Known for decades as a manufacturing state, Ohio is positioning itself to emerge from the recession as an innovative leader in the jobs market. A recent Forbes article ranked Columbus, Ohio third in the nation for technology jobs with very optimistic outlooks for other major Ohio cities. The magazine credits the fact that Columbus and the other top contenders are home to major research universities.

Another contributing factor is the commitment Ohio has made to the state’s bioscience industry. A decision made more than a decade ago that is making an impact locally, nationally and globally.

The bioscience industry is Ohio’s fastest-growing industry, according to Anthony Dennis, president and CEO of BioOhio, the state’s economic development agency for biosciences.

Every year, our bioscience companies and research institutions create jobs, export products and services, and deliver game-changing treatments to the marketplace and, most importantly, to patients.“he stated.

That success is spilling over into Ohio universities with the number of bioscience undergraduates on the rise. Its vast number of higher education opportunities bolsters Ohio’s bioscience strength. Two-year, four-year, graduate and advanced degree programs produce an education and workforce pipeline necessary to build a bioscience organization, and to grow Ohio’s bioscience industry into an international leader.

Each day, Ohio bioscience organizations contribute to technological advances benefiting the health and well-being of Ohioans, Americans and the citizens of the world. Emerging in the Columbus area recently were Ohio State University spinout company Nanofiber Solutions and Scotland-based advanced prosthetics maker Touch Bionics. Both companies have made global headlines with their innovative advances. In November 2011,

Nanofiber Solutions played a key role in the world’s second successful synthetic trachea transplant. The Columbus firm designed and built the nanofiber tracheal scaffold in which a cancer patient’s own stem cells were grown before the transplantation on November 17th in Stockholm. 

The bioscience sector is relatively small compared to other sectors in Ohio, but it is continuously growing. Currently more than 1,345 bioscience firms operate at 1,800 locations in Ohio, up from 1,115 firms operating 1,290 locations in 2000. Bioscience companies with operations in Ohio range from innovative start-ups supported by biotech incubators to emerging stars — like Meridian Bioscience, Atricure, Diagnostic Hybrids and Ganeden Biotech — to some of the largest corporations in the world — like Cardinal Health, P&G, Boehringer-Ingelheim and Abbott. Bioscience employment in Ohio has grown 19.5% since 2000, in contrast to a decline of 8.6% in total employment in Ohio.

Also increasing are the number of specialized graduates. According to BioOhio, in 2010, Ohio institutions awarded 8,088 bioscience related degrees, up 395 from the previous year. Comparing 2010 to 2006, the number of earned degrees has increased by nearly 26%. This is good news for growing bioscience companies already in Ohio as well as those outside of Ohio looking for fertile ground to expand. Educated and abundant talent is in Ohio, and ready to work.

Abundant access to capital through private sources and state programs such as Ohio Third Frontier is another factor fueling growth of Ohio’s biomedical science industry. Between January 2002 and June 2010, over $ 650 million of Ohio Third Frontier funds were competitively awarded to support bioscience-related development and commercialization initiatives. In May 2010, Ohioans voted to extend the Ohio Third Frontier with an additional $ 700 million over four years starting in 2012. 

Bioscience companies located in Ohio also benefit from the state’s central location supported by a world-class logistics infrastructure, easy access to markets and supply chains, a highly skilled workforce, and public/private sector leadership committed to business and policy innovation across diverse economic sectors.