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Biotechnology is important to Nebraska
July 02, 2014 Dave Heineman   

Read more by Dave Heineman
The recent Bio International Convention in San Diego drew stakeholders from around the world zeroing in on issues and cutting-edge research and technologies that will impact and shape our world for decades to come.

Representatives from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED), Lincoln Chamber of Commerce, University of Nebraska, Innovation Campus, UNeMed, University Nebraska Medical Center, as well as private industry members from Benchmark Biolabs and Nature Technologies attended on behalf of Nebraska.

Modern biotechnology is being translated into breakthrough products, technologies and services that are turning crucial corners in the fight against rare and debilitating diseases and health conditions. Biotechnology is helping us feed the hungry, clean up and safeguard our energy sources, and design more efficient, safe and environmentally friendly industrial manufacturing processes.

A sampling of forums at Bio International included Biofuels and Renewable Chemicals, Personalized Medicine and Diagnostics, R/Evolution of Agriculture Technologies, Regenerative Medicine, Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics. All of these topics are woven throughout Nebraska’s goals to grow healthy, happy, productive communities.

For example, a team of University of Nebraska-Lincoln scientists recently received a four-year, $1.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to begin the next research phase toward what may ultimately result in a breakthrough vaccine for people with HIV. The number affected by this disease is now estimated at more than 35 million with 2.5 million new infections recorded yearly.

An Omaha biotech start-up company is paving the way to create a new tool that may help combat antibiotic resistance worldwide. One of its very first applications may be for treating methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureaus more commonly known as MRSA, which often leads to serious and often deadly infections. The company is working toward creation of a new drug application for animals with the ultimate goal of an application for humans.

An Omaha biomedical startup is developing technology to simplify orthopedic surgeries. The $3.2 million capital the company raised included $500,000 from Invest Nebraska Corporation, which partners with DED among other organizations.

Nebraska has enjoyed a favorable uptick of 1,000 or more jobs in the wide-ranging biotechnology field from 2007-2012 according to the Battelle/BIO State Bioscience Jobs, Investments and Innovation 2014 study.

I am proud of the fact that Nebraska was named 3rd in Biotechnology Strength Specialization Leaders, and in the Top 10 in Biotechnology Strength Emerging Biotech Hubs by Business Facilities in the past two years.

During my years as Governor, we have recognized and fully supported the ongoing need for and development of bioscience and medical technology companies by providing financial assistance in the form of the Nebraska Small Business Innovation Research Initiative, Nebraska Innovation Fund, and Nebraska Research and Development Program. Nebraska is home to approximately 106 biotechnology companies targeting Agricultural and Animal Health, Biofuels and Chemicals, Medical Devices and Equipment, Drugs and Pharmaceuticals, and Research, Testing and Medical Facilities or Laboratories.
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