The biomedical industry has proven to be one of the most resistant sectors in California’s recession-hit economy and will play a major part in driving recovery, according to a new report by the California Healthcare Institute (CHI) and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

A November 2009 survey of 200 of the state’s leading biomedical employers about their outlook for the industry found that the sector is poised for future growth but that this growth may take place outside of the state.

The report found that over 2009, 64% of California biomedical companies either maintained or expanded their workforce, while other parts of California’s economy saw steep declines and the highest unemployment levels in three quarters of a century.

The report also found that over the next two years, 81% of biomedical companies expect to maintain or increase their workforce in California. More than half (58%), however, also admitted to plans to increase their out-of-state manufacturing workforce over the next two years.

CHI president and CEO David Gollaher said that California is the birthplace of biotechnology.

“While the biomedical industry has weathered the recession, it faces unprecedented challenges – access to capital, the educational funding crisis and uncertainty surrounding healthcare reform,” Gollaher said.

“Now more than ever, the sustainability of California’s biomedical industry depends on decisions made in Sacramento and Washington.”

California is home to the largest concentration of biomedical companies in the world, employing 274,000 people and receiving the greatest portion of venture capital funding of any industry in California and of any other state.