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Benelux vs Boston: Life Sciences in Boston [Part 2]

28 September 2020

By Jay Freeman

Benelux vs Boston: Life Sciences in Boston [Part 2]

In the first of our three-part blog series, we explored life sciences in Benelux, discovering why Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium are flourishing hot spots for the sector and its talent. 

In part two, we’re travelling over the pond to the US east coast, looking at the life sciences scene in Boston - why it’s so esteemed and the future challenges in its path. Let’s go. 

The Boston life sciences industry

Boston has cemented its title as one of the leading life sciences hubs of the world. Since the first successful cardiac procedure in 1938, Boston has created a reputation that’s difficult to match - attracting big names including Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Biogen and Pfizer, and creating a constant stream of talent and job opportunities.

Why is Boston the life sciences epicentre?

Venture capital funding

Venture capital funding is plentiful in Boston. In just one year, VC funding in life sciences grew 40% across America, with Boston receiving an eye-watering $5,563 million. This substantial cash injection allows the city to grow at a rate unmatched by other clusters - leading to countless innovations, developments and vacancies. 


Boston has quick access to top life sciences talent. Its enviable eco-system of world-class universities and hospital research centres creates a ready-made pipeline of elite talent. More than 5,583life sciences graduates live within a 60-mile radius of the centre, Greater Bostonhas more life sciences PhD graduates than any other cluster, and MIT churns out more life sciences PhD students than any other school in the US. 


Boston pumps a lot of money and resources into research and development, leading to discoveries and advancements unlike anything ever before. Key areas of innovation cover oncology, immuno-oncology and gene therapy - capturing attention, investment and job seekers. 


Together, the funding, talent and innovations in Boston create a steady stream of career opportunities for life sciences professionals - opportunities that account for 4.6% of the region’s total employment. These opportunities attract leading candidates to the area, fuelling further growth and innovations. 

Future challenges for Boston life sciences

While Boston is unlikely to lose its life sciences crown anytime soon, that doesn’t mean its future is without challenge. The top obstacles facing the city include:

Talent shortage

The sector’s unprecedented growth is creating a significant talent shortage, with more job opportunities than people to fill them. Boston’s high living costs don’t help the problem either, pricing many graduates out of the area.

Talent war

The Boston life sciences scene is growing alongside its tech scene, creating a war for talent too. Life sciences companies must compete against innovative tech companies that attract candidates with big salaries, topical perks and interesting projects. However, there’s also a promising opportunity for tech and life sciences companies to collaborate - sharing talent to accelerate growth. 

Lab space

The construction of new lab space in Boston is lagging behind the industry’s growth, creating a big challenge for established businesses and start-ups. However, this problem lends itself to the potential for suburban lab space, which, in turn, would provide workers with more affordable accommodation. 

How Panda International can help

At Panda International, we work with leading life sciences companies and elite talent, helping you to navigate the talent wat and shortages, finding the best candidates for your business, or positions for your career across:

And, if a career or company in life sciences is the plan (not yet the reality), we help you with that too - advising on the area, the opportunities and the life sciences scene. 
Ready to succeed? Get in touch.

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