Pandemic triggered biopharma bounce in 2020

Boston Statehouse

FILE – In this Monday, Dec. 21, 2020 file photo, under the watchful eye of Prof. Dr. Iftahar Koksal, left, nurse Arzu Yildirim, center, administers a dose of the CoronaVac vaccine, made by Sinovac, currently on phase III clinical trials at Acibadem Hospital in Istanbul. The experimental COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Chinese biopharmaceutical company is 91.25% effective, a Turkish health official said on Thursday, Dec. 24. The efficacy rate announced by Turkey could not be immediately verified independently. Turkey, which has has among the worst infection rates in the world. has signed a deal for 50 million doses of the vaccine. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel, File)

BOSTON (SHNS) – The Massachusetts biopharma industry had its best funding year on record in 2020, when venture capital investment in Bay State-based companies hit $5.8 billion, according to a report out Wednesday.

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council’s annual biopharma funding report says that total surpasses the previous high of $4.8 billion in 2018. “At a time when the world was struck by a global public health crisis, the biopharma industry responded swiftly and demonstrated its value by creating highly effective vaccines in record time and developing therapeutics and diagnostics to protect patients from a novel virus,” MassBio president and COO Kendalle Burlin O’Connell said in a statement.

Twenty-one Massachusetts biopharma public companies went public in 2020, which the report said represents a 110 percent increase from initial public offerings in 2019. Two Massachusetts biopharmas also went public through special purpose acquisition company mergers last year, according to the report.

The report notes biopharma activity beyond the life-sciences hub of Cambridge. More than half of the state’s biopharma companies that received venture capital funds in 2020 were located outside of Cambridge, and nearly 40 percent of the ones that went public were located outside of Cambridge.

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