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Massachusetts biopharmas claim state’s 3rd-largest VC funding year on record in a single quarter at $4.3B

August 29, 2021
Life sciences

If you’re going to call one state home, make it Massachusetts, says a host of biopharma startups that raised an eye-popping $4.3 billion in venture capital cash in just one quarter.

The first quarter haul for the New England state is close to the $5.8 billion record set for all of 2020 and makes the first three months of this year the third-highest funding total on record, surpassing the bronze spot notched in 2017.

That’s according to new data released by the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, or MassBio, and commercial biopharma analysis data from Evaluate and federal sources.

To put that number in perspective, the overall biopharma industry was estimated to have raised $20.3 billion across the first two quarters of this year, according to a Silicon Valley Bank report.

Oncology, central nervous system and anti-infectives led the way for top financings in the first half. The startup haul was elevated by ElevateBio’s $525 million series C, which claimed gold for top VC rounds. EQRx’s $500 million series B and Adagio Therapeutics’ $336 million series C completed the top three.

Location, location, location
Cambridge-headquartered biopharmas reeled in about 47% of all that funding at $2.78 billion. Boston placed second with $919 million and Waltham had $606 million. Cambridge, the home to Harvard, MIT and other universities, also accounted for the lion’s share of cumulative IPO proceeds at 43%.

If you work in the life sciences industry in Massachusetts, you’re entitled to say that 14% of the country’s drug development pipeline is thanks to biopharmas in your state. That’s 1,541 drug candidates, 31% of which are cancer-focused, 12% are in the neurology arena and 9% are infections-related.

And there are 18 candidates pending FDA approval. Let’s see if any get to the finish line on Boylston Street before marathon day on October 11.

Massachusetts does come in second in one area: top National Institutes of Health-funded states. California took that badge with $4.99 million, whereas Massachusetts snagged $3.29 million, barely beating out East Coast rival New York.

If we’re looking at the nitty-gritty, county-by-county details, Middlesex claims the No. 1 biomanufacturing spot. The county employs 45.2% of the biomanufacturing workers in the state. Essex County is the next closest at 11.5%.

Again, Middlesex secured the top spot for R&D jobs, as well. The county employs 70.7% of research and development-focused biopharma jobs in the state.

Going public
In the first half of this year, 10 biopharmas with HQs in the state landed on Wall Street via an initial public offering. That’s on pace with last year’s 21. The total first-half proceeds stood at $2.1 billion. Again, that’s on par with 2020’s $3.9 billion.

Pfizer spinout Cerevel raised the most at $350 million, followed by Centessa Pharmaceuticals’ $330 million and Verve Therapeutics’ $267 million.

Of course, there’s also the SPAC. Blank-check mergers in the first half included Ginkgo Bioworks’ $17.5 billion pending valuation, Valo’s $2.8 billion haul, Pear Therapeutics’ $1.6 billion and Gelesis’ $1.3 billion. Tango Therapeutics and Gemini have already completed the SPAC dance, having raised $350 million and $216 million, respectively.

The state is home to 84,296 biopharma employees, a massive 92% growth since 2005, and a 5.5% increase from 2019 to 2020.

Takeda tops the list of largest biopharma employers in the state at 6,750 employees. Sanofi employs 4,000 and Aduhelm maker Biogen counts 2,800 workers in the state.

The average annual wage was $191,345, bringing the total to $16.1 billion in Mass.-based wages.

by Kyle LaHucik

Source: fiercebiotech.com

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