New Jersey Life Sciences Grow With Educated Workforce

New Jersey has long been a hub of innovation for the life sciences, attracting more than 30 publicly traded biotech companies with revenues exceeding $3.2 billion. New Jersey is home to 184,000 scientists and 410,000 engineers and other technical specialists.

Kevin Litwin
On Wednesday, December 5, 2012 - 14:23

New Jersey has leveraged its long tradition of innovation into a high-wattage haven for life sciences and technology companies.

Some 184,000 scientists and 410,000 engineers and other technical specialists call the state home, as do more than 300 biotechnology, medical technology and pharmaceutical companies with average revenues of $43.8 million a year, according to advocacy groups BioNJ and the HealthCare Institute of New Jersey. More than 22,000 students each year graduate with degrees in life sciences from New Jersey's state universities.

Nurturing the growth of breakthrough companies is a statewide phalanx of resources, from incentive programs to cutting-edge university research assets to incubators to world-class technology centers.
"New Jersey has a very large life sciences industry, and we wanted to be closer to our customers, from the world's largest companies to the smaller, emerging ones," says Samuel Goldman, co-founder and chief operating officer of Intrasphere Technologies.

With grant assistance and other support from New Jersey state government, the company relocated its 150 employees from New York City to a Jersey City office in 2010, bringing its specialized, business-focused consulting services closer to the clients it serves. An additional 180 jobs are expected to be created within the next two years. Goldman says the location has helped Intrasphere Technologies attract some of the industry's best talent.

"We are a people-intensive organization, and we wanted a strong workforce," Goldman says.

New Jersey Invests in Innovation

In support of the move, New Jersey awarded Intrasphere a Business Employment Incentive Program (BEIP) grant worth an estimated $12.4 million over 10 years. The grant was a key factor in the decision to move corporate headquarters to New Jersey and invest $965,000 in the relocation project. Goldman says the grant will allow the company to provide ongoing specialized training to its staff.

"The amount we invest in training our people is an important part of what differentiates us," Goldman says. "We bring a tremendous expertise to the areas we cover, such as drug safety and clinical disclosure, and it takes a lot of knowledge and investment in our people to make the right decisions. The more we have to invest in our employees, the better we become. It's a wonderful cycle."

In Cranbury, biopharmaceutical company Amicus Therapeutics is developing a new class of small molecule, orally administered drugs known as pharmacological chaperones, for a range of human genetic diseases. Founded in 2002 with a startup staff of seven, Amicus Therapeutics was the first graduate of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority's Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies Incubator.

All the Right Facilities

The 46,000-square-foot CCIT facility, located at the Technology Centre of New Jersey science park in North Brunswick, offers the most wet labs in the state for incubation. Customizable office, production and "plug-in ready" wet and dry laboratory space is available to qualified tenants at below-market rent.

Amicus Therapeutics also utilized the state's Technology Business Tax Certificate Transfer Program. The program enables technology and biotechnology companies that have promise, but are not currently realizing a profit, to turn net operating losses and R&D tax credits into capital. Amicus, which now employs a staff of more than 100, also received funding from the Garden State Life Sciences Venture Fund, created by the New Jersey EDA and Quaker BioVentures to invest in emerging life sciences companies in the state. The fund has provided more than $90 million in co-investments in New Jersey companies.

"The shared space model is particularly attractive when you don't want to worry about infrastructure – concerns like hiring an office manager or a security team," says Nicole Schaeffer, senior vice president of human resources and leadership development at Amicus. "You need employees to be focused on science, raising money and developing partnerships."



Kevin Litwin is the author of Crazy Lucky Dead and a freelance feature writer with a career spanning more than 20 years.