Biotech and pharma amount to big business for Massachusetts

Marcony Almeida


More than one-third of all venture capital money invested in biopharmaceutical companies last year went to Massachusetts companies, with the bulk of those dollars headed to companies in Cambridge and nearby, according to a new industry report.


The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council on Wednesday released its annual Industry Snapshot, which tallied a total of $3.1 billion in venture investments in biopharma companies here in 2017, and another $2.7 billion raised by Massachusetts biopharma companies in the first half of 2018.


Cambridge-based companies received 62 percent, or $1.8 billion, of all biotech venture investment in the state, with companies in Boston ($320 million), Waltham ($242 million), Lexington ($129 million) and Woburn ($97 million) accounting for a significant portion of the rest, the report said.


“Massachusetts biopharmas continue to lead the industry in tackling the toughest unmet medical needs, creating a new wave of breakthrough therapies that treat the underlying cause of disease, not just the symptoms, and some that people are even calling cures,” MassBIO President and CEO Robert Coughlin said. “Cumulatively, it’s creating unbelievable opportunities to change the course of disease and improve the lives of patients, and investors want to be a part of this.”


Massachusetts companies accounted for 48 percent of all initial public offerings by U.S.-based biotech companies in 2017, the report said, and the 15 Massachusetts IPOs so far in 2017 account for nearly 40 percent of all U.S.-based biotech IPOs.


The 12 companies that went public in 2016 were concentrated geographically in a similar way as the venture investments, with six located in Cambridge, three in Waltham and one each in Boston, Newton and Burlington.


Jobs in the biopharma industry have increased by 28 percent over the past 10 years, according to MassBIO, hitting 69,941 in 2017 from the 54,280 recorded in 2008.


Those nearly 70,000 workers earned an average annual wage of $145,731.


Sanofi’s 4,800 employees make it the Bay State’s largest biopharma employer, followed by Shire, with 3,050 workers and Biogen with 2,443. The same trio topped the list last year.



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