High-tech exports, including biotech products, continue to rise as share of total Wisconsin exports

WASHINGTON – High-tech exports in Wisconsin, including medical and scientific instruments and biotechnology products, are rising at a rate faster than five Midwestern state neighbors and the United States as a whole.

The figures were reported in a study commissioned for the Wisconsin Technology Council by NorthStar Economics Inc., a Madison-based firm that serves as the official economic adviser to the Tech Council. The figures were released during the 2011 BIO International Convention in Washington, D.C.

Wisconsin ranked 13th nationally in high-tech exports and 15th nationally in tech export concentration, the study concluded. Wisconsin experienced the largest increase among Midwest states in tech exports as a percentage of total exports from 2003 to 2009, with tech exports growing by 41.7 percent. That compared to Illinois (up 35.8 percent), Michigan (16.9 percent), Indiana (15 percent) and Iowa (2.4 percent) during the same period. Tech exports in the United States grew by 13 percent during the same period.

According to the Tech America Foundation’s “Trade in the Cyberstates 2010,” 19 percent of Wisconsin’s total exports in 2009 were tech-related. That represented $3.2 billion out of total exports of $16.7 billion. Wisconsin’s exports rose to $19.8 billion overall in 2010 as the economy recovered from recession.

In 2010, medical and scientific instruments were Wisconsin’s third-largest export sector – behind only industrial machinery and electrical machinery and ahead of non-railroad vehicles, paper, plastic and cereal. Pharmaceutical products ranked 14th.

Total exports in Wisconsin’s medical instrument and pharmaceuticals sectors were $2.176 billion in 2010, or double the 1995 total of $1.068 billion. From 2005 through 2010, pharmaceutical products were Wisconsin’s 10th fastest growing export.

“Wisconsin is a state that relies heavily on exports, and high-tech products are increasingly a part of our export portfolio,” said Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council. “It’s a trend we expect to continue as the state’s biotechnology sector grows.”

Wisconsin’s leading export destinations in 2010 were Canada ($6.04 billion), Mexico ($2.01 billion), China ($1.33 billion), Germany ($750 million), Japan ($730 million), the United Kingdom ($620 million), Australia ($580 million), France ($560 million), Brazil ($560 million) and Chile ($420 million).

Foreign direct investment in Wisconsin is also on the rise. Foreign direct investment refers to investments by foreign companies in structures, equipment and organizations. In 2003, the Tech Council’s report, “Vision 2020: A Model Wisconsin Economy,” reported $11 billion in foreign direct investment in Wisconsin in 2000. That figure rose to $14.5 billion by 2008, the latest year for which figures are available, and supported about 130,000 state jobs at the time.

More than 15,000 people from 30 states and 50 countries are expected to attend the June 27-30 convention at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The annual gathering is the world’s largest for the biotech sector, covering medical, agricultural and environmental biotechnology sectors with a theme of healing, fueling and feeding the world.

Wisconsin events at BIO include a joint reception with Minnesota and the Province of Manitoba, which has a working relationship with both states, and other networking events in or around the convention floor. The Wisconsin pavilion is #4005 and is being managed by the Tech Council. In addition, a number of Wisconsin companies will take part in BIO’s one-on-one partnering and presentation forums.