Independant review estimates agency has created jobs and tax revenue for California

We released an independently produced economic impact study this week that showed the agency has delivered significant benefit to the state. The first $1.5 billion in committed grants is generating 38,000 job years and $286 million in new tax revenue in California through 2014 (the press release about the report is here).

CIRM’s job number one is to accelerate therapies and cures for diseases and injuries that have no therapies today or therapies that fall far short of ideal. But the voters also tasked us with helping to build California’s economy by making it the national and international hub of the burgeoning regenerative medicine industry.

When you travel around to attend scientific meetings to hear the latest advances in stem cell science, it becomes clear that most of the people in the room agree that California has indeed become the center of the field. And this is a field that is growing at a pace faster than any of us in the thick of it would have imagined even five years ago.

But this robust growth of the field as a whole in California is not captured in the very conservative economic impact report we just released. The analysis was conducted by Jose Alberro of the Berkeley Research Group and he consistently used conservative criteria to measure the impacts of CIRM’s work.

Jose used these assumptions to make his projections:

  • Used the IMPLAN model, which is widely used and respected;
  • Did not treat all CIRM grants the same with different multipliers used for training, research, construction and equipment grants;
  • Only 38 percent of equipment purchases were attributed to come from within California;
  • Used an aggregate employment multiplier of just 2.3, which is considerably lower than ones used by some other states in looking at their investments in the biotech sector.

The current report is an update of one Jose and his firm did for CIRM two years ago (both reports are available on our website). In the first report Jose went into some detail about those potential long-term impacts of CIRM that his report could not quantify. He wrote:

“Indirect on-going economic impacts stem from the fact that CIRM grants are putting California in a position of leadership in stem cell research leading to the recruitment of world-class scientists and the establishment of a biological science and biotechnology infrastructure that is likely to further attract venture capital investment in research and start-up firms.”

Although we hear many anecdotes about companies and academic institutions that have expanded their footprint in this field because of the intellectual and facility infrastructure created by CIRM, we can’t put a number on it. We have surveyed our academic grantees and verified that more than 130 faculty level stem cell scientists have moved to California from other states and other countries since our first grants went out in 2006.

While this impact is important to us at CIRM, it is secondary to the more tangible evidence of advances toward therapies that we see everyday as our grantees publish new discoveries. Our board chair Jonathan Thomas summed up our dual role in a quote in our press release:

“CIRM’s commitment to the voters of California is two fold: to accelerate the development of new therapies for a range of serious conditions, and to give a boost to the state’s economy. This report shows we have delivered for the economy. For patients, we have a significant portfolio of projects that have fostered clinical trials already or expect clinical trials to begin within a year or two. Those projects show the great potential for delivering on our commitment to therapies as well the economy.”


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