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State lawmakers announce new 'Life Science Caucus'

Joe Irizarry
Delaware Public Media

A bipartisan group of Delaware lawmakers is creating a new caucus devoted to the First State’s growing science sector. 

State officials announced the creation of the Life Science Caucus Monday to address issues in industries like biopharmaceuticals and gene-editing in Delaware’s General Assembly. 

The caucus will work with the Delaware Prosperity Partnership and the state’s private sector with the goal of offering incentives and facilitating tech-based economic development.

State Rep. Mike Ramone (R-21) says he thinks it’s a good strategy, given Delaware’s small size, that it should try to cater to a particular niche business sector for growth and expansion.  

“I think that this bio-sector niche and what we can do in Delaware—developing partnerships with the universities and the business sector—we could be a sweet spot for this,” said Ramone.     

Delaware’s life and bioscience industries already generate billions each year in economic output. They employ more than 8,000 people. The industry’s average salary is more than $100,000.

It also pulls in millions of dollars in both public and private research grants—those grants totaled more than $400 million in 2019. 

State Rep. Jeff Spiegelman (R-11) says bolstering science businesses in Delaware could help make up lost ground in other sectors like banking.

“It’s not just a matter of creating jobs and creating prosperity, it’s also a matter of creating sectors. It’s one thing to create a job here and there. It’s another thing to be a state known for a certain sector,” Spiegelman said.     

Delaware bioscience companies and other groups include the likes of Incyte, NIIMBL, AstraZennica, ILC Dover and Gore.

“We have here in Delaware the intelligence and we have the infrastructure,” said Rep. Krista Griffith (D-12). “I think the question is how do we improve that to make sure that the jobs we have, we retain. And how do we recruit more jobs?”

The new caucus plans to have policy recommendations by July.