Message from the Executive Director – Dec. 2023

Seasons greetings! The Oregon Bio staff extends our best wishes for the holiday season and the upcoming year. We never cease to be inspired by you – our members – and your persistent drive for innovation. Your energy and dedication motivate our efforts to advocate and support bioscience in Oregon and Southwest Washington. As we transition into 2024, here are some key highlights.

2024 heralds a major expansion in workforce development

Recently the Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC) awarded Oregon Bio a $2.1M Future Ready Oregon Workforce Ready grant. With this, we will implement the Access Bio apprenticeship program, an industry-led effort to recruit, train, and retain individuals in bioscience manufacturing, focusing on serving Oregon’s historically underserved and underrepresented communities.

Oregon Bio used funding from an earlier award – a BOLI Future Ready Oregon Capacity Grant – to develop the proposed workforce development program that landed our $2.1M grant. And as of last week, our two proposed occupations are now officially registered apprenticeships. More details are below and you can expect to hear much more throughout the coming year.

The Access Bio apprenticeship program complements our existing Bio Pro professional workforce training program, broadening how we support our industry in this area. Speaking of BioPro, check out the column by BioPro instructor Jeff Oltmann, also included in this newsletter.

Advocacy efforts will continue to focus on R&D & tax structure

In 2024, Oregon Bio will continue to advocate for restored R&D (Research & Development) tax credits on both the federal and state levels.

At the federal level, code changes (I.R.C. §174) starting in the 2022 tax year require R&D expenses to be capitalized. For example, in the first year, an SBIR-funded company must pay taxes on 90% of the income it receives from federal grants, delaying the rest of the deduction into future years – a significant financial burden. This will be the first time since 1954 that companies will have to amortize their R&D costs, rather than immediately deduct those expenses. These changes were included in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act; however, they did not take full effect until 2022. The potential economic costs are significant; for example, Ernest and Young estimates a loss of nearly $300M in Oregon’s R&D-related wages if I.R.C. §174 is not fixed. Oregon Bio, in partnership with BIO and AdvaMed, will continue to press for relief.

At the state level, in Oregon, we will continue to advocate for the restoration or replacement of R&D tax credits that expired in 2017. While new R&D tax credits for semiconductor research recently passed, Oregon Bio is advocating for wider credits that benefit the broader innovation ecosystem – including bioscience.

In spite of the short 2024 legislative sessions in both Oregon and Washington, we have a full slate of priorities (beyond tax credits) at both the state and federal levels. If you would like to learn more, contact me about getting involved in our standing Government Affairs and Advocacy Committee (GAAC) or joining one of our D.C. legislative fly-ins in March or April.

A new website with member-only amenities

The transfer of many of our operational processes to an upgraded Association Management System (AMS) is currently underway. After this migration is complete, we’ll be launching a new website with a member portal accessible by user credentials. Soon Oregon Bio members will be able to manage many details of their own accounts, including company descriptions, updating contacts, and uploading company logos. This portal will also access a growing library of member-only content.

On the back end, our new AMS will help us manage our members’ accounts more efficiently as different components of our operations will be better integrated, freeing up resources to support our members in other ways.

2024 events: connecting with relevance

Events are central to our mission here at Oregon Bio. The connections made or strengthened at our networking functions are not only valuable for entrepreneurial success; they are also critical in nurturing a bioscience community whose members can serve as ambassadors for our industry. The more we are connected, the greater our impact when representing our industry to policymakers, investors and other key stakeholders.

We also endeavor to bring members relevant and timely programming. Earlier this year, with AI dominating daily headlines, we welcomed two top Absci scientists to speak at Bio on the Rocks in Portland, who expanded on the company’s ambitions in deploying generative AI and the evolving relationship between computing and research labs. During the following months, this conversation continued to inform and provide context as Absci announced major partnerships and research collaborations with AstraZeneca, Almirall, Caltech, Kennedy Institute, and other parties.

At Bio on the High Desert in Bend, we invited Bend Bioscience to speak about their new venture. During our summer edition of Bio on Tap in Portland, we examined AI and its impact on intellectual property. Expert panelists joined Miller Nash for a discussion on the potential risks AI presents for bioscience concerns and what mitigations might be considered – whether related to a start-up or a later-stage company.

Looking ahead to 2024, stay tuned as Oregon Bio explores the potential for microfluidics to advance our region’s bioscience infrastructure. Our next Bio in the Valley will feature the vision of the newly U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)-designated Tech Hub – CorMic (short for Corvallis Microfluidics) – and the plans to make the region a global leader in microfluidics. It’s estimated that the microfluidic dispense market for the biotechnology will be $6 billion by the year 2028.

Next year we’ll also reprise our Bend and Portland “Bio On” events. Our 2024 Annual Conference will build on this year’s Summit at Twist Bioscience (read more on our blog about the legislator tour, industry panel, and Innovation Showcase pitch challenge). With planned webinars and smaller scale functions designed to engage members throughout the region, 2024 is shaping up to be a very active year events-wise.

Last but not least, the Oregon Pavilion will return to the BIO International Convention held June 3-6, 2024, in San Diego. We’ll have a larger booth with additional opportunities for our members to participate on many levels, including full access to BIO’s One-on-One Partnering™ system (contact Julie Black for details).

Updated strategic plan

Of course, there are many more facets to what we do at Oregon Bio. In September 2023, the Oregon Bio board of directors and invited leaders gathered for a strategic summit. We pitched and probed initiatives in advocacy , communications, economic development, education and workforce, financial sustainability, and member engagement. In 2024 we’ll take this work and incorporate it into an updated strategic plan for our association.

– Liisa Bozinovic, Executive Director, Oregon Bio

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