CHICAGO – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich officially welcomed the world to Chicago today for BIO 2006, which is the first time that this prestigious international life sciences conference is being held in the Midwest. The conference, which runs through April 12th, is a unique opportunity for Illinois to showcase its growing biotech business to the more than 20,000 people and 2,500 biotech organizations attending from across the U.S. and 60 countries. The annual BIO convention is the industry's largest gathering of researchers, major international and domestic biotech corporations, start-ups, regulators and investors. Illinois is already home to nearly 60,000 employees at more than 1,100 biotech firms. Business Facilities Magazine rated Illinois the top state in the nation for biotech growth in 2005.
“Scientists are using biotechnology to try and find solutions to everything from cancer and Alzheimer’s to safer food for our children. This research is cleaning our air and fighting crime. We are also putting science to work in Illinois by taking discoveries and turning them into new companies, marketable products and high-paying, high-tech Illinois jobs. Our state has been recognized as a national leader in this emerging science, and BIO 2006 is going to help us achieve things we haven’t even thought of yet. This is a rare opportunity to import ideas, create companies and jobs in Illinois that will leave a lasting impact on our state long after our guests go home on April 12th,” Gov. Blagojevich said.
“We chose to hold this meeting in Chicago to showcase the convergence of all applications of biotechnology, from health to agriculture to industrial. This is an opportunity for Chicago, Illinois, and the greater Midwest to really put themselves on the map as a biotech hub to the 60 countries and 50 states who will be represented at the convention,” BIO President Jim Greenwood said. “This conference has the potential to generate tens of millions of dollars of revenue for the state and region in collaborations and investments in regional biotech companies. With clean technologies and higher than average wages, the biotechnology industry is a highly desirable driver of economic development."
“As the region’s largest global life sciences company, we know that the biotech industry is strongly influenced by the science that happens right here in Illinois,” said Miles D. White, chairman and chief executive officer, Abbott, and Co-Chair of BIO 2006. “This meeting allows us the opportunity to shine not only for our neighbors locally, but for the rest of the world.”
At BIO 2006, Illinois is demonstrating that it is Putting Science to Work – the theme of this year’s Illinois Pavilion – by emphasizing the state’s unmatched university and research institutions, world-class infrastructure, diversified workforce, aggressive government support and its innovative Illinois companies. The State of Illinois, in partnership with the City of Chicago, has a 6,400 square foot Pavilion, one of the largest and most prominent spaces at the convention, which has the latest innovations in biotech, while highlighting Illinois’ unique and dynamic blend of all the biotech sectors. More than 40 Illinois companies, organizations and institutions are on display.
Illinois is also showcasing its world-class universities and research institutions like the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, Argonne National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Institute for Genomic Biology, the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research, University Technology Park at Illinois Institute of Technology and the Illinois Medical District.
Multi-billion dollar Illinois medical companies, including Abbott Laboratories, Baxter Labs and Dade-Behring, are giants who are setting industry standards for excellence in the biotech field.
Over the past three years, Gov. Blagojevich has been making the investments that are growing biotech in Illinois:
1.) Illinois became the first Midwest state and only the fourth state in the nation to commit public funds to stem cell research. The Governor is investing $10 million in stem cell research and is proposing to invest another $100 million.
2.) Illinois has worked to promote the use of alternative fuels like E-85 and biodiesel.
Became the first state to completely eliminate the state sales tax on E-85 and biodiesel blends of 11 percent and higher (“B11”), dramatically increasing E-85 sales and creating the largest biodisel market in the nation.
Provided more than $1.5 million to the National Corn to Ethanol Research Center at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville that is pioneering biofuels research.
Invested $500,000 to increase access to E-85 and allow more gas station operators to offer the 85 percent ethanol fuel. Since 2004, the number of E-85 retail sales locations has increased from 14 to about 100, which is about 20 percent of the entire nation’s E-85 stations.
Provided $4.8 million to the Lincolnland Agri-Energy Ethanol plant in Palestine, which is now producing more than 40 million gallons of ethanol per year.
3.) Helping leading biotech companies move to and expand in Illinois. Gov. Blagojevich has partnered with Astellas Pharma, Hospira and Takeda Pharmaceuticals to expand or relocate their headquarters, which is helping to create and retain more than 1,300 jobs.
4.) Investing to Improve Illinois’ Biotech Infrastructure:
$1 million for the Illinois Science + Technology Park, a 1.5 million square foot campus to commercialize scientific research in Skokie. The multi-tenant Park is expected to create 3,250 new jobs on-site, more than 10,000 ripple-effect jobs and 1,000 construction jobs. Upon completion, the campus will generate $1.8 billion annually in statewide economic activity, according to a study conducted by Applied Real Estate Analysis, Inc.
$4.5 million to help launch the Peoria NEXT Innovation Center to nurture start-ups in the fields on nanotechnology, bio-science, health care and agriculture. It is expected to accommodate up to 20 firms and create more than 200 jobs in three years and up to 1,200 jobs over the next eight years as these companies grow.
$1.6 million for the new Biotechnology Laboratory Incubator at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville that will soon house as many as twelve biology, chemistry or biochemical laboratories.
This cutting-edge science has already led to a number of innovations, including:
Treating and curing disease. There are more than 300 biotech drug products and vaccines in clinical trials targeting more than 200 diseases, including various cancers, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and arthritis.
Creating a safer food supply. Biotech foods, such as corn and tomatoes, reduce our dependence on chemical pesticides and herbicides, while improving our food supply.
Helping farmers prosper. Herbicide-resistant biotech crops can save farmers millions annually in labor and fuel costs while improving yields.
Developing new, improved ways to produce energy. Biotech processes convert soybeans into environmentally-friendly fuel for diesel engines and transform corn into ethanol for a cost-competitive gasoline (E-85), which supports rural economic development and lessens our dependence on imported oil.
Preventing terrorism and fighting crime. DNA fingerprinting has dramatically improved criminal investigation and forensic medicine.
“Today, Illinois is a true biotech hotbed and a great place to do business. We are home to a diverse and highly-skilled workforce, internationally renowned research institutions, unmatched infrastructure and a pro-growth businesses environment. Over the past three years, Gov. Blagojevich has helped build tremendous momentum throughout our biotech industry, and, by bringing BIO 2006 to Chicago, that progress will intensify as our companies and entrepreneurs gain access to national and international opportunities. This conference is going to have a lasting legacy, and put more people to work across Illinois, for years to come,” Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Director Jack Lavin said.
“Agriculture is experiencing incredible change through scientific advancements,” Illinois Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke said. “Thanks to biotechnology, our farmers are growing more crops on less acreage than ever before. Without new or larger markets, this increased production is unsustainable. That’s why Gov. Blagojevich has expanded consumption of alternative fuels and invested in businesses that create new uses for our farm products – to build demand for our agricultural production, to spur innovation and to enable farmers to reap the benefits of biotechnology.”