Georgia is making strides in its biotechnology infrastructure and could contribute best practices for the development of a Southeast regional biotech community that would better attract and retain international companies, said Michael Constantino, audit partner with Ernst & Young LLP in Raleigh, N.C.

Mr. Constantino gave an overview of the global state of biotechnology during a Georgia Biomedical Partnership Inc. meeting on July 20 at the Georgia Center for Advanced Telecommunications Technology.

Georgia has a good model for integrating the efforts of businesses, research institutions and government programs to attract biotechnology firms and cultivate new biotech companies, he said.

Georgia ranks No. 8 in the world in number of biotech companies, according to Ernst & Young’s 2005 global biotechnology report, which the company has published annually for the past 19 years.

“The Southeast is interested in making economic development in biotech viable, focusing on making investment easy for foreign and local investors through venture capital incentives,” Mr. Constantino said in response to a GlobalAtlanta question following his presentation.

“Regionally, it would be beneficial to share best practices, including workplace training to attract jobs…. And create an investment climate conducive to early stage investment to help young companies get into markets,” he said.

The Georgia Biomedical Partnership, a nonprofit membership-based organization that represents the interests of life sciences companies and industry groups and organizes educational outreach and economic development activities, is one example of Georgia’s efforts.

The Georgia Research Alliance is another organization that involves companies, universities and state government working to strengthen Georgia’s biotech community, as well as other strategic industries. The alliance attracts scientists from all over the world to come to Georgia’s universities to lead research and development, creating new high-tech companies and jobs. Through the University of Georgia, Medical College of Georgia, Emory University, Clark Atlanta University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Georgia State University, the alliance supports scholars, research laboratories, national centers for research and innovation and technology transfer.

Since 1990, the alliance has invested some $400 million, which has helped to attract 50 eminent scholars, leveraged an additional $2 billion in federal and private funding, created more than 5,000 new technology jobs, generated 120 new technology companies and helped Georgia companies to expand into new markets.

Biotech has become a focus for Georgia as well as the United States generally, with venture capital investment for U.S. healthcare surpassing that of information technology for the first time in 2004, Mr. Constantino said.

Of the 4,416 biotechnology firms worldwide 1,800 of them are headquartered in Europe, 1,500 in the U.S., 700 in Asia and 500 in Canada. The industry saw a 5 percent increase from last year in the number of public companies, Mr. Constantino said.

“Biotech has achieved critical mass in the United States. The U.S. leads the industry, but emerging markets are important,” he said, noting that biotech companies are emerging in Australia and South Africa, as well as in Europe and the U.S.

Most biotech jobs, however, are in the U.S., he said, adding that of the world’s 184,000 biotech employees, two-thirds of them are in the United States. The U.S. also generates 80 percent of the biotech industry’s global revenue, which rose 17 percent this year to $55 billion worldwide.

The Georgia Biomedical Partnership hosts an annual Georgia Life Sciences Summit. This year, it is to be held on Thursday, Oct. 27, at the Georgia World Congress Center. To register, visit www.informedhorizons.com/summit2005/. For more information on Georgia’s biotech industry, visit www.gabio.org or call (404) 221-0617 or write to ga_biomed@mindspring.com