In its July 3rd issue, the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal published a list of the “Top 25 Biotech Companies.” It tells a pretty sad story. The top 25 companies together employ fewer than 3000 workers in Minnesota. The top four employ 85% of them, and two of them, Beckman Coulter Inc. and Syngenta Seeds, are branches of much larger companies. I am also not sure how the companies were selected for the list. Most of them either sell reagents or test kits to the biotech industry or provide diagnostic services. Others, like Cima Labs, SurModics, Innovative Surface Technologies, and Receptors partner with pharma and med device companies to develop drug delivery technologies based on coating and other surface modification technologies. None are exclusively involved in developing biological therapeutic agents for the treatment of human afflictions, with the possible exception of Bioenergy, Inc., that is working on medical applications of ribose. I have lived here for 25 years and no one has ever been able to explain to my satisfaction why Minnesota is a leader in the medical device industry (you should see their list, which starts with Medronic), but has never developed a biotech industry. I am not an economist, and I dont want to over-analyze, but re ipsa loquitor.
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