By John Rees
After a challenging few years, biotechnology is back. While much of the life sciences field proved relatively insulated from the broader macroeconomic climate in recent years (with employment and profits continuing to increase during both good times and bad), the biotechnology industry experienced significantly more volatility. The collapse of the capital markets during the economic downturn forced smaller companies to significantly reduce expenses. Large pharmaceutical conglomerates, on the other hand, struggled to devise new products to replace the sales of blockbuster drugs with expiring patent protection. Between 2007 and 2009, biotechnology employment declined in all but two states.
Since the depths of the recession, however, the biotechnology industry has rebounded strongly. During the past two years, every state in the U.S. has experienced an increase in biotechnology employment. In addition to employment gains and an overall increase in financial health, the biotechnology industry has once again become a Wall Street darling. With dozens of successful initial public offerings of biotechnology firms, by the end of 2013 it looked like it was poised to be the best year for biotech IPOs in at least a decade. The return of investor confidence in biotechnology has not only provided much needed capital, but also highlights the increasingly buoyant long-term prospects of all aspects of the industry.