A recent Boston Globe article shared how life sciences is on track to be Boston’s dominant industry: “the Silicon Valley of biotech.” Boosted by Cambridge, Mass.-based Moderna’s groundbreaking COVID-19 vaccine and Biogen’s Alzheimer’s drug, the area’s biotechnology industry is in the spotlight. In fact, according to the article, Massachusetts has played a part in all three of the currently available COVID-19 vaccines. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine research was done at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and a manufacturing plant in Andover has produced much of Pfizer’s vaccine output.
In addition, M&A activity and commercial development in the area is on the rise. According to Commercial Property Executive (CPE), “the Boston life sciences market continues to lead the nation, with a strong concentration of life sciences employment, supplemented by venture capital funding and steady occupancy.” According to the Massachusetts Biotech Council, the state added 24,000 jobs over the past ten years, and all 10 of the biggest pharmaceutical firms have some presence here.
It’s no wonder that the life sciences sector in Massachusetts has expanded at about twice the overall rate of the state and U.S. economies since 2014, according to Massachusetts Biotechnology Education Foundation.
Massachusetts remains the number-one biopharma cluster in the country thanks to four key attributes:
While the life sciences industry is booming across the state, the talent shortage needs to be addressed to ensure continued growth – not only in Massachusetts but across the country. In order to maintain the top spot, the state must find ways to keep bright, promising students in the state, as well as raise the next generation of them.
According to a BioSpace article, a MassBioEd report showed that the home-grown talent pipeline is not adequate enough to meet the growing demands in the Bay State. “By the end of 2018, there were more than 74,000 people employed in the life sciences sector in Massachusetts and that number is projected to increase by 12,000 by 2024. In order to meet growing demand, it’s imperative that STEM programs be offered, supported and incentivized by the state and local governments from K-12 grades and beyond.
And, life sciences talent is not only in short supply in senior-level positions, but across all roles – from quality specialists to technicians and manufacturing workers.
To reinvigorate interest in life sciences, grants and funding should work to enable life sciences studies for all students with an interest in the field. Yet, it doesn’t only have to impact government funds. Academic institutions and private firms can also work together to offer real-world training via internships and mentoring programs.
Massachusetts is firmly established as the number-one hub for life science innovation and leadership and this recognition has been reinforced, given the role it has played in COVID-19 vaccines and other breakthrough medicine. In order to maintain this status, however, the industry needs to reinvigorate interest in the field, while gaining government and private support to make it an easy destination for businesses and life science professionals who will continue to make Massachusetts the benchmark of life science excellence.
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