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Governor Rendell Says Life Science Industry Will Fuel New Breakthroughs, Generate Jobs for Decades to Come
Date:12/15/2008

Encourages Forum Attendees to Keep up Fight, Restore U.S.'s Leadership

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --Pennsylvania's commitment to developing and diversifying its biotechnology business sector has helped it to weather the economic downturn and set the stage for future opportunity and innovation, Governor Edward G. Rendell said today.

"In Pennsylvania, we recognize the economic potential of an innovation economy, and we are working hard to take advantage of our wealth of academic and research institutions and medical start-ups as an engine of job creation and economic development," Governor Rendell said today during a Best and Brightest forum here.

"We purposefully pinpointed the life sciences industry to be a key piece in Pennsylvania's strategic and economic growth. Our programs are directing support and funding for companies to expand, create jobs, and retain talented Pennsylvanians.

"We cannot give up on our efforts because the world looks to the United States to help it beat back famine and disease. The greatest scientists study here. Our commitment to medical innovation must continue," he said.

The Best and Brightest forums, being held around the country, focus on medical innovation and promote the critical need for the United States to maintain its status as a global leader in this area.

Governor Rendell said Pennsylvania was the only state to dedicate all of its tobacco settlement funds to health-related programs, making a multi-year commitment of $2 billion to the life sciences.

For example, the Life Sciences Greenhouse Initiative was created as part of a larger plan to ensure continued growth in the biosciences in Pennsylvania. In addition, more than $500 million in venture capital investment went to biotechnology, medical device and equipment companies. These venture capital investments have placed Pennsylvania number three in employment by venture capital-backed companies, according to The National Venture Capital Association.

"Through 2007, our life sciences greenhouses received more than 800 applications requesting nearly $315 million. Today, there are more requests for funding than is available," the Governor said. "Additional funding and support to entrepreneurs, especially in the early stage, is critical to ensuring that Pennsylvania remains on the forefront of medical innovation.

"These investments are not only creating jobs and leveraging dollars for the commonwealth, they are fueling our talented researchers with the support they need to develop the next big medical innovation that will improve the lives of millions of people around the globe," Governor Rendell said.

As an example, the Governor said Neuronetics Inc., a privately held medical device company based in Malvern, Chester County, recently won U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for a breakthrough treatment that will help thousands of people who suffer from depression. NeuroStar TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) therapy system is the first and only non-systemic and non-invasive treatment cleared for patients who have not benefited from prior antidepressant treatment.

Neuronetics is a portfolio company of Quaker BioVentures -- one of the four private venture firms selected by the Tobacco Settlement Investment Board to manage and leverage $60 million. According to the TSIB 06-07 annual report, Quaker's return on investment is 26-to-1.

Pennsylvania is number one in the nation in biosciences, according to a study by Business Facilities magazine. The study cited "the diversity and depth of Pennsylvania's initiatives" in giving it its top ranking. It used more than 20 criteria to develop its list, including the amount of state research and development funding and venture capital investments, the level of concentrated occupational employment in biotech; and tax exemptions and university grant funding.

"We need to do even more to spur medical innovation in order to deliver solutions to our national health care challenge and -- most importantly -- make a difference in the lives of Americans who are depending on our ability to lead the world in innovation for their very health," the Governor said.

For more information on Pennsylvania's bioscience initiatives or other DCED programs, visit www.newpa.com or call 1-866-466-3972.

The Rendell administration is committed to creating a first-rate public education system, protecting our most vulnerable citizens and continuing economic investment to support our communities and businesses.To find out more about Governor Rendell's initiatives and to sign up for his weekly newsletter, visit www.governor.state.pa.us.

    CONTACT:
    Michael Smith
    717-783-1116

    Jamie Fulginiti (DCED)
    717-783-1132


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SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of the Governor
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