug and pharmaceutical jobs in the country. That’s because, as the report shows, Iowa’s public universities are research powerhouses: per capita academic biosciences R&D in Iowa is $159 per resident, 23 percent greater than the national average and the eighth highest nationally.

For private companies, Iowa is one of a few states to offer a refundable R&D tax credit, and Iowa has numerous programs in place to help businesses commercialize technology developed at our universities.

“The hierarchy in Iowa is much flatter; you have the access to people who can help and help you quickly,” said Dr. Susan A. Wood, president and CEO of Iowa City-based VIDA Diagnostics, a biomedical company which has worked with the state of Iowa.

For more information on Iowa’s biosciences industry, visit the biosciences page of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) website. To learn more about working with the state of Iowa on a new business or business expansion, contact IEDA at



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