Governor Tom Vilsack says he is “showcasing” Iowa to international visitors at the BIO conference underway in San Francisco. A new report issued at the conference shows Iowa doing better than other states in the race for biotech firms. Vilsack says when it comes to biotech development, Iowa’s growing at a rate faster than the national average. Vilsack says the report, issued by a firm called Battelle, notes Iowa’s gained in ethanol and soydiesel production as well as lubricants that are partially derived from food fiber rather than petroleum. But the report does point to some weaknesses in Iowa standing in the way high-tech development. Chief among the low-points is a lack of money for startup companies and a lack of research funding at the state’s universities. Vilsack says steps are being taken to address the issue. For example, the state’s insurance industry was “encouraged” to provide venture capital to startup biotech companies in return for a new state premium tax break. Vilsack says new state spending plans call for improvements at lab facilities at the state universities. All 50 states have representatives courting the biotechnology industry at the annual BIO conference. There are 20 exhibits from Iowa at the BIO conference.Iowa will host the closing reception at the BIO conference. It’ll be held at the San Francisco Giants baseball park. Visitors will have free access to the field and the dugouts.
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