Boom in biotech construction foreshadows job growth in industry

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BOSTON (SHNS) – Employment in Massachusetts’ biopharmaceutical sector will need to continue growing to meet industry demand after increasing 5.5% to nearly 85,000 jobs in 2020, a year marked by a economic downturn resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new industry report.

In its annual industry snapshot released Wednesday, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council said the 82,496 jobs recorded last year represented a 92% growth over the past 15 years.

Projecting that the state could need up to 40,000 new net biopharmaceutical workers by 2024 based on the amount of labs and bioproduction space in development, MassBio said the record rates at which companies in the Massachusetts are raising venture capital funds leading to “incredible growth in the real estate pipeline to meet demand from biopharmaceutical companies choosing to launch and expand in Massachusetts.” “

Finding talent to fill these roles will be “a significant challenge,” the report concluded, highlighting the external factors critical to the ability to attract and retain biopharmaceutical workers – housing, transportation and child care.

High housing costs, congested trips in the Boston area, and the expense and availability of child care services are all issues that heads of state and business leaders grapple with as they are considering ways to retain and attract workers as part of the shift to remote work models and other pandemics. habits change.

As remote workers spend more time at home, a recent “Future of Work” analysis prepared by McKinsey & Co. for the Baker administration estimated that the demand for office real estate could decline by 10 to 20% by 2030. This analysis recognized “the first emerging evidence of the conversion of office spaces to laboratory spaces in an effort to meet the growing demand from R&D and medical companies for working environments in anybody “.

The MassBio report found that the state had added nearly 5 million square feet of lab space from 2020 to 2021, and cited projections indicating that an additional 20 million square feet of lab and biofabrication space could be built by 2024.

After peaking at $ 5.8 billion in 2020, biopharmaceutical companies headquartered here raised $ 4.3 billion in venture capital in the first quarter of 2021, according to the report.

The industry also benefits from public investment, with significant bonds, tax credits and other programs targeting education, research and development, and workforce training in the sciences. life. In June 2018, Governor Charlie Baker signed a Life Sciences Bill that provided for capital spending of $ 473 million over five years.

Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, President and COO of MassBio, said investments in life sciences enable “biopharmaceutical companies to conduct groundbreaking research to meet the greatest unmet medical needs of people. patients ”and that the growth of the industry creates opportunities for the state and its people.

“But we’ve reached an inflection point in Massachusetts: we need to focus on expanding Massachusetts’ biopharmaceutical footprint beyond Boston / Cambridge, developing new bioproduction facilities, and recruiting, retaining and nurturing the next generation of skilled talent to ensure Massachusetts remains the best place in the world for life sciences, ”she said.

Much of the industry has been concentrated in the Cambridge and Boston areas. About one-third of MassBio’s Life Sciences Contributing Members, or 251 members, are located in Cambridge and another 90 in Boston.

Massachusetts’ largest biopharmaceutical employers are Takeda, with 6,750 workers, and Sanofi, with 4,000. Two companies associated with COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer (2,250 employees) and Moderna (1,738 employees), rank sixth, respectively. and seventh place on the list.

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