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Growing Life Sciences

New Evergreen Bioscience Innovation Cluster Creates Opportunity for Growth

By Katrina Rogers, Evergreen Bioscience Innovation

Katrina Rogers

After more than a year of effort, the Washington State Department of Commerce awarded a $500,000 grant to Greater Spokane Inc. to create the Evergreen Bioscience Innovation Cluster. To secure the grant, GSI worked with its partners at SP3NW and a host of other folks. The funding came through the Innovation Cluster Acceleration Program (ICAP), which identified nine innovation clusters across Washington State.

A modern innovation cluster is an industry-led organization including members from five different economic sectors (entrepreneur, capital, corporate/industry, government, and academe.)  The mission of Evergreen Bioscience focuses on life science contract services. Pharmaceutical and medical device companies use contract services throughout their supply chain to meet milestones in a capital-efficient manner. There are gaps and limited capacity in this supply chain in the region of Spokane, across the nation, and around the world. Evergreen Bioscience Innovation will fill an ecosystem-level business development role for contract services in life science discovery, development, and manufacturing. We aim to help our industry fill these gaps and bring economic growth to our region.

In many ways, Evergreen Bioscience is the culmination of a decades-long effort by the community, much of it led by GSI. It started with Momentum 87, which sought to develop an education hub and reinvigorate downtown. The initiative identified the “Riverpoint Campus” (now known as the University District) as its home and, starting in 1996, brought programs from Eastern Washington University and Washington State University to the campus. Milestones in the following decades include the development of the EWU Health Science Building (1996), the creation of the WWAMI UW-WSU partnership (2008), WSU College of Nursing (2009), WSU Health Science Campus (2010), and the Pharmaceutical/Bio-medical Building (2013).

The growth of the University District, especially in the health and life science sector, spurred community leaders to convene a new initiative in 2015. VISION 2030, now known as Life Sciences Spokane, challenged Spokane to move toward creating a world-class center for health and medical sciences education, life sciences research, and commercialization. The target of this project was to leverage the unprecedented growth of the region’s health care and life sciences industry to create a positive economic impact across the community. The VISION 2030 team not only supported the creation of the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and the new WWAMI regional partnership between the University of Washington School of Medicine and Gonzaga University but also served as the foundation for Evergreen Bioscience Innovation. The recent expansion of biopharmaceutical manufacturing through the growth of Jubilant HollisterStier in Hillyard and Selkirk Pharma in West Plains are the latest milestones on the life science growth trajectory.

Initiatives like Evergreen Bioscience don’t just happen. They are built over decades of effort and partnership. The cluster board and I look forward to engaging our industry, academic, capital, entrepreneurial, and government stakeholders this fall to clarify our strategy and goals. We open our arms to a community-wide effort to create sustainable economic development across our state and region.  

Want to know more, share your ideas, or get involved? Visit evergreenbioinnovation.com.

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