Research projects could create thousands of jobs

New report predicts university-mayo biotech collaboration might reap millions of dollars

by Jenna Ross

The newly formed research partnership between the University and Mayo Clinic could create 4,000 jobs and earn $290 million annually starting in 2010, according to a report presented to House and Senate committees Tuesday.

If provided with $70 million from the state during the next five years, the Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics could boost Minnesota’s economy and increase medical breakthroughs, according to the report.

The partnership, initiated by Gov. Tim Pawlenty earlier this month, pairs University and Mayo Clinic researchers in fields such as obesity and cancer.

The report, which covered the partnership’s effects, based its predictions on the current economic environment, said Paul Umbach of Tripp Umbach Healthcare Consulting, the firm that wrote the report.

It takes into account added jobs, tax revenue and biotech spin-offs expected to result from the partnership. It also notes possible reductions in health-care costs, but does not include these benefits in its economic projections.

“If you think about it like a stone thrown in the pond, our study illustrates the first two rings of ripple,” Umbach said.

The report presents low-range, mid-range and high-range impacts of the partnership, all of which assume that the state will give the partnership $70 million over five years.

Sen. Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul, said he supports this investment.

“This money would be only a bonding effort, not money from general funding,” he said. “You’re not appropriating money for this to the exclusion of K-12 education or something.”

Frank Cerra, senior vice president for the Academic Health Center, presented the report with Umbach and Eric Wieben, director of Mayo Clinic’s Genomics Research Center.

At its steering committee meeting Thursday, Cerra said, the partnership will discuss building research space at Mayo Clinic and working on additional grant money from the National Institutes of Health.