Life Sciences Companies Growing in a Pandemic-Induced Depression

Life science jobs

Job loss in 2020 is reported to be four times worse than during the 2009 financial crisis, according to a U.N. report. Around the world, it’s estimated that 8.8% of work hours around the world were cut, the equivalent of 225 million full-time jobs.  

Yet one industry continues to soar, as nations lean on it more heavily than ever – life sciences. Pressure for accurate, fast testing, treatment options and vaccines have proven our need for top-notch biotech and pharmaceutical companies. And the industry keeps growing! Here are a few companies bringing more jobs to a hurting economy. 

MicroGEM is a Virginia-based molecular diagnostics company that has just acquired Jump Start Manufacturing. Once FDA-approved, MicroGEM’s new Spitfire6830 SARS-CoV-2 testing system will be in high demand and the company needed a spot ready to scale up production. Jump Start’s Hudson, NH facility fit the bill.  

The company’s expansion doesn’t stop on the east coast. MicroGEM also established a new facility in Ogden, Utah to drive up production of its innovative test. Between the two locations, the company will create more than 500 jobs, with the capability of cranking out 160,000 tests per day. 

MicroGEM is all about democratizing molecular biology, designing testing tools that can be used anywhere from a bustling city to the backside of the jungle, no lab required. The Spitfire6830 is a portable, PCR-based, point-of-need saliva test that can identify the SARS-CoV-2 virus in asymptomatic and symptomatic individuals. The system is now in the final stages of approval with a EUA from the FDA.  

Florida’s job economy is getting a particularly big boost over the next 10 years or so. The H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center is one of only 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers. It’s ranked #11 on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals for Cancer last year. And it’s struck up a deal this week to grow even more in Pasco County, Florida

Phase one of Moffitt’s approved plans will be a $60 million, 128,000-square-foot corporate business park. Anticipated completion is about five years, creating 435 jobs for the area. 

The full agreement is a 775-acre campus that will bring 14,400 new jobs to the area. Job opportunities like that typically come with a whole lot of perks from the local government. Pasco County approved a $25 million incentive package and financing for Moffitt, in addition to waiving nearly $800,000 in fees. 

The project will expand clinical and research facilities, allowing third-party researchers, manufacturers, and clinical providers space to work. The Pasco Economic Development Council hopes it will become a life sciences hub for enterprise and innovation. 

While many of the biotech hubs seem to be concentrated in the coastal states, the Midwest isn’t exactly hurting for life science expansions. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the Midwest is home to 29,865 life science companies, 503,947 life science workers, with an $80,288 average annual wage per person. Looks like those numbers will be moving up soon thanks to Indiana’s life science sector ramping up even more. 

Swiss-giant Novartis struck a deal with the Indianapolis city council last month to build a $70 million manufacturing facility near the airport. They’ll get a tax cut for the first 10-years from the city. The 60,000-square-feet will be built by Novartis-owned Advanced Accelerator Applications. The anticipated completion is the end of 2021.  

The site will manufacture Novartis’ radioligand drugs that target cancer. Currently, only one such therapy is approved, Lutathera, which generated $336 million in sales in the first 9 months of 2020. The location of the Indianapolis facility is what was critical for distribution of the drug. With only a 72-hour life from the time of manufacture, a location centralized in the nation for ground transport and right next to the airport for air shipping is perfect. 

CDMO’s have seen a windfall of cash in the US as demand for “onshore” drug production has grown louder. Baxter Biopharma Solutions is investing $50 million in an expansion to its fill-finish manufacturing facility in Bloomington, Indiana. Bringing 100 new jobs to the area, construction is already underway and will be completed this year. Currently handling contracts from about 25 biopharma companies, the site will begin taking on more contracts in 2022. 

Expanding on previous build plans, INCOG Biopharma is soon breaking ground on an 80,000-square-foot facility for its global HQ in Fishers, Indiana. The CDMO expects to take about a year to complete the project and anticipates hiring up to 150 people at the facility by the end of 2024. Specializing in injectable drug products, production capabilities will also include small molecule drugs and vaccines.  

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