In Raleigh and across Wake County, spurred by the world-class science and research concentrated in the greater Triangle area, the life sciences industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors of our local economy. Three decades of focused investment has transformed the region into a world-leading center for life sciences. The North Carolina Biotechnology Center, created in 1981 as the first state-sponsored biotech initiative and the first of its kind in the world, exemplifies the region’s vision and long-range commitment. Today, there are more than 500 life sciences companies located in the Triangle area. This critical mass of companies and the wealth of resources supporting them, including the research communities at N.C. State, Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill, bodes well for our leadership position over the years to come. Access to research, technology, engineering support, customers, suppliers, and a highly educated and skilled workforce, puts Raleigh at the top of a very short list in the life sciences marketplace. It is the trend of converging technologies, however, that is perhaps most indicative of what the future holds. As data and research technologies merge and expand across multiple disciplines, the rate of growth for the life science sector will continue to accelerate.
Agricultural biotechnology in the Raleigh market has benefited from the combination of North Carolina’s farming heritage and the Research Triangle Park's 30-year history of cutting-edge research. Global corporations like BASF, Bayer CropScience, Monsanto and Syngenta operate major research facilities here alongside mid-sized companies and innovative start-ups, producing sustainable solutions and agricultural therapeutics to manage threats to plant health and improve crop yield.
Drug research, development and manufacturing, focused on the discovery, analysis and production of breakthrough drug therapies, is one of the largest components of the local life science cluster. Companies are able to attract talent from our abundant pool of Ph.D. and M.D. scientists. Developers with new compounds that need to test for safety and efficacy have access to world-renowned research hospitals and a large, diverse patient population, as well as a highly trained manufacturing workforce that ensures all approved products are produced according to high standards and practices.
Medical devices and diagnostics is a sector that has gained momentum during the past decade. Much of that growth has been the result of entrepreneurial initiatives cultivating the technology and talent found within the local university and research communities. Their successes have resulted in an increasing number of international companies entering the Triangle area market, generating nearly $1 billion in corporate acquisitions.
Contract research organizations (CROs) are integral to the life sciences marketplace, and the Triangle is home to more of these companies, including several North American headquarters, than any other area of the country. CROs are instrumental in managing the pharmaceutical product development cycle, and in helping drug developers, some with potentially life-saving therapies, navigate through all phases of the FDA approval process.