Sana and BioLife Tout BioForest Region as Best Place to Work


With a rich history in cell and gene therapy, the BioForest region is ripe with opportunity. 

Among those seizing upon the momentum is Sana Biotechnology, which was voted the best place to work in the small employer category in BioSpace’s 2023 Best Places to Work report

Sana calls Seattle, WA home, though it has multiple locations across the United States. Steve Harr, president and CEO, told BioSpace that settling in Seattle was a strategic - and ultimately successful - choice, both for his company and his family.

“There are a lot of great aspects of living here,” Harr said. “There’s a high quality of life with a lot of educated people and a diverse economy, which gives you very unique perspectives on how to approach problems. I've loved learning from people in the industry here.”

A Great Culture 

In the Best Places to Work report, respondents were asked to rate their top choice organizations in the following areas: compensation, innovation, career growth opportunities, leadership, culture, diversity, equity and inclusion, reputation, flexibility and remote work.

Of these, Harr said culture is one of the most important, and the driving component of a company’s culture is its people. This focus on finding the right people is why Sana has experienced a number of changes in its leadership team during the past year. 

“My most important job is to build and empower a really great executive team,” he said. “The evolution has been really positive for the company - fresh minds and fresh perspectives help us continue to grow.”

He added that many times when an executive is brought on board, the company then has access to their network of professionals who may also be looking for a job.

This is particularly important for companies in the BioForest region. Though it is quickly growing, it may not have the same number of qualified candidates applying for jobs as say, a company based in Cambridge, MA. 

One way to combat this is to offer remote job opportunities, which Sana and BioLife continue to do, even as the pandemic recedes. 

Investing in People Long-Term

Another way to increase hiring is to also cater to those who do come into the office. This is one of the reasons BioLife Solutions, based just outside of Seattle in Bothell, WA, has just completed a renovation to its office space. BioLife also made BioSpace's Best Places to Work report this year. 

Mike Rice, CEO at BioLife, told BioSpace he recognizes the importance of investing in employees long-term, as well as offering them benefits they can’t get anywhere else. 

“In several of the past years, every team member in the company received a year's worth of their salary or their hourly wages in stocks to invest over four years,” Rice said. “It's been really rewarding to have people come up and tell me, ‘Hey, I paid off my mom's house note with the stock,’ or, ‘I bought my first car.’”

Both Rice and Harr said apart from the benefits they offer, there’s something completely outside of their control that makes their employees content in the BioForest region - the landscape. 

“It's such a mix of mountains and water and the vibrancy of Seattle,” Rice said. "Running, biking, mountain biking, skiing…we really have it all to offer as far as amenities, and that's a big deal here.”

Of course, what really makes a company successful is how it operates, not where it’s located. Still, Harr said, a great location doesn’t hurt. 

“I'm thrilled Sana is in Seattle,” Harr said. “I think it's a really important hub for our industry, and I think it's got a lot of capabilities that will allow Sana to grow as our science has a bigger impact on patients.” 

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