California’s Biotech Industry Boom and What It Could Mean for You

by John Montesi

The biotech industry is booming worldwide, and while some biotech brands may not have (or need) the same name recognition as consumer-facing companies, they play an important role in our society. As this innovative industry continues to grow, more exposure could lead to a greater number of students pursuing degrees that prepare them for this promising career path. For instance, a Master of Science in Biotechnology—a relatively new degree path that some universities now offer—can directly prepare students for jobs in the biotech field. Here is some information around the state of the industry and how you can get involved.

The Biotech Boom

It’s well known that California is home to Silicon Valley, but few people realize that the region is also home to “Biotech Bay,” a hotbed community of biotechnology, pharmaceutical, bioinformatics, and medical device companies spanning Northern California. Nearly half of the top 20 U.S. biotech companies have headquarters in Biotech Bay, and dozens more (established organizations and biotech startups alike) are clustered in major hubs throughout the state of California.

The rapid expansion within biotechnology industry is spurred by many of the same reasons the technology industry continues to grow at staggering rates. As scientific breakthroughs continue to occur at an increasing pace, the demand for—and ability to create—new biotech increases exponentially.

Consider the fact that the latest Apple Watch can take a medically accurate EKG reading of its user. This astonishing capability points to the symbiotic relationship between Silicon Valley and Biotech Bay. California has long been an industrial hub for innovation and technology, and thanks to its desirable climate, dynamic culture, corporations that attract and retain top talent, and port cities with easy access to manufacturing giants across the Pacific Ocean, it’s easy to see why biotechnology continues to enjoy rapid growth in California.

The Future of Biotechnology

Many of the biotech companies in California have become household names, even if people don’t immediately realize it. For instance, Amgen is headquartered near Azusa Pacific University’s campus outside of Los Angeles and has created several drugs successfully used for chemotherapy and treating autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, AbbVie has a campus in Biotech Bay, where it invented (and currently produces) Imbruvica, a drug used to treat B-cell cancers like lymphoma and leukemia.

AbbVie, the sixth-largest biotech company in the world, generated $28.2 billion in revenue last year. This puts another aspect of the biotech industry into perspective; between R&D, subsidies, patents, and insurance funding, these companies generate massive amounts of revenue while also reinvesting into ancillary industries across the communities they operate in.

Amgen, Bristol-Myers, Merck, Gilead Sciences, and countless other multibillion-dollar biotech companies call California home. As these organizations continue to expand and innovate, the number of professional opportunities that can be found within the Golden State is sure to rise as well.

Getting Your Start and Making Your Mark

Biotech is a profoundly meaningful career. It is possible that someone in today’s generation of students could discover the cure for cancer and other previously incurable diseases within the coming decades.

As the world’s population continues to grow and more nations join the global economy, the demand for biotech will only increase. Graduate students pursuing a Master of Science in Biotechnology can expect to study a mix of biology, chemistry, and engineering that prepares them for the complex requirements of research scientists in the medical field. If this sounds like a challenge you’re up to, you could have an incredibly bright (and impactful) future. Demand for qualified biotech professionals is at an all-time high and job security is soaring as the supply of workers and medicines is far outnumbered by the demand for innovation in biotechnology.

Interested in pursuing a degree that can position you for leadership in biotechnology? Enjoy the idea of attending class in California? Learn more about the biotech degree program offered at Azusa Pacific University.

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