I was joined this week by University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken in a recruitment visit that was part of the 2010 BIO International Convention held in Chicago.
A growing segment of our economy consists of specialized companies in the biosciences field. These are the high tech, research-driven fields producing biofuels, pharmaceuticals and vaccines for humans and animals, robotics, and testing equipment used in research labs around the world.
This trade show is the world's largest biotech gathering, highlighting new innovations, emerging biotech companies and the work of leading research institutions from across the United States and around the world. Being part of this event was an opportunity to meet with companies who have investments in our state and highlight Nebraska's strengths in bioscience to an international audience.
A study released at the trade show said employment in Nebraska's bioscience sector has grown by 19.2 percent, which outpaced national bioscience employment gains of 15.8 percent between 2001 and 2008. The study noted that Nebraska's bioscience industry paid wages that were 50 percent higher last year than the average annual wages in the private sector.
The BIO International Trade Show event was an opportunity to highlight Nebraska's investments in biotech and expand our business recruitment efforts in a field where companies are heavily invested in research and the latest innovations. Our delegation was coordinated by the Bio Nebraska Life Sciences Association. Bio Nebraska brings together leaders from private sector companies and the Nebraska Department of Economic Development together with Nebraska's academic and research institutions.
This collaborative relationship is reflected in the recipients honored in recent weeks by Bio Nebraska with the 2010 Governor's Award for Bioscience. The award is presented in honor of a partnership that brought leaders in research and academia together with the business community for a project that has been remarkably successful in advancing scientific discoveries and creating jobs here in Nebraska.
This year's honorees were two individuals who lead a joint team of business and university researchers working to develop genetics research tools. The result of the collaboration was among the world's first automated DNA sequencing systems, which was then licensed and developed as a product for the commercial testing and research market.
More than 20 years later, the work of those involved in the project is now a full line of testing and analysis equipment used in DNA research in more than 30,000 labs around the world and has created 130 technology-specific jobs in Lincoln.
Strong relationships are essential and the work of the 2010 Governor's Award for Bioscience recipients embodied both the collaboration and the innovation Bio Nebraska sought to honor in creating this award.
As we work to recruit new investments and new companies looking to expand in science-based sectors, the achievements of the scientists and researchers already at work in Nebraska are an excellent example of the potential that exists in our state.