Here in Wisconsin, bioscience is an $8 billion industry. Madison is home to prolific bioscience activity because of the strategic building blocks companies need to start, grow and maintain. In Madison, the convergence of academic, government and corporate efforts in biotechnology have translated technological dreams into commercial realities and put our region securely on the map.

Bright minds, bright prospects for you

Madison's population has a passion for biotech and life science disciplines. The area's highly educated workforce are here in force—in the schools, the universities and the numerous science-leaning companies that do business here. In fact, graduation rates at all levels here top the national averages: Nearly 50% of Madison residents have at least a four-year degree.


UW-Madison could easily be called "Biotech U." As the largest university in the state, UW-Madison's culture and resources invigorate bioscience business beyond simply producing abundant scientific, technical and executive talent. In 2011, UW-Madison spent $1.112 billion on research. Some of the homegrown research leaders include:

Madison College

While Madison College's $100 million expansion project at the Truax campus is a great boost for the region, this two-year college (formerly MATC) offers bioscience career training for individuals in more than 100 fields including biotechnology, electron microscopy, computer networking and plastics technology.

Labor force

The Madison region labor force and population aren't only highly educated, they're growing faster than the state rate and at twice the national rates. Compared with the national average, Madison also has a younger median age.

Madison is the only metropolitan area with a specialized job concentration in all four bioscience subsectors: agricultural feedstock and chemicals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, medical devices and equipment, and research, testing and medical laboratories (Battelle, 2006).

Madison: It all starts here

The Greater Madison region is home to more than 70 business parks equipped to meet the needs of technology-based firms and nine business incubators that support new start-ups.

  • BioForward is the voice of Wisconsin's bioscience industry headquartered in Madison. BioForward advocates on behalf of its members and provides a variety of opportunities for connections to funding, partners, customers and employers and employees through events and online resources. Members include bioscience companies, universities, nonprofits, service providers and government agencies.
  • University of Wisconsin Biotechnology Center is Wisconsin's catalyst to advance biotechnology research, education and industry for the benefit of society and the environment.
  • The UW-Madison School of Pharmacy's Zeeh Pharmaceutical Experiment Station can serve a key role in the effective selection and early formulation development of new drug entities from any drug discovery lab. The station can help move such candidates beyond the lab and into proof-of-principle clinical testing.
  • The Waisman Clinical BioManufacturing Facility is a state-of-the-art facility that is equipped with experienced staff and specialized equipment that are necessary for producing experimental human biotherapeutics in compliance with the FDA (cGMP) requirements. The facility is designed to manufacture clinical-grade biological pharmaceuticals for early stage (Phase I and Phase II) human clinical trials.
  • Wisconsin's Angel Network links entrepreneurs with investors who have an interest in early stage companies. The program has been so successful that the state added a 25% tax break off income tax for investors, and the number of organized networks now totals 18.

The Greater Madison region represents nearly 70% of the total companies and more than 90% of all research dollars in the Wisconsin Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs over the past five years.

In Madison, we don't just move mountains to assist bioscience start-ups—we build them too

The Discovery Building is a new facility that houses the public Wisconsin Institute for Discovery and the private Morgridge Institute for Research, which profoundly deepens UW-Madison's standing as a top research institution. The building serves as a hub for interdisciplinary research—spanning biotechnology, nanotechnology and information technologies—that will lead to the development of new biomedical treatments and technological applications aimed at improving human health and welfare.

  • The BioPharmaceutical Technology Center offers 20,000 square feet of space for educational, scientific and cultural purposes.
  • Master of Science in Biotechnology [4.8 MB PDF] curriculum is unique in the world for its fully integrated approach to studying the science, the business and the law/ethics of biotechnology. Courses are targeted to experienced, actively practicing professionals working within or around the field of biotechnology.

Major employers

Ranked America's 5th most innovative city, it's not surprising that Madison is home to so many leading-edge, bioscience employers like Epic Systems Corp., GE Healthcare, Promega and Covance to name a few.

High-tech, reasonable wages

Madison's wage rating, in a majority of key biotech and bio-ag occupations, is lower than the national average, which helps maintain a lower cost of doing business.

Madison biotech/bio-ag wage comparisons (mean hourly wage)

SOC CodeOccupation
Median Hourly Wage
(Greater Madison Region)
Median Hourly Wage
(United States)
11-9121Natural Sciences Managers
19-1021Biochemists and Biophysicists
19-4011Agricultural and Food Science Technicians
19-4021Biological Technicians
19-4031Chemical Technicians

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2011. The Greater Madison region is comprised of the following Wisconsin counties: Columbia, Dane and Iowa.

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