BioNJ industry survey sees biotech establishment growth but employment decline

September 23, 2014

A big jump in 2012-2013 venture funding will fuel growth; BMS' new facility

Like many other states and regional development organizations, BioNJ, in collaboration with the NJ Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development, wants to promote the value of their region as a desirable investment and growth locale. Its latest survey, Life Sciences in New Jersey: Looking Beyond Biotech, released this week, shows that the number of biotech establishments has jumped from 340 in 2012 to 379 as of now, a 12% increase. Year-ago venture funding (private capital including IPOs, but not ongoing corporate stock issuances) skyrocketed from around $400 million in 2012 to $900 million in 2013, fueling that growth, according to data cited by EY (formerly Ernst & Young), a partner with BioNJ, and Tony Torrington, a partner at EY, says that that growth is continuing in 2014.

However, while New Jersey, self-styled “Medicine Chest of the World,” remains a strong life sciences cluster, has declined by 12.3% from 2007, to 116,548 at the end of 2012 (these data include pharma, medical device and biotech jobs, and drug distribution employment). The number of publicly held life sciences companies decreased from 48 to 44—and probably the biggest chunk of that was the mergers of Pfizer-Wyeth and Merck-Schering Plough. The employment trend has probably already turned around, and the number of biotech-based IPOs headquarterd in the state shows that the industry is making the transition from traditional small-molecule pharmaceuticals to biotech. Pharmaceutical Commerce's analysis of recent life sciences employment shows that the entire sector (using criteria somewhat different from New Jersey's) had declined by 7.2% over the 2007-2012 period, and had begun to turn around in 2013.

BioNJ says that its goals for the coming years are to create a web-based translational and clinical research collaborative “suite,” connecting researchers and key opinion leaders, and expanding the state’s tax and economic incentives. “Data in this report are very encouraging for all stakeholders in the life sciences ecosystem and point to clear opportunities to advance the industry in New Jersey. It is only through continued collaborations that New Jersey can become a more compelling environment for biotechnology innovation and development, driving healthcare solutions,” said Debbie Hart, president of BioNJ.

The report is available for download here.

UPDATE 9/24:

Simultaneously with the BioNJ announcement (but, strangely, not coordinated with it), Bristol-Myers Squibb announced the siting of a new campus in Lawrenceville, NJ, near where its headquarters building is, and not far from a couple leased buildings in the Lawrenceville area. Employees at those leased buildings will be consolidated into the new facility when it opens in late 2016.

The 650,000-sq. ft. facility will have room for 2,500 employees, and will feature an array of state-of-the-art networking and communications tools, LEED certifications for energy and environmental design, and will allow for the continuation of a working farm on the property.