Safeguarding Massachusetts’ Stature as the #1 Life Sciences Cluster in the World

Feb 05, 2018

The 10-year, $1 billion Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative (LSI), passed by the Legislature and implemented by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) in 2008, is expiring at the end of this year. Right now, the Legislature is debating a bill filed by Governor Charlie Baker that would reauthorize the program for an additional 5 years and $500 million. In the context of the last 10 years, extending this initiative is a no-brainer. The original LSI is an unqualified success for Massachusetts, for our economy and for patients around the world.

Before 2008, it was hard to say any one cluster, including Massachusetts, was definitively the best in the world for life sciences. 2018 is a different story. The LSI’s various incentives and programs have propelled our state to become the clear leader worldwide, not just in biopharma but in med tech too. Further, the LSI has helped expand the industry’s footprint outside of Cambridge and Boston. Worcester, Norwood, Billerica, Lexington and Woburn, among other suburbs, are now home to significant life sciences facilities including the biomanufacturing plants. 18 of the top 20 global pharmaceutical companies now have a presence in Massachusetts, along with the 10 largest medical device companies in the world.

Our 2017 Industry Snapshot report captures the incredible growth our industry has experienced:

  • Biopharma industry employment grew 4.8% in 2016, adding over 3,000 new jobs – that’s over 66,000 jobs in 2016. That’s 28% growth in last 10 years.
  • MA has more employees classified as Biotechnology R&D than any other state, and this segment grew by 9% in 2016. That’s 40% growth in the last 10 years.
  • MA biopharma manufacturing has grown 12.3% in the last 10 years.
  • ~11 million square feet of commercial lab space has been added to MA in last 10 years, an increase of 66%.
  • MA ranks #1 for NIH funding per capita and #2 in total NIH dollars. 5 of the top 6 NIH-funded independent hospitals are in MA.
  • Venture investment in MA biopharma companies was $2.9 billion in 2016, up from $2.3 billion in 2015, and more than triple the $900 million in 2012.
  • MA researchers are currently researching and developing products for patients with over 380 different medical indications.

This growth and success did not happen by accident. Massachusetts’ unique combination of cutting-edge research at our renown universities and academic medical centers, talent from our leading colleges and universities, and a strong funding environment for entrepreneurs created a place where the life sciences could flourish. Not until government became a true partner – as exemplified best by the original LSI – did Massachusetts take the leap to the best in the world. 

Not only has the LSI provided critical funding for educational and research institutions across the state, along with support for early-stage company development, the program has also created more than 3,150 paid internship opportunities at over 650 life sciences companies throughout the Commonwealth. Interns have represented nearly 200 different colleges and universities, and approximately a quarter have been hired full or part time. With ~12,000 new industry jobs being projected over the next five years, it’s critical that we continue to support workforce development so companies can meet their growth objectives.

If we do not have continued support from government, competition from other regions and states could threaten our stature as the #1 life sciences cluster in the world, potentially taking away critical talent and funding. Even more, with innovation at an all-time high, and cures finally becoming a reality for some of the most devastating diseases in the world, it’s vital that government continue to support this progress, and the reauthorization of the LSI would do just that. The targeted approach Governor Baker has developed for the second phase of the LSI will help the industry:

  • Invest in human capital and workforce development;
  • Invest in innovation through research and development;
  • Make Massachusetts the leader in the convergence of healthcare, biological engineering and innovation; and
  • Create private-sector jobs across the Commonwealth.

The industry has seen incredible success over the last decade – let’s make the next decade even better. I urge the Legislature to quickly reauthorize the LSI.  

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