- Boosted by new research and development positions, Massachusetts last year experienced the fastest rate of biopharma job growth in a decade, according to a report released Tuesday from state trade group MassBio.
- The report found Massachusetts was home to 74,256 biopharma jobs last year, up 6.4% from 2017 and 35.4% from 2009. R&D positions accounted for a little more than half the 2018 job count, at 39,365, while the number of manufacturing roles reached 10,148. The largest employers were Takeda and Sanofi, each of which had close to 5,000 workers in the state, followed by Biogen, Novartis and Pfizer.
- Despite the growth, Massachusetts still has to compete for talent with other biotech hubs, namely the West Coast stretch from San Francisco down to San Diego. A science and technology skills gap is also making it more of a challenge for many companies to find the right workers.
Job growth is one byproduct of the billions of biopharma investment dollars that flowed into Massachusetts over the past decade. In just the first half of 2019, Bay State drug companies took in almost $1.5 billion in venture capital and more than $800 million from initial public offerings.
Most of the investments are heading to one specific location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, considered to be the country's preeminent biotech hub.
The city, which is situated across from Boston on the Charles River, was home to 14 of the 18 Massachusetts biotechs that went public in 2018. It also received 63% of all the biotech venture capital that came into the state last year.
Moderna Therapeutics and Relay Therapeutics are both headquartered in Cambridge, and are responsible for the two biggest venture capital fundraising rounds of 2018 for Massachusetts biotechs — at $500 million and $400 million, respectively.
While venture capital's biopharma investments look to be cooling somewhat, money continues to pour into the space and catalyze job creation.
Some roles are proving harder to fill, however. Many of the largest companies are branching into emerging technologies like cell and gene therapy, which require advanced scientific and manufacturing know-how.
They're also trying to leverage more data, which has recruiters on the lookout for data scientists to add to their teams. But wrestling that talent away from the likes of big tech remains a challenge.
Additionally, there's the competition between biotech hubs. Annual reports from MassBio, short for the Massachusetts Biotech Council, and its California counterpart each tout why the respective areas top the list.
According to MassBio, California still leads Massachusetts in terms of biopharma R&D and manufacturing jobs, as well as funding from the National Institutes of Health.