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Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.

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The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

U.S. States Struggle for Their Share of the Biotech Pie

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An article in The Washington Post notes that many American states are keenly interested in getting a share of the biotech industry. The article points out:

A report released at the BIO 2006 conference here showed U.S. employment in biosciences reached 1.2 million in 2004. That was slightly more than a 1 percent increase since 2001, with workers earning a lucrative average annual wage of $65,775.

"These are good, well-paying jobs," said Walter Plosila, a vice president at Battelle Technology Partnership Practice, which co-sponsored the report.

The report also found that states are spending billions of dollars to support bioscience research and development. State governments are also using investment funds and tax incentives to attract large industry anchors, instead of solely focusing on launching and growing new bioscience ventures.

Nearly every state sponsored a booth at this week's worldwide biotech industry meeting at Chicago's McCormick Place convention center, according to James Greenwood, president and chief executive officer of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.

Thirteen governors were expected to attend the conference, up from the nine who came to last year's event, according to a BIO spokeswoman.

This race for biotech jobs and biotech dollars is of course made more interesting by efforts on the part of some states to block embryonic stem cell research, while others, like California, are raising money to fund such endeavors.

For those familiar with Dr. Richard Florida's Creative Class theories, the idea that particular cities have a tremendous advantage in terms nurturing dynamic, high-tech companies doesn't come as a great surprise. What may be a surprise is to what degree this economic competition is affecting states' internal debates on issues such as stem cell research.

Missouri, known for its ban on stem cell research, is also known for its impressive biotech research hub -- a critical element of its economy developed over time with government support. If Missouri's top biotech companies and research centers can no longer attract the best scientists (say, because the state is perceived as being anti-biotech or overly restrictive), they can no longer remain on the cutting edge. Which means they either have to stake out limited niches where the stem cell ban will no longer have a chilling effect or simply leave the state.

California, which mustered considerable money to support such research, found its funding plans blocked by two attorneys suing the state government for its allegedly unconstitutional initiative. (They argue that it lacks proper government and public oversight. These lawyers apparently also have ties to anti-abortion organizations.) The Associated Press notes that $14 million was raised from philanthropic organizations. This money has been loaned to California's government until the lawsuits freezing its access to $3 billion in bond money set aside for stem cell research have been resolved.

In the meantime, of course, this conflict continues to shape California's biotech industry, for good or ill.

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Future Imperative

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