These BioManufacturing Companies are Leading the Job Growth in the BioHealth Capital Region

2020 was a year like no other for BioHealth Capital Region (BCHR) biotechs, and this year is expected to bring substantial growth across many sectors. 

The life science community rose to meet the vast challenges presented by a global pandemic and, in many cases, thrived while other industry sectors struggled to remain afloat. Whether it was manufacturing PPE, developing new COVID-19 testing, racing to develop vaccines, or supporting the vaccine manufacturing deluge, biotechs and contract manufacturing organizations across the region were expanding and hiring. 

2021 looks to be a year where several BHCR companies will continue to grow as the pandemic continues and the vaccine rollout accelerates. What’s more, if the pandemic fades in the second half of the year, there’s likely to be a flurry of new activity as companies that held back IPOs take the leap—in January, several IPOs were filed, including several from the BHCR—and venture capital begins to flow more freely.

For now, however, let’s take a look at several prominent and promising BHCR life science companies that will continue to actively expand and hire in 2021. 

Emergent Biosolutions, Gaithersburg, Baltimore, Maryland

Emergent Biosolutions, which has several locations across the BHCR, skyrocketed to national prominence during the fight against COVID-19. The company, which already had an outstanding two-decade track record of success, was recognized as the COVID-19 Impact Award winner and Life Science Employer of the Year at the first annual BioBuzz Awards. 

Since the pandemic hit, Emergent has received $628.3M in DHHS/BARDA government contracts related to COVID-19 under “Operation Warp Speed” (OWS). The funding is for rapidly developing and scaling the production of COVID-19 vaccine candidates. Emergent has five COVID-19 partnerships, including partnerships with Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, AstraZeneca, and Vaxart, to rapidly-produce millions of vaccine doses.

This rapid growth sparked a need for hiring. Emergent has hosted several virtual recruiting events to connect with life science talent for its Maryland biomanufacturing operations.

Emergent employs approximately 1,800 staff across 19 global locations; the company has 10 marketed products, 15 products in its pipeline, and has a market cap of $3.1B with $1.1B of total revenue generated in 2019. Emergent’s marketed products include its Anthrax and Smallpox franchises, and it has Opioid and Chemical business groups as well as a Botulism group. 

Most recently, in January 2021, Emergent announced a new agreement with Humanigen to accelerate the manufacturing of lenzilumab™, an anti-human granulocyte macrophage-colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) monoclonal antibody designed to prevent and treat an immune hyper-response called “cytokine storm.” 

Emergent is expected to continue to grow in 2021 to meet the increasing demand for its services. Currently, Emergent is hiring for scores of positions across its Maryland locations. 

Kite Pharma, a Gilead Company, Gaithersburg, and Urbana, Maryland

Kite Pharma, purchased by Gilead Life Sciences for $11.9B in 2017, has built a state-of-the-art cell therapy manufacturing facility in Urbana, Maryland. The new facility is set to begin commercial production in 2022. The facility will produce innovative cell therapies for people with cancer, including Yescarta, which was only the second gene therapy approved by the FDA, starting in 2021. 

Throughout 2020, Kite was actively hiring and building out the team for the new facility that is expected to go online this year. As part of this recruiting effort, Kite hosted a virtual recruiting event to fill dozens of Cell Therapy Specialist positions at the Urbana commercial manufacturing site.

Kite, based in California, announced their initial expansion to Gaithersburg, Maryland, in May 2018 with the lease of a 26,000 square foot facility to support the work of a new Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to develop adoptive cell therapies targeting patient-specific tumor neoantigens.

Kite currently has approximately 20 open positions listed for its Gaithersburg and Frederick (Urbana) locations. You can view these job openings here. 

Lonza, Walkersville, Maryland

Lonza Pharma and Biotech (Lonza) is one of the world’s leading contract development and manufacturing organizations with 37 sites across the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. The company’s mission is to leverage technologies to enable a healthier world and to make a difference. Throughout Lonza’s long and storied history, the company has done just that. 

Globally, the Lonza team is 15,000 people strong. The company’s remarkable global team has provided support to 36% of all product launches with a breakthrough designation from 2013 to 2016; in 2016 alone, Lonza provided manufacturing services for 50 molecules and conducted 250 development programs, including the launch of groundbreaking autologous cell therapies.

The Lonza Biosciences group, located at the company’s Walkersville, Maryland site, recently held a Virtual Recruiting Event (VRE) to add new talent to its growing Lonza-Walkersville family. The company is actively recruiting for various quality assurance, manufacturing, HR, and supply chain positions. 

Lonza-Walkersville is currently hiring for 29 open positions. You can view these jobs here.

The Lonza-Walkersville location is the headquarters for Lonza Bioscience and is a leading provider of biology-based solutions to life-science customers, servicing research organizations, pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, biotechnology, and generic drug companies worldwide. The Walkersville location provides life science researchers with the tools they need to develop and test therapeutics, from basic research to final product release. Lonza’s Bioscience products and services range from cell culture and discovery technologies for research to quality-control tests and software for biomanufacturing.

ABL Advanced Bioscience Laboratories cGMP

Advanced Biosciences Laboratories, Inc., Rockville, Maryland

Advanced BioScience Laboratories, Inc. (ABL) is a rapidly growing biotech company that provides expert contract manufacturing and laboratory research services to customers worldwide. The company delivers best-in-class GMP manufacturing and immunology solutions for gene therapies, oncolytics, vaccines, and other immunotherapeutics to life science organizations and government agencies.

