The pharmaceutical and biotech sectors have been shedding jobs so far this year. Massachusetts is one of the hardest hit states to date. As for why it is happening, there is plenty of speculation. But overshadowing the industry’s bad news is a recent announcement from Samsung outlining plans to invest billions in biotech over the next five years.
Samsung’s investment is by no means generic. The company is planning to target drug discovery and microchip technology. They believe this is where the future of biotech resides. If they are right, their investment could signal a whole new direction for biotech jobs in the U.S.
A Tech Job Realignment
The broader tech market has seen significant layoffs since the start of the year. As of late June 2022, in excess of 22,000 tech workers were displaced throughout the U.S. Hundreds of those tech jobs were biotech jobs in Massachusetts. The layoffs come after a banner year in 2021 when company valuations and investment dollars were both higher.
A reversal in the trend this year doesn’t automatically spell doom and gloom for biotech. Instead, it appears that what we are seeing is a tech job realignment of sorts. Companies bring on waves of new employees to get emerging projects off the ground. Years later, when things settle in, they do not need so many workers anymore.
We definitely saw a need for more tech workers in 2021 as the nation emerged from COVID. But most of the COVID-induced tech problems major companies dealt with in 2021 have been overcome. So now the realignment begins.
The Samsung Announcement
While Biotech has shed thousands of jobs this year, Samsung is poised to pump a significant amount of money into the industry. They have announced a $360 billion investment over the next five years, partly in response to pharmaceutical companies switching gears to focus more on biotech.
What does Samsung want to do? First and foremost, Samsung’s Biologics division is already looking at merger and acquisition opportunities in both cell therapy and mRNA production.
Second, it wants to develop microchip technologies for biotech applications. Samsung sees an opportunity for quite a bit of growth in that particular field. But not all their attention will be on the microchips. They also plan to invest heavily on drug discovery.
A Bigger Focus on New Drugs
Samsung has every reason to direct some of its investment funds into drug discovery. Some of the biggest names in pharma have spent the last year or so spinning off ancillary units in order to focus more attention on developing new drugs.
More spinoffs are likely to come over the next 12 to 18 months. It all points to a renewed interest in developing new drugs at a time when the world is suddenly afraid of emerging diseases.
What It Means for Biotech Workers
Samsung’s announcement to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in biotech and drug discovery is good news to biotech workers. It demonstrates a strengthening of the market along with the potential for new and better opportunities.
The company’s focus on microchips in biotech is another good sign. It shows that Samsung is willing to put its technical expertise to work in developing new microchip applications. This is an area with plenty of room for growth.
Samsung says it plans to add some 80,000 jobs to its workforce over the next several years. Let’s hope other companies in the biotech sector follow suit. More biotech jobs should equate to more innovation that makes life better for all. In the meantime, pharma is likely to grow commensurate with what biotech achieves.