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Can Pittsburgh Compete In The Biotech Industry?

Pittsburgh is home to several biotech companies, who arrived during the transition from a manufacturing to technology-based economy.

Once upon a time, Pittsburgh rose and fell as one of the largest manufacturing cities in the nation with the growth and collapse of the steel industry.  Decades later, an influx of healthcare and higher education jobs has helped Pittsburgh make the transition from a manufacturing city to an up and coming technological powerhouse. 

Christian Manders, CEO of Promethean LifeScience, Inc., says this surge in interest in the life science sectors is driving the modern Pittsburgh economy. 

“If you look at statistics with employment in the region, it’s already there.  It’s already happening with ‘eds and meds’, education and medicine.”

With Pittsburgh as one of the largest centers for transplant medicine in the world, along with the research centers and computer science talent from Carnegie Mellon, the steel city has a serious chance of competing with cities like Philadelphia and Boston in the biotechnology marketplace.

Educating young minds in life sciences fields will also prove to be imperative in the growth of Pittsburgh in biotechnology according to Manders.  This is especially true when it comes to educating women and minorities.

When asked about the issue of diversity in the field of biotechnology, Manders admitted on Essential Pittsburgh, “We could do a better job, unfortunately.”

Though lack of diversity is a prominent issue in the field as a whole, Pittsburgh has shown that involving women and minorities has become a high priority.  Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy, a program through Pittsburgh Public Schools, focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programs.

The Citizen Science Lab in the Lower Hill also gives young students the opportunity to be educated in the health science field.  Lab facilities are available for students who pay a monthly fee as they broaden their interest in biotech. 

Manders said there is a growing number of minorities involved in biotech research, but not as many on the entrepreneurial side of the industry.  Part of the process of encouraging diversity in the field is giving support and helping these researchers cross over to the entrepreneurial side of the industry.

“There are a lot of key groups that will help support entrepreneurs, but we gotta keep fighting the good fight.”  

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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