Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The startling failure of Florida's attempt to buy a biotech industry

In 2003, the renowned fiscally conservative governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, went on a biotech spending spree. Then-governor Bush spent ~$1.5 billion to entice a motley crew of research institutes into opening franchises around the state. Most prominently, a Florida branch of the Scripps Research Institute was opened in Jupiter. The researchers were promised lavish funding, Florida tax-payers were promised suspiciously precise numbers of "jobs created". More than a decade later, Scripps Florida is still clinging on, lonely between a golf club and a strip mall. Other research centers were opened in similarly isolated locations and have since died (or are in the process of dying). The Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies has been defunded because it "failed to meet job-creation targets". The Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute in Port St. Lucie has not only closed, but is being sued and even had a police investigation into trashed documents. The Burnham Institute in Orlando is being pursued by the state of Florida for $80 million, again for not "creating" enough jobs. The lone exception to this pattern of failure seems to be an independently thriving research & biotech scene around the University of Florida in Gainesville.

The Research Centers:


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