Biotechnology & Bioscience
Maine has developed distinct knowledge and skills bases in genetics/genomics and the development of commercially successful products in the diagnostics markets based on knowledge of antibodies and related biochemistry/biology fields. The large and growing volume of industry research indicates future growth.
Maine’s Biotechnology cluster has three distinct sub-clusters:
Biopharmaceuticals draws upon the state’s significant base of technology focus on biologics and biotechnology as well as pharmaceutical formulation and drug product formulation. Business concerns also drive the development and use of sophisticated drug delivery systems. Formulation is viewed as a data driven science and this creates linkages with Maine’s information technology sector. This sector has seen employment growth and future prospects are positive. Two of Maine’s top-fifty private employers, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. and Jackson Laboratory are the dynamic drivers of this cluster.
This sector is still in its infancy in Maine but has had successes with electromechanical components and systems and fluid handling and filtering technologies. Enercon Technologies, Fluid Imaging Technologies, and FHC are catalysts for growth in this sector. GVS Life Sciences (formerly Maine Manufacturing, LLC) products serve the life sciences, environmental monitoring and industrial filtration markets. Development activity should multiply as Maine connects with the medical devices industry sectors in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
The University of Maine’s Forest Bioproducts Research Institute is recognized as a leader in the research of chemistry and organic compounds for biofuels. Thermal Deoxygenation (TDO) is wholly unique to the university and appears to be the most promising revolution in drop-in biofuel research nationwide.
The keys to growing and strengthening these clusters include: continuing to support expansion of research and development in the biomedical sciences; expanding the workforce, particularly those with graduate training; supporting creation of new biotech firms; and linking to networks and alliances with major biotech firms for financing and product development.
Maine has a specialized employment concentration in the research, testing, and medical laboratories subsector and has exhibited faster-than- average growth in the drugs and pharmaceuticals and medical devices and equipment subsectors. The Foundation for Blood Research is a leader in finding more effective ways to identify, manage, and prevent human disease through clinical and laboratory investigation, epidemiology, outreach science education, computer-based analysis, public health program design, and clinical testing. The largest share of academic bioscience research expenditures have been in agricultural sciences, followed by biological sciences.
Advances in the Human Genome Project are having a major impact on molecular-based diagnostics and genomics. NorDx offers a broad selection of tests and Maine Molecular Quality Controls (MMQCI) designs and markets molecular controls for use in inherited disease testing, infectious disease detection, and pharmacogenetics.
Multiple Maine biomedical research institutions have joined together to create a new Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering. The School is a collaboration of the University of Maine, Jackson Laboratory, Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, and the University of New England. The School offers a doctoral degree in biomedical sciences with concentrations in molecular and cellular biology, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, and toxicology. An interdisciplinary doctoral degree in functional genomics is also offered. The Maine Technology Institute continues to provide early-stage capital and commercialization assistance to technology-based projects in key industry clusters, including the biosciences.
IDEXX Laboratories continues to expand with revenues increasing steadily since 2007. IDEXX is the global market leader in diagnostics and information technology solutions for pet health care providers worldwide. Lonza's Maine facility manufactures over 500 finished products and continues to develop custom and innovative products for life-science research and personal care markets. This site is also the largest manufacturer of agarose powder worldwide.