Florida’s Billion-Dollar Wage On Biotech More Poor Returns

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In another less-than-exciting analysis of Florida’s innovation economy, the Florida Research Consortium states the state lacks in overall number of scientists and in the amount of scientists publishing research.

“Taken as a whole, the data can be disheartening,” The report states. “Relative to other states, Florida’s research enterprise has not enjoyed the means necessary to profoundly impact the trajectory of the state’s economic performance.”

Under a plan headed by Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida taxpayers invested more than $1 billion to bring in nonprofit biotech labs to Florida. While institutes such as Scripps Florida and Max Planck Florida have recruited scientists and won federal grants, the economic prize has yet to materialize.

“Florida is outperformed on citations almost four to one when compared with peer states by size: California, Texas and New York. A lower publication level is magnified by a smaller citation rate per paper; with the mix affecting the Florida total citation count. Citation counts result from the number and quality of papers from a region, and publication counts are boosted by the number and quality of a region’s scientists.”

“Florida scientists are outmanned almost two to one. Even the best baseball teams can’t compete when missing four of nine players. In science, the competition is robust and on a important measure of scientific quality, the number of National Academy members, Florida is outdone by peers 12 to one.”

Bush thought of a biotech craze 50,000 new jobs in 15 years, demand for millions of square feet of biotech space in northern Palm Beach County, a overflow of donations from Palm Beach’s wealthy philanthropists.

While Scripps Florida met its state-required hiring goals and drives in a steady stream of research grants from the National Institutes of Health, even biotech boosters confess that there’s no indication of the private-sector boom Bush imagined.

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