Home to a growing number of hospitals, universities, and leading biotech and pharmaceutical companies, the state of Massachusetts has built what some experts describe as the largest center for medical technology in the United States.
In 2020, venture capital investments in Massachusetts biopharmaceutical companies reached $ 5.8 billion, surpassing the previous record of $ 4.8 billion in 2018, according to the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio), a commercial group representing more than 1,400 members in the life sciences sector. .
In addition, 21 state-owned biopharmaceutical companies went public in 2020, a 110% increase from 2019, totaling $ 3.9 billion raised through initial public offerings (IPOs). These companies accounted for 32 percent of all US biopharmaceutical IPOs by volume last year.
By providing services and support to the world’s first life sciences cluster, Cambridge-based MassBio has helped pave the way for the expansion of the state’s medical sector since its founding in 1985.
This can be partially credited to the organization’s purchasing consortium, known as MassBio Edge, which aggregates the purchasing power of members to offer pre-vetted competitive discounts, preferential terms and benefits, and customer service. on products and services.
“As part of MassBio Edge, we leverage the purchasing power of our member companies and negotiate agreements with suppliers on behalf of our member organizations that they can benefit from,” said Kendelle Burlin O’Connell, President and Chief Operating Officer of MassBio. . “So basically the smallest biotech, maybe five to 10 people, could get the terms of the contract, the prices and the terms that a 30,000-strong pharmaceutical company would get on the basis of full purchasing power.”
A major incentive for biotech companies under MassBio Edge has been the program’s partnership with Boston-based Veolia North America.
As a privileged partner of the savings and rewards program, Veolia acts as a global resource for the transport, disposal, training and regulatory advice related to all types of hazardous, non-hazardous and regulated medical waste as well as ‘to weakly radioactive materials. The company also offers comprehensive waste recycling and energy recovery programs.
“We have been a Veolia partner since 1996. Historically, this [partnership] had focused on the chemical waste side of the business, but we expanded the agreement to include the regulated medical waste business [in 2020]Says O’Connell. “Obviously, this is of utmost importance to our members being in the life sciences [sector], and Veolia has shown that they are a strong partner for us over the past 20 years. Ultimately, what the [expanded partnership] means for our members that we have a one-stop-shop supplier with Veolia to manage both chemical waste and regulated medical waste.
With the Massachusetts life sciences industry achieving record growth over the past decade, with an emphasis on gene therapy and biologics, O’Connell says the need for a service provider waste in the region has become even more important.
According to MassBio, the state’s biopharmaceutical companies plan to add 10 to 20 million square feet of lab space over the next five years, creating more than 20,000 to 40,000 new jobs in the industry.
“Our members are made up of companies of all shapes and sizes in this industry. It is important for us to have a partner who can serve small businesses and emerging companies, but also grow with them as they move through their lifecycle and become a large biotech company. – Kendalle Burlin O’Connell, President and COO, MassBio
As the sole provider of waste management services for all members of MassBio, Veolia offers a full range of services to clients in life sciences, biotechnologies, universities, hospitals, industry and municipalities. through its network of more than 45 sales, service, treatment and disposal facilities in the United States
“The people of MassBio have a clear vision of the needs of their members and can communicate effectively [to] what their needs are, and our group has the technical expertise to ensure that we meet those needs, ”said Bob Cappadona, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Environmental Solutions and Services division of Veolia . “There is a level of trust between the two groups to ensure that we are providing service to clients in a way we can be proud of.
“I think this relationship has worked out well, either [dealing with] medical waste, hazardous waste, or frankly, [during] COVID, because we are committed to making sure that we can deliver the services we offer in a safe and appropriate manner for everyone involved. And, once again, it all starts with communication between MassBio and Veolia.
Serving various members of MassBio such as Harvard University, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer Inc. and Boston Children’s Hospital, Cappadona says finding a medical waste disposal solution for a business usually begins with a collaborative discussion with MassBio. and the member company.
“The development of our services is always very collaborative with the needs of our clients,” he says. “The first thing [we do] is to take a look at their surroundings. If you think about it, someone who works in a refinery or chemical plant versus someone who works in a biotech or pharmaceutical company is going to have a very different environment. So we have to make sure that we are very respectful of the environment in which we operate.
Cappadona adds that the process also includes extensive training to ensure the safety of waste personnel, as well as employees working in the lab environment.
“The # 1 thing is just to make sure we have a good overall understanding of what services we’re going to provide, where we’re going to provide them, and to make sure we’re communicating to the customer how we’re going to do it to ensure safety.” and compliance, ”he says.
Working closely with key companies involved in the development of COVID-19 vaccine research, Cappadonna says the company takes great pride in tailoring its services to the needs of its clients.
“Depending on the type of location and whether it is a small research site or a large manufacturing plant, we have adapted to the needs of these companies from both a management perspective. waste and from a business environment perspective, ”he said. “In some cases, we have done decontamination activities, and in some facilities, we have changed the frequency and the services we provide. But at the end of the day, we’ve made sure that our teammates and reps are prepared for whatever they need to do to enter and operate these customer sites.
To better manage the influx of medical waste throughout Massachusetts, Veolia has also partnered with MassBio and another third party to open a new medical waste treatment plant in Boston.
According to O’Connell, the introduction of this facility has been a major selling point for MassBio’s expanded partnership with Veolia given its proximity to members and the environmental benefits it provides.
“The facility aims to provide a local processing option here in Boston and will reduce the materials and resources put on the road while minimizing any transportation risk,” Cappadonna said. “It is newly authorized and currently in the ramp-up phase. We are not at full capacity at the moment, but we will be reaching full capacity soon. “
This article first appeared in the July-August issue of Waste Today. The author is the Associate Editor of Waste Today and can be contacted at [email protected]