Gov. Christine Gregoire outlines an optimistic future for the local biotech sector.

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Gov. Christine Gregoire welcomed out-of-state attendants to the Governor’s 2008 Life Sciences Summit last week with what many thought was a tongue-in-cheek remark:

“I want to welcome you to the epicenter of life sciences,” she said. Many in the audience laughed — because everybody knows the industry’s main hubs are in San Francisco, Boston and San Diego.

The state that gave birth to Immunex, which developed one of the world’s best-selling arthritis therapies, has seen its biotechnology industry decline in recent years, as evidenced by layoffs and a recent wave of Nasdaq delisting notices directed at companies such as MDRNA, Targeted Genetics and Cell Therapeutics.

That didn’t keep the governor from outlining an optimistic vision for the local biotech sector: the Accelerator, a local incubator, launching its 25th startup by 2015; or the Biotechnology Industry Association conference, an event held annually in San Diego, coming here that year.

But wishful thinking aside, some developing trends may play into the region’s strengths to boost the biotech sector.

“Much more emphasis is going to be placed on cost-effectiveness” as a new administration focuses on alleviating U.S. health-care costs, said Lee Huntsman, executive director of the Life Sciences Discovery Fund. Washington’s strong information-technology industry, when combined to its biotech potential, could help create momentum in that direction.

— Ángel González

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seattletimes.com or 206-464-8541