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March 4, 2021

Mass. biopharma industry funding spiked to new record in '20

Photo | Courtesy | Above Summit Bristol Myers Squibb has begun expanding its Devens facility to make a newly approved lymphoma drug.

The Massachusetts biopharmaceutical industry raised far more investment than ever before in 2020, coinciding with the coronavirus pandemic that shifted an emphasis to potential lifesaving drugs, according to a report released Thursday.

The state's biopharma industry raised $5.8 billion last year, having never raised more than $5 billion in any year, according to the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, a Cambridge-based statewide industry group. The Massachusetts biopharma industry was so dominant nationally 41% of all biopharma venture funding went to industry firms based in the state.

Most companies raising the highest levels of money were based in Boston, Cambridge or Waltham. None of the top 15 were outside the Route 128 belt, according to MassBio, and Cambridge firms alone made up 40% of venture capital funding in the state's industry, demonstrating how the booming industry is so densely centered in areas like Kendall Square in Cambridge and the Seaport in Boston.

The same goes for biopharma companies that went public in 2020. Of the 21 industry IPOs, none were farther from Boston or Cambridge than Lexington, which is two towns over from Cambridge. IPOs boomed in the industry across Massachusetts last year, with industry companies in the state raising $3.9 billion by IPO last year, compared to $910 million the previous year.

Central Massachusetts has been working to gain a bigger share of the biopharma market, but the industry's largest players have so far been out of the reach of communities beyond Boston's more immediate orbit.

The life science industry, a broader segment not necessarily dealing directly in the manufacturing of drugs, has caught on in some ways in Central Massachusetts, including in Worcester, where WuXi Biologics is building a $60-million biomanufacturing facility and Galaxy Life Sciences is spending $50 million to build a similar facility without a tenant lined up.

In Devens, the drugmaker Bristol Myers Squibb is undertaking a 244,000-square-foot expansion of its existing manufacturing campus to make a lymphoma drug, and Boston developer King Street Properties is planning to start work this spring on a $500-million, 700,000-square-foot complex for drug-making operations for pharmaceutical companies.

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