Economic impact of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Biocorridor: The future is bright
In 2013, Forbes named Bryan-College Station the fifth best small U.S. city for business and careers – number one in Texas. The home of Texas A&M University, the oldest public institution of higher learning in the state and world leader in teaching and research, it’s no surprise the region has ranked in the top 10 on the Forbes’ small places list for three straight years.
“The region has experienced explosive growth recently as so many sectors see the Brazos Valley as an ideal place for development,” said Brett Giroir, M.D., interim executive vice president and CEO of Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC). “Catalyzed by the potential at Texas A&M, numerous sectors are attracted to the Brazos Valley as an ideal place for expansion and relocation.”
Giroir, one of the masterminds behind the creation of Bryan-College Station as a biotechnology mecca, saw the potential of an area rich with leading innovators at the health science center and the university, and an outstanding workforce pool comprised of Texas A&M graduates. Giroir’s early vision – born from experience gained during tenure at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), where he ran the Defense Sciences Office – is now becoming a reality.
“At DARPA, it was very clear from the early 2000s that the nation needed to undergo a real revolution designed to make pharmaceutical development faster, more efficient and highly cost effective,” Giroir said. “This revolution would ultimately have profound implications for the whole pharmaceutical industry, and most importantly for patients in need of life saving new therapies. I knew that Texas A&M could uniquely provide solutions.”
Today, Bryan-College Station serves as the epicenter of Texas’ emerging biotech industry and is home to academic and industrial leaders whose discoveries are paving the way for developing the next generation of life-saving products in the medical device, drug and therapeutic industries.
Attracted to promising innovation and translation initiatives as well as burgeoning commercialization projects underway at TAMHSC and across the entire A&M System, a number of research and industry partners including Kalon Biotherapeutics, Caliber Biotherapeutics, Woodbolt International and G-CON, LLC., are now ideally positioned along the Texas A&M Health Science Center Biocorridor – an area of land anchored by the TAMHSC Bryan campus near the intersection of Highway 60 and Highway 47.
The most significant accelerator of the biocorridor vision is the new national biosecurity center led by the Texas A&M Health Science Center. Founded on an initial $285.6 million public-private partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Texas A&M Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing (CIADM) is bringing international acclaim to the region. Designed to enhance the nation’s preparedness and response against emerging infectious diseases, the center is expected to have a $42 billion impact on the state of Texas and will lead to the creation of an estimated 6,000 jobs over its 25-year term.
In 2011, the university built the National Center for Therapeutics Manufacturing (NCTM), a first-of-its-kind, multidisciplinary workforce education institution and biopharmaceutical manufacturing center that now serves as one of three main regional facilities within the CIADM. One key factor in executing that vision is sustaining biotech industry growth along the biocorridor. To do so, the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, in collaboration with Texas A&M and Blinn College, provides current and next-generation education, training and outreach programs to produce a highly skilled pharmaceutical workforce from within the Brazos Valley.
“We have strategic plans in place and have curriculum being developed from the high school level to associates degree, certificate programs, undergraduate and graduate programs to supply an efficient, trained workforce to support growth along the biocorridor,” Giroir said.
Future plans for CIADM development include an approximately 80,000 square foot influenza-vaccine manufacturing facility within the biocorridor, developed with partners GlaxoSmithKline and Kalon Biotherapeutics, that will be able to supply 50 million doses of pandemic influenza vaccine within four months of an outbreak.
“Through accelerated growth of new biotechnology companies and relocation of existing companies to Bryan-College Station, the economic outlook of the biocorridor, and Bryan-College Station, is extremely bright,” Giroir said. “As a citizen, I’m excited about the forthcoming opportunities and growth in the region. We have already seen a wide diversification of companies wanting to bring their businesses to the community, and I know there are exciting things on the horizon.”