In my story yesterday about the current budget disaster potentially endangering California’s perch atop the tech world, I mentioned that the newsletter FierceBiotech, for the first time in years, left the state off its list of places that do the best job targeting the biotech industry.

The newsletter cited the state’s fiscal mess as a primary reason. But in an odd way, California’s mojo was hurt by Barack Obama moving into the White House, and George W. Bush moving out.

Among the first and longest-lasting controversies of the Bush years was the administration’s move to ban federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. In 2004, California voters countered the federal ban by approving a $3 billion bond program to create the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, which funded a wide array of stem cell research.

FierceBiotech hailed it has a smart move:

It matched bond money to institutional support for research work, triggering an intense building program that is creating new facilities and luring researchers from around the country. And it inspired a host of other states to get active in the game, setting the bar 10-figures high. To compete, economic development groups around the country had to start thinking big.

But then Obama got elected, and one of his first actions was to lift the ban on stem cell research, which made the California program less critical. Meanwhile, the big plans of other regions have started to materialize.


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