Leading Massachusetts biotech companies are international companies with many options.

Clearly, Massachusetts offers an outstanding environment for biotechnology research and we can be very thankful for the superb firms and institutes that have chosen to locate near our great universities.

But we cannot take our strong position in research for granted and even now we face stiff global competition in manufacturing.   Asian countries are rushing to expand biotechnology capabilities — even at the basic science level — and many of our larger local firms already have both research and manufacturing operations abroad in Europe and/or Asia.  As manufacturing spreads to lower cost countries, expertise will grow in those countries, and research will follow.

The local opportunities that remain in bio-tech will most heavily favor a fairly small group of highly educated professionals in research and development.  The life sciences will bring money into the state, but they will not employ enough moderately skilled people to take up the slack created by the loss of other manufacturing jobs.

For a sample of leading firms, see the City of Cambridge economic development brochure targeted to firms considering location in Cambridge.  This brochure identifies 11 top biotech employers “headquartered” in Cambridge. See the notes below about the global positioning of each of the 11 companies.

  • Genzyme, a Cambridge flagship, is a global company.  According to its 2006 10-K, Genzyme, including its subsidiaries, had 9,000 employees worldwide at the end of 2006.  It has major facilities in several Massachusetts communities, but it has 16 subsidiaries incorporated in the United States and seven other countries (all in Europe), and has manufacturing and research locations in 9 countries outside the United States.  Additionally, it manufactures some of its products under contract.  From a marketing standpoint, although apparently not yet from a research or production standpoint, it is expanding in Asia.
  • Biogen Idec had at 3,750 employees according to its 2006 10-K.  It leases or owns almost 900,000 square feet of space for operations in the Cambridge area, but has 530,000 in North Carolina and 350,000 in San Diego.  It additionally has space, some used for manufacturing, in 16 other countries, mostly European.
  • Millenium Pharmaceuticals, according to its 2006 10-K, markets and collaborates internationally, but has most of its space in Cambridge area.  It has 947 employees.
  • Vertex Pharmaceuticals, according to its 2006 10-K, leases most of its space in Cambridge, but has smaller facilities in San Diego and the United Kingdom.  715 of 962 employees were in Cambridge as of that report.  707 of the employees are in research and development and 215 in general and administrative functions.
  • Novartis does research in Cambridge, but also in Singapore and California.  See www.novartis.com generally.  The January 2008 issue of Site Selection Magazine reports the opening of Novartis largest manufacturing investment to date — in Singapore.  Singapore is aggressively developing it’s life-sciences cluster because it has lost other manufacturing to China.
  • Wyeth Pharmaceuticals does research in Cambridge, and has also expanded both manufacturing and research recently in the Merrimack Valley, but according to its 2006 10-K,  it also has major manufacturing operations in 8 other U.S. locations and in 10 other countries, including China, Singapore, the Phillipines, Taiwan.   Wyeth also has research facilities in 8 other locations in the United States and in 5 locations in other countries.  Just over half of Wyeth employees are in the United States.
  • Shire Pharmaceuticals, according to SEC ownership filings, is a part of a group of Canadian and British companies.  It is a global company that has operations in Asia as well as the United States and Europe.  According to the 2006 10-K for Shire PLC, the company had 2,868 employees and its principal premises comprised 736,000 square feet of which most were offices (as opposed to manufacturing) and 257,000 were in the Cambridge area.
  • Alkermes, according to its 2006 10-K, has laboratory space in Cambridge, but has some manufacturing in Chelsea and a 15 acre manufacturing site in Ohio.  It has 830 full time employees.
  • Biopure, according to its October 2007 10-K, does its finish manufacturing in Cambridge, but manufactures components in Pennsylvania and New Hampshire.  It employs 86 persons.
  • Immunogen, according to its June 2007 10-K, is in the process of moving its roughly 100,000 square feet of operations from Cambridge to Waltham.  173 of its 213 employees were engaged in research and development activities.
  • Dyax, according to its 2006 10-K, has 67,000 square feet in Cambridge (leased from MIT) and another 10,000 in Belgium for research.  115 of 161 employees world wide were in research and development.

Published by Will Brownsberger

Will Brownsberger is State Senator from the Second Suffolk and Middlesex District.