The last few weeks have undoubtedly been a paradigm shift for many in our community. Whether an educator, parent, student, scientist, or executive - every single member of the NIIMBL community is adapting quickly to new norms in our business, academic, and personal lives in response to the current coronavirus pandemic. As the world is waiting for vaccines, treatments, and testing technologies to reach clinicians and patients quickly, NIIMBL’s mission of driving biopharmaceutical manufacturing innovation hits home - ever more clearly.
As we all recognize NIIMBL’s focus on technology and workforce innovation, it is worth reflecting on the potential ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic on the biopharmaceutical manufacturing workforce. It is also time to begin thinking about how we, as a community, can stay ahead of the game and mitigate risk.
Stepping back to pre-coronavirus for a moment, we already knew the industry is at an inflection point with respect to growth. In looking at my home state of North Carolina as a representative ecosystem, the evidence is there. A recent workforce assessment  completed by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center (NCBiotech) recognizes the potential for 5,000 new biopharma jobs in the state in just 5 years. While a significant portion of that growth is due to expansion of cell and gene therapy manufacturing operations, 85% of companies noted they anticipate adding headcount over the next five years - so it’s not JUST cell and gene therapy, and North Carolina is just one example of a growth trend likely true nationwide. A recent Deloitte report  noted that "biologics are predicted to comprise more than a quarter of the pharmaceutical market by 2020” and the FDA anticipates reviewing and approving between 10 and 20 cell and gene therapies each year by 2025.