SHNS: Competitor states take stock of Mass. Bio climate

Jun 07, 2023

By Sam Drysdale, State House News Service

The following is an excerpt of a State House News Service story published on June 6, 2023.

Massachusetts was one of the first states to invest in the biotechnology industry, and government officials continue to see this sector as an important part of the state’s economy. But workforce shortages continue to challenge the industry, as well as competition from states like California, Texas and North Carolina.

There are over 1,000 biotech companies in the Bay State, and 18 of the top 20 biopharma companies have a physical presence in the commonwealth, according to MassBio CEO Kendalle Burlin O’Connell.

“We didn’t get to be the best place in the world for life science by accident. It’s because of an incredible collaboration that we have here between industry, government and academia,” Burlin O’Connell said. Industry leaders say the universities in and around Boston churn out a highly educated workforce that feeds directly into the field.

Since 2008 when Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law a 10-year, $1 billion investment into Massachusetts life sciences, the state has seen almost a 100 percent increase in the number of employees in the industry, according to MassBio’s head of external affairs, Ben Bradford.

However, the explosive growth of this industry has slowed down over the past year. Despite record-breaking growth in 2020 and 2021, Bradford said, 2022 saw some slackening in the market.

“I think in the big picture, we are still the envy of all other biotech ecosystems. While money is not flowing as it once did, call it 18 months ago and prior to that, money is still flowing into Massachusetts-headquartered companies more than almost any other location in the country and in the world,” Bradford said.

Bradford partly attributed this slow-down to attention shifting away from the COVID-19 pandemic, during which Massachusetts-based biopharma companies played major role in vaccine development.

He added that although there was not as much growth as years past, 2022 was still the second highest venture capital funding year on record. In the first nine months of last year the state added over 12,000 jobs in just biopharma, Bradford said.

Read the full SHNS story at WWLP-22.

See all MassBio News