Report: Biohealth industry had $32 billion impact on Wisconsin’s economy in 2021

BioForward Wisconsin’s 2022 Industry Landscape and Economic Impact Report shows the state’s biohealth sector is growing, providing continued economic benefits during a time of uncertainty for most businesses. BioForward Wisconsin is a Madison-based advocacy group representing 220 member organizations of Wisconsin’s biohealth industry.

The biohealth industry includes companies operating in the drug and pharmaceutical, medical devices and equipment, biomedical research and testing, digital health, and bio-health related distribution categories.

BioForward Wisconsin’s report shows while the state’s private sector declined by 2.7% from 2018 through 2021, the biohealth industry grew by 10.6%. During the same period, the manufacturing sector saw a decrease of 2% in employment.

“During these core pandemic years in 2020 and 2021, most of Wisconsin’s biohealth industry continued to grow. Driving much of the gains was the biomedical research and testing subsector, which, not surprisingly in response to the pandemic, ramped up its employment base by an impressive 22%,” reads the report.

Wisconsin is also matching the overall growth rates in the national biohealth industry and has outpaced the nation in two major subsectors seeing rapid expansion—research, testing, and medical labs and drugs and pharmaceuticals. The state continues to have a highly specialized strength in medical device manufacturing.

“The growth opportunity for Wisconsin in biohealth is immense, particularly in the broader national and federal context of increasing emphasis on bolstering domestic production and supply chains as strategic priorities for critical sectors such as biopharmaceuticals and semiconductors,” according to the report.

In 2021, Wisconsin’s biohealth industry is estimated to have generated more than $19 billion in direct economic output and nearly $32 billion in total economic impact (output) from direct, indirect, and induced sources.

VC and angel investments in Wisconsin biohealth companies also reached a new high in 2021 of $191 million, an increase of 49% from the average levels of investment seen in the prior three years. Wisconsin-based institutions and organizations also received $554 million in National Institutes of Health funding in 2021, an increase of 19% since 2018.

“The report highlights the immense growth opportunity for Wisconsin’s vibrant and dynamic biohealth industry, and its role in being a crucial driver in the state’s economic growth,” said Lisa Johnson, BioForward CEO. “This strong growth, high wages, expanding career opportunities and impressive innovation in the biohealth sector are just what the state needs amidst current economic challenges and headwinds.”

Ashley covers startups, technology and manufacturing for BizTimes. She was previously the managing editor of the News Graphic and Washington County Daily News. In past reporting roles, covering education at The Waukesha Freeman, she received several WNA awards. She is a UWM graduate. In her free time, Ashley enjoys watching independent films, tackling a new recipe in the kitchen and reading a good book.

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