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Smith Anderson Managing Partner Discusses the Successful Growth of Life Sciences in the Triangle

Triangle Business Journal
12.06.2017

In the Triangle Business Journal cover story, “Global Rush: Foreign life sciences companies flock to the Triangle,” reporter Jennifer Henderson highlights that while the Triangle has long been home to several life sciences companies, foreign-owned companies are moving and starting their U.S. operations in RTP at an increasing rate. Smith Anderson Managing Partner Gerald Roach spoke with Jennifer about this trend and what it means for future growth in the region.

“What we have can’t be created overnight,” Gerald explained. “We have to continue to protect [the Triangle’s] reputation.”

According to the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, life sciences companies based outside the U.S. have announced roughly $2.5 billion in planned Triangle investments and more than 2,000 new jobs since 2013, citing talent, cost of living and infrastructure among the reasons to call the Triangle home.

Leaders in the life sciences industry also point to the quality universities, clusters of ag-biotechs and contract research companies, desirable location and impressive business services infrastructure—consulting, legal and accounting expertise—as driving factors when selecting the Triangle for their businesses. “The Triangle is a global marketplace,” said Gerald, and that “goes beyond life sciences, but applies to life sciences. Companies can come here, and know that the service infrastructure is here to serve their needs.”

Though Gerald acknowledges that the Triangle’s recruiting of foreign life sciences companies is rooted in decades of success, he says it should not be taken for granted. The trend for this recruitment is cyclical and leaves little room to rest. “The Triangle offers the ability for companies to scale, a great quality of life and affordable space,” he said.

Speaking about incentives, Gerald echoed the sentiment that while incentives can be helpful, they mean little without access to existing talent as well as a talent pipeline. “We don’t have to match other states,” Gerald elaborated. “The area has to be close enough that other benefits will make up for any difference.”

When asked about the Triangle’s access to capital, especially locally, Gerald noted that two decades ago, large private equity firms didn’t see enough critical mass here to come invest in the Triangle, but today, Triangle companies are attracting their interest. Just an hour-long flight from Boston and New York, the Triangle is a great place to come enjoy a round of golf at Pinehurst or take in a college basketball game, he added.

To foster continued success, Gerald said “the Triangle needs to continue to protect our reputation, and we need the business community and Republicans and Democrats to continue to work together to protect our reputation.”

“Additionally, infrastructure will continue to be critically important, as will adding more manufacturing jobs, particularly with the support of area community colleges, enhanced transportation to neighboring rural areas and waste water treatment,” he added.

Gerald’s practice involves domestic and international mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, corporate governance matters, public company securities, private financings, technology law and advising boards of directors and special committees. He regularly represents public and private growth companies and private equity firms with their general corporate needs and domestic and international transactions. In January 2016, Gerald was named Smith Anderson’s Managing Partner for a three-year term. Previously, he served for 15 years as Chair of the Firm's Policy and Planning Committee and Team Leader of the Corporate Practice.

Triangle Business Journal subscribers can view the full article here

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