Across the country exists a growing need for advancements in life sciences, and Tennessee is pioneering this movement.

“Tennessee had the best combination of workforce and environment”

Scott Wellman, General Manager, Puritan Medical Products

Tennessee’s life sciences sector includes four key industry segments: biosciences logistics and distribution; medical devices and equipment; drugs and pharmaceuticals; and research, testing and medical labs.

All grand divisions in the state have seen an influx of life sciences companies choosing to grow or move here in the last few years.

There is a myriad of reasons for this trend. One being that Tennessee has a strong life sciences presence due to our universities, as well as being home to HCA, the largest health system in the U.S., which has headquarters in Nashville. Another asset is Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in East Tennessee, which is the largest multiprogram science and energy research lab in the U.S. and at the forefront of world-class research in these fields.

TNECD plays an instrumental role in bringing these companies here. The department focuses on recruiting projects with family-wage jobs for Tennesseans over projects that may have a higher job number but lower wages. TNECD also desires to partner with companies that will be here long term due to the low cost to do business in a central location.

Over the last two years, health care, life sciences and medical device companies have invested over $214 million in the state.

“Nashville is one of the top business growth areas in the U.S. offering an educated, diverse and growing population along with a favorable tax and policy environment for companies like ours.”

Mark Foley, CEO, Revance

Among the companies that have relocated or expanded in Tennessee this year are Revance Therapeutics, August Bioservices, ICON Clinical Research, Cognate Bioservices and Confluent Medical, to name a few. Each of these companies brings with them a unique blend of medical expertise and research capabilities that will grow with Tennessee’s workforce and further strengthen our business-friendly environment.

The most recent life sciences company to locate in the state is Puritan Medical Products. This week, the company, North America’s largest manufacturer of COVID-19 testing swabs, established new manufacturing and distribution operations in Robertson County.

Headquartered in Maine, Puritan will create 625 new jobs and invest $220 million in the Orlinda operations, where the company will have the capability to produce up to 200 million swabs per month.

When COVID-19 hit the U.S. last year, Puritan was put in the spotlight and had to quickly ramp up production to meet the demands of the U.S. government. It was tasked by the federal government under the Defense Production Act and received funding from the CARES Act to produce COVID-19 test swabs for the nation.

“Tennessee had the best combination of workforce and environment,” Scott Wellman, general manager for Puritan, said at the announcement. “We are thrilled to be in Orlinda and are excited to be a part of the community.”

While Puritan is based in the Northeast, many companies from the West Coast have been establishing operations in Tennessee. A key factor being that as cost of living goes up in West Coast states, the cost of living in Tennessee remains comparatively low, and quality of life continues to improve.

“Tennessee continues to make enormous strides in the life sciences realm, and we are proud to welcome another medical device manufacturer to the Volunteer State.”

Bob Rolfe, Commissioner, TNECD

In late 2020, Revance Therapeutics announced the company would move its headquarters from Silicon Valley’s Newark, Calif. to Nashville, Tenn. The cutting-edge biotechnology company’s new headquarters will include a training and education center where employees, healthcare providers, consumers and patients can learn about the latest innovations in the company’s aesthetics, therapeutics and financial technology (fintech) products and services.

Revance CEO Mark Foley said, “Nashville is one of the top business growth areas in the U.S. offering an educated, diverse and growing population along with a favorable tax and policy environment for companies like ours, making it an ideal, centralized location for Revance’s future growth.” Foley also said he anticipates Revance’s decision to invest in Nashville will be part of a movement of other biotechnology companies moving to the city.

Nashville is considered the health care industry capital with more than 500 health care companies operating throughout the city. Drug development and manufacturer August Bioservices is one of these companies headquartered in Nashville. The contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) announced plans in November 2020 to expand and create over 180 jobs in the life sciences industry.

In addition to Revance Therapeutics and August Bioservices, ICON Clinical Research is a medical research company headquartered in Davidson County. The company, a global provider of outsourced development services to the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries, is adding 85 jobs to its operations.


In Memphis, another CDMO saw major growth in demand for its services. Cognate Bioservices announced plans to add over 500 jobs and invest $45 million into expanding its operations. The globally recognized company specializes in the development and manufacturing of groundbreaking cell and gene-based immunotherapy and regenerative medicine technologies.

Like Puritan Medical Products, Cognate Bioservices is at the forefront of fighting COVID-19. Cognate acquired Cobra Biologics and announced in June 2020 that its facility in the U.K. signed a supply agreement with AstraZeneca to provide manufacturing of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate. This vaccine was approved for emergency supply in December 2020 and distribution began Jan. 4, 2021 in the U.K.

East Tennessee experienced growth in the life sciences sector when Confluent Medical chose to locate new operations in Chattanooga. Confluent Medical CEO Dave Hutchinson said, “the local talent pool of skilled workers” made Chattanooga the “ideal location.” The medical device manufacturer is headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz. and produces implantable and life-critical medical devices for the world’s leading medical device companies.

In regard to Confluent Medical’s decision to invest in Tennessee and the overall growth in this sector, TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe said, “Tennessee continues to make enormous strides in the life sciences realm, and we are proud to welcome another medical device manufacturer to the Volunteer State.”

The recent health care and life sciences projects Tennessee has welcomed over the past year are an indicator of the success, investment and job creation we will build upon in the years ahead.

To learn more about Tennessee’s health care and life sciences sector, visit

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