Boston Business Journal: Massachusetts’ biopharma industry keeps growing. Two headwinds could slow it.

Sep 06, 2023

By Rowan Walrath, Boston Business Journal

The following is an excerpt in the Boston Business Journal originally published on September 6, 2023.

Massachusetts’ life sciences industry grew by more than 7,000 jobs last year, outpacing competitor states even as the so-called “Covid boom” began to wane.

That’s according to the latest “Industry Snapshot” report put out by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, the trade group better known as MassBio, which examines trends in workforce, real estate, funding and policy on an annual basis.

As of 2022, Massachusetts had a total of 113,994 employees, up from 106,679 in 2021. Of those, 64,195 were R&D employees — an 8.5% increase from 2021 — and 10,493 were biomanufacturing employees, up 6.3% from the year prior, although biomanufacturing job growth over the long term has been much slower than it has been for R&D positions.

The rate of growth for R&D jobs was second only to North Carolina. For biomanufacturing job growth, only Florida bested Massachusetts.

The state’s life sciences workforce is projected to keep growing like this, aided in part by workforce development programs run by the city, the state and MassBio itself.

As the Massachusetts life science industry’s foremost lobbying group, MassBio is directly involved with discussions with local and state governments on this front. The new Healey administration has a sympathetic ear: Gov. Maura Healey plans on re-upping the state’s life sciences spending bill, she announced a $50 million workforce training program in June, and she, Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll and Economic Development Secretary Yvonne Hao have all consistently appeared at industry events around the Commonwealth. (That includes the Industry Snapshot itself: Healey is quoted in the report as saying the state is “is the global epicenter of the life sciences industry.”)

The spending bill is among MassBio’s top priorities. While Healey has confirmed that she’ll authorize the so-called “Life Sciences Initiative 3.0,” she hasn’t named any numbers to go with it, nor has she provided a timeline as to when it might be signed. Burlin O’Connell says MassBio has not heard word on timing.

“When we look at the future of this industry, and what I’d love to see as part of a Life Sciences Initiative 3.0, it’s continuing to incentivize companies to regionalize, because that certainly helps to address some of these issues; continuing to make significant investments as it relates to training workforce; and addressing these issues in a very proactive way,” she said.

Read the full story in the Boston Business Journal.

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