SHNS: Report: Mass. Life Sciences Grew In “Toughest Times”

Sep 11, 2023

By Alison Kuznitz, State House News Service

Below is an excerpt from a State House News Service article published on September 11, 2023:

Massachusetts’ growing biopharma workforce is expanding beyond Cambridge’s life sciences hub and into Suffolk and Worcester counties, according to a new industry-sponsored report.

MassBio, which represents more than 1,600 organizations in the global life sciences and health care sectors, said in its industry snapshot that its membership has spread out from Cambridge and Boston at an unprecedented rate.

But as companies look to continue their success in Massachusetts, biopharma leaders and industry lobbyists say partnerships with state officials are crucial to remain in a “leadership position.”

“Even amidst challenging times for biotech companies, we still saw our industry’s workforce expand by nearly 7 percent,” MassBio CEO and President Kendalle Burlin O’Connell said in a statement. “While we all know biotech experienced a period of cooling after a red hot few years, our workforce growth, lab space expansion, large share of overall national VC investments, and strong government relationships make me hopeful for a strong 2024 and beyond.”

State assistance is needed, O’Connell said, to protect vulnerable pre-revenue biotech companies, including those working on complex drug development.

Rep. John Lawn, co-chair of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, said municipalities beyond the “urban core” are beginning to experience the benefits of the biopharma industry.

“Representing Waltham and Watertown, I have seen firsthand how the presence of this industry can positively impact a community,” Lawn said in a statement included in the report. “From a diversified tax base to consistent foot traffic, life sciences development has the ability to be an economic driver in addition to everything it does for patients.”

MassBio said the number of biopharma employees has grown by 110 percent since former Gov. Deval Patrick signed an initiative in 2008 that pumped $1 billion into the life sciences sector over a 10-year period.

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