WBBA’s 2010 STATE POLICY PRIORITIES
The Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association (WBBA) is the state's leading advocate for advancing the life sciences in Washington State. The WBBA mission is: Innovation to Realization… supporting breakthrough discoveries that create better health solutions. We accomplish this mission through advocacy, enterprise support and the enhancement of research collaboration. By partnering with member organizations, we will provide better health solutions in multiple ways.
- Innovation – working closely and supporting our research institutions, inventors and entrepreneurs to broaden the impact of breakthrough discoveries.
- Capital – facilitating access to capital, especially early stage funding.
- Talent – helping to recruit, train and retain the talent needed to grow life sciences in Washington.
- Environment – ensuring that Washington is a great place to start, grow and retain the organizations needed to remain competitive and prosperous.
Washington state is fortunate to have a dynamic technology industry sector that benefits from vibrant global demand for its output and which helps drive the Washington state economy. Our state is uniquely positioned to shape its future success in life sciences. Washington must leverage its potential and actively work to create and ensure a supportive environment that enables entrepreneurial people and companies to convert their innovative ideas into marketable new products and services.
Recommendation: Washington should establish a commercialization and innovation position within state government to promote and grow innovation and commercialization in life sciences.
In 2010, WBBA will work to:
- Advocate for this position,
- Educate the legislature about the current economic impact of the life sciences and the potential to grow here in Washington, and,
- Establish metrics to measure the results and communicate those results to the Governor and the legislature.
Early Stage Funding
Availability of early stage funding remains a challenge to the life sciences in Washington state. The life sciences operate on a different model than the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector. The path to market is long, highly regulated and costly. Despite a handful of programs in the state that help fund early stage development, there remain gaps in the early stage funding for the translation of early research to commercialization. The majority of venture capital in the life sciences targets later stages of development. The well-documented “valley of death” is where many companies falter. The Life Sciences Discovery Fund grantees have had considerable success in leveraging the LSDF grants. A goal of the LSDF is greater company involvement in receiving LSDF funds.
We encourage the legislature and the LSDF to find ways to encourage and achieve greater involvement in early stage companies.
In 2010, WBBA will:
- Advocate for restoring and maintaining sustained investment to support the Life Sciences Discovery Fund and
- Advocate for the LSDF to have greater involvement with companies.
Favorable Business Climate
Washington State needs to retain and recruit life science companies to the state through creating a favorable business climate for the sector. Legislation that jeopardizes confidential trade secrets and proprietary practices or otherwise increases the cost of doing business in Washington can drive companies to other states. In the past, legislation imposing marketing restrictions and limiting access to prescriber data has been proposed but has not passed. If passed, these laws would have a highly negative impact on the State’s life science companies researching and developing diagnostics and therapies for better health solutions.
In 2010 WBBA will:
- Outline the impact of legislation that imposes unnecessary marketing, waste disposal or other economically burdensome requirements.
Even in light of the unprecedented and ongoing budget difficulties facing Washington state this year, the state must continue supportive tax polices to retain and help grow life science businesses.
In 2010, WBBA will:
- Work with partner organizations to make permanent state tax incentives for R&D and advanced/high tech manufacturing, and
- Work with partner organizations to recommend additional supportive tax policies:
- Grant tax credits to companies who invest as a qualified investor in the first $1.5M that a start-up company raises.
- Provide tax credits for keeping a company in state when raising B or C funding.
- Monitor other tax issues that arise.
Education and Workforce Development
Washington’s academic institutions suffered major budget cuts and more may be coming. These cuts threaten their ability to provide an educated workforce for Washington’s life sciences industry. Washington ranks fourth among the 50 states in the number of individuals working in science and engineering occupations. However, most of these life science workers are imported from other states. This is an issue of great importance to many legislators and to the ongoing viability of the industry in Washington.
In 2010, WBBA will:
- Work with our partners in education to educate policy makers on the implications of budget cuts on higher education;
- Work with our partners to educate legislators on research and education challenges facing our state; and
- Effectively communicate the role that industry plays in providing high quality, well paying jobs in Washington state.
Adopted by WBBA Board of Directors, December 9, 2009