Originally published by the Life Sciences Times on March 10, 2022
The Life Sciences industry is growing rapidly all over the world, especially since the COVID-19 Pandemic started. The state of Massachusetts has been leading the way for the past decade, throughout not only the country, but the world. Massachusetts based Life Science companies raised $4.3 billion in the first two quarters of 2021, compared to $5.8 billion in the whole of 2020. So what is behind this growth? Is there still more room to grow? What can be done to ensure growth continues?
The CEO of MassBio (a non-profit focused on providing services to Life Science companies in the state) Joe Boncore says Massachusetts’s growth is thanks to “a unique combination of world-class universities, academic medical centers, talent, established investors, and support from government.” Harvard, M.I.T, Northeastern, Boston College, and Boston University are just some of the world famous educational institutions that call Massachusetts home. Massachusetts General Hospital is considered one of the best teaching hospitals in the world.
In 2008 the state passed the Life Sciences Initiative, which provided one billion dollars for the industry and in 2018 the state re-authorized the Initiative. Mr. Boncore cites this initiative as “Solidifying Massachusetts as the home for early-stage biotech R&D.” He also goes on to state that this early leadership has “also attracted a wide-range of established biopharma companies to establish a physical presence in the state – 18 of the top 20 biopharma companies in the world now have locations in Massachusetts.”
Mr. Boncore says the growth is not over for the Life Sciences industry in Massachusetts. “The state is well-positioned to serve as an incubator for game-changing research and medical innovation for years to come. As we’ve seen through our 2021 Massachusetts Biopharma Funding Report – 2021 alone brought in $13.66 billion in venture capital funding for biopharma companies across the state.” Some of the biggest I.P.O’s in the first two quarters of 2021 were Cerevel, which raised $350 million, Centessa Pharmaceuticals raising $330 million, and Verve Therapeutics raising $267 million in that time period. MassBio projects 20 million square feet of bio manufacturing and lab space to be built by the year 2024. My Boncore says the industry is already seeing great progress in the communities of “Waltham, Watertown, Woburn, Lexington, and beyond.”
One of the biggest challenges the Life Sciences industry faces is filling job positions. Mr. Boncore says “with an estimated 40,000 net-new jobs needed to be filled in the coming years, the life sciences industry is facing a potential workforce supply gap at a time when hiring can already be difficult for certain positions.” On how to ensure that this does not happen My Boncore says “We need to focus on education and workforce training initiatives so that more people and more diverse people can find careers in this space.”
While most industries took hard hits during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Life Sciences industry has seen rapid growth. “International focus on innovation within biopharma, biotech and the life sciences industry is at an all-time high following the COVID-19 pandemic.” Mr. Boncore stated, he continues, “In many ways, the pandemic accelerated the industry’s growth. 2021 marked record breaking venture capital investments in the industry as the world saw the power of the industry to change the course of human health through vaccines and therapeutics.”