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September 21, 2022

Growth of life sciences jobs in Maine outpaces U.S. rate

Building exterior at night Courtesy / SMRT Architects and Engineers Maine Molecular Quality Controls Inc., based in Saco, invested $18 million in a larger facility.

Maine life sciences companies increased employment by 42% in the past five years, outpacing the industry's growth rate in New England and the U.S. as a whole, a report released Thursday shows.

The report, by the Bioscience Association of Maine or BioME, shows that the $2.2 billion sector employed 9,540 people in 2021, 42% more than in 2016.

That increase exceeds a 24% jump over the same period for the New England region and 6% in the United States between 2016 and 2021. 

BioME, a Portland-based nonprofit with more than 230 members and three staffers, unveiled the report at its annual conference, which took place at the University of Southern Maine.

Growing Maine-based life sciences companies include Maine Molecular Quality Controls Inc., of Saco, which designs and manufacturers quality controls for use in inherited disease testing and infectious disease testing for laboratories around the world. 

After boosting its workforce by more than 50% over the past three years, the company is up to 54 employees and seeking to fill eight open positions from scientist to customer service. 

Joan Gordon, MMQCI's co-founder and president, said she's confident of being able to make those hires despite today's tight labor market. Longer term, the company has even greater aspirations after investing $18 million in a recently completed, larger Saco facility.

"There's no reason why we can't become the size of IDEXX," Gordon told Mainebiz in a Thursday phone interview. "We're on that path, and it's a great space to be in."

'Robust' pandemic response

With more than 4,200 employees worldwide, IDEXX Laboratories Inc. (Nasdaq; IDXX), a Westbrook-based provider of veterinary diagnostics and practice software, is cited in BioME's report as Maine's largest life sciences employer, followed by Jackson Laboratory, of Bar Harbor, and Puritan Medial Products, of Guilford.

“This new report confirms the robust response to the pandemic from Maine’s life science companies contributed to tremendous growth in the industry,” said Agnieszka Carpenter, BioME's executive director. “While uncertainty surrounding the pandemic makes it hard to predict whether this level of growth is sustainable, Maine has now established competitive advantages, creating a positive outlook for the industry moving forward.”

BioME notes in its report that Maine's life sciences growth was fueled in part by the manufacture of in-vitro diagnostic tests and components, and of surgical appliances and supplies, before and during the pandemic. Research and development were also highlighted as important contributors.

More information

BioME's full report is available here. 


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