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Updated: January 8, 2024 Economic Outlook

2024 Forecast: Maine’s life science industry is poised for further growth, ‘domino effect’

File Photo / Wojciech Bednarczuk Agnieszka Carpenter, executive director of the Bioscience Association of Maine, says recruiting is a key goal for 2024.

While its technologies might seem exotic, the challenges facing Maine’s life science industry are familiar ones.

Finding the right employees. Finding housing for them. Building financial support for new companies as they grow.

Meeting those challenges in the year ahead is a high priority for the industry — and should be for the state, according to the Bioscience Association of Maine, known as BioME.

“With bioscience companies consistently expanding and generating high-paying jobs, sustaining this growth requires Maine’s dedicated attention,” says the industry group’s executive director, Agnieszka Carpenter.

Once confined to clusters of companies and academic labs around Boston and San Francisco, the life science field has more recently been thriving in Maine.

There are more than 9,500 bioscience jobs at roughly 500 companies throughout the state, BioME reported in 2022. Over the previous five years, the number of jobs soared 42% — not only outpacing job growth among all Maine industries, but growth in life science positions anywhere else in New England.

With an average salary of $109,000, the industry added $2.2 billion to the state’s gross domestic product, or 3.5% of the total.

Carpenter, a 2023 Mainebiz Woman to Watch, believes Maine is now poised to become a life science hub in its own right.

“The increasing interest of out-of-state entrepreneurs establishing or moving their operations to Maine should be considered,” she says. “Attracting more companies to the state will contribute to sort of a domino effect that will provide organizations an increasing workforce of, continuing the trend for a developing cluster of bioscience organizations in Maine.”

Digital advances, such as the use of cloud platforms and artificial intelligence, will help fuel that growth. Many of the technology innovations were made in response to the pandemic, but “the digital solutions are here to stay,” Carpenter says.

Investments in the industry’s talent pool and R&D efforts will pay off, she believes.

“Innovations in the life sciences are going to transform everything from agriculture to personalized medicine in the next few years and we as a state need to invest in the technologies and human capital necessary, for the economy and health of our people.”

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