Boston Globe Opinion: How Massachusetts can lengthen its lead in life sciences

Jun 07, 2023

The following is an excerpt of an op/ed co-bylined by Governor Maura Healey and MassBio CEO & President Kendalle Burlin O’Connell that ran in the June 8 edition of The Boston Globe.

Since 2018, the number of life sciences employees working in Massachusetts has increased by more than 50 percent to nearly 113,000. Average annual wages have jumped to more than $200,000 per year. The amount of lab space (more than 55 million square feet of inventory) and venture capital funding (approaching $9 billion) have nearly doubled.

None of this happened by accident. It’s the result of bipartisan leadership in government (tip of the cap toformer governor Deval Patrick, who authorized the first Life Sciences Initiative in 2008, former governor Charlie Baker, who built on that program 10 years later, and the Legislature) and strong collaboration with industry leaders and our world-class academic institutions and research hospitals.

But now is no time to rest on our success. To lengthen our well-earned lead in the face of fierce competition from other cities, states, and countries, we must be innovative and inclusive, strengthen our partnerships, and make bold investments in all areas that support our life sciences ecosystem.

That means reauthorizing the Life Sciences Initiative for a third time to incentivize and spur growth across the industry, paving the way for more cutting-edge research, industry and workforce development, and drug creation that can save and improve lives for patients around the world.

It also means creating and expanding workforce training programs to develop talent, bringing in skilled workers from populations underrepresented in life sciences, and expanding our dominance in R&D to biomanufacturing as well.

We are talking about scalable initiatives like MassBio’s Bioversity training center in Dorchester that will provide short and intensive programs to give those with a high school diploma the skills necessary to enter and thrive in a biotech job; the Commonwealth’s Early College and Innovation Career Pathways programs that transform the traditional high school experience; and the Commonwealth’s new MassTalent initiative to connect employers and skilled workers in high-growth industries like life sciences, clean energy, and advanced manufacturing.

Read the full column at

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