The company, founded in the U.S. in 1961, is on a mission to help life science companies bring more life-saving products to patients by efficiently advancing vaccines and therapies from clinical development to commercialization. ABL is well-positioned to achieve its mission with an outstanding team located at multiple sites and multiple cGMP facilities in the U.S. and Europe.

The Rockville facility has three GMP branches: upstream, downstream, and fill/finish. The site offers robust training opportunities via hands-on experience, established standard operating procedures, and a commitment to continual improvement.

As part of ABL’s hiring push, its leadership and team members hosted a virtual recruiting event in early December 2020. 

Since ABL’s inception in 1961, the company has been a trusted service provider to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). ABL’s business model includes both government and life science industry customers. Across its history, the company has developed the infrastructure and expertise to proficiently execute a wide array of product development work for medical countermeasures, emerging diseases, and diagnostics. ABL delivers a fully integrated solution to its partners, including cell line and process development services, GMP manufacturing capabilities, quality control testing, fill/finish services, and quality assurance/regulatory support.

ABL recently announced a new partnership with Just – Evotec Biologics on the development of a broadly neutralizing antibody against HIV. 

ABL is currently hiring for 21 open positions at its Rockville site. 

REGENXBIO, Rockville, Maryland

REGENXBIO is a leading clinical-stage biotechnology company developing gene therapies for retinal, neurodegenerative, and metabolic diseases. The company’s proprietary NAV Platform was invented to discover next-generation adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors to propel the discovery of new therapies across a wide range of disease areas, including rare/orphan diseases. REGENXBIO has exclusive rights to more than 100 novel AAV vectors and more than 100 patents and patent applications for AAV vectors worldwide. 

REGENXBIO was recognized as the Life Science Company of the Year at the 2020 Maryland Tech Council’s annual award ceremony.

The company made significant progress advancing its robust and diverse pipeline, and more growth seems on the horizon in 2021. In early January 2021, REGENXBIO announced that its pivotal program for RGX-314, a potential best-in-class, one-time gene therapy for the treatment of Wet Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD), became active. The company shared several recent highlights in the same press release, including a recently completed end of Phase 2 meeting with the FDA. They expect to file an investigational new drug by mid-2021 for a novel, advanced microdystrophin gene therapy to treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. 

REGENXBIO has approximately ten openings posted on their career site, with many more to come this year as they begin to expand their gene therapy manufacturing operation.

Novavax, Gaithersburg, Maryland

Novavax is one of the most remarkable growth stories to emerge in 2020. 

The company’s announcement in late January 2021 that its COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated 89.3% efficacy in the Phase 3 UK trial is just the latest milestone of the company’s rollercoaster pandemic ride.  While they will not have a large biomanufacturing footprint in Maryland, they will be working with CMO’s across the globe to produce their vaccine, which means that they will have hundreds of biomanufacturing-related roles available for positions such as QA, MS&T, tech transfer, process development, process engineering, and project management.

The past 24 months for Novavax represent an incredible come-back story. February 2019, Novavax suffered a disappointment with its ResVax vaccine’s failure for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a respiratory disease that impacts newborns. Novavax was warned that it could be delisted by Nasdaq in April 2019. 

The turnaround began with a strategic partnership with Catalent’s Paragon Bioservices announced in June 2019 and has accelerated with its work on COVID-19. Novavax has a deep history in vaccine development, including developing a vaccine for H1N1 in just 11 weeks, announcing the breakthrough just a few months after the swine flu emergence. The company has a rich history of combating novel infectious diseases, including the Ebola virus. Novavax is also developing NanoFlu, a nanoparticle, quadrivalent flu vaccine for adults over 65. 

Novavax was the first BHCR company to announce progress on a COVID-19 vaccine candidate on February 26th, 2020. 

By late February 2020, Novavax announced that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate had made progress in animal models. A few months later, the company secured $388M in funding from the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation (CEPI). In June and July, Novavax received an influx of funding from the Department of Defense (DoD) and Operation Warp Speed, the latter providing $1.6B in vaccine funding. Just six months later in August 2020, Novavax announced positive Phase I data, followed by the start of Phase II clinical trials that same month. In September, Novavax’s Phase III trials in the U.K. commenced, and the company received Fast Track Designation from the FDA in early November of this year.

In July 2020, Novavax’s stock price sat at around $6 per share; as of this story’s writing, its stock price hovers around $250.00 per share. 

Novavax has been on a hiring push to manage this rapid, remarkable growth sparked by its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidate’s advancement. 

In December of 2020, Novavax hosted its own virtual recruiting event in an effort to add new talent to its team of Supernovas.” The company is poised to continue adding to its already talented team into 2021. 

Novavax currently has over 100 open positions in Maryland across a wide range of functions.

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Steven Surdez

Principal at StoryCore
Steve has over 20 years experience in copywriting, developing brand messaging and creating marketing strategies across a wide range of industries, including the biopharmaceutical, senior living, commercial real estate, IT and renewable energy sectors, among others. He is currently the Principal/Owner of StoryCore, a Frederick, Maryland-based content creation and execution consultancy focused on telling the unique stories of Maryland organizations.