Alex Philippidis Senior News Editor Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Jobs abound in Asia and Europe. Find out which nations are the ones to watch.

Below is a listing of regions in seven countries outside the U.S. that hold promise for securing a biopharma job based on the size of their clusters of research universities, businesses, and nonprofit research institutes, as well as the locations of job openings posted on the websites of eight pharma and biotech corporate giants—Amgen, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Novartis, Pfizer, Roche—as well as the employment website LinkedIn, based on GEN visits to those websites October 17–23.

The regions listed are not ranked. The decision to include a region was based on how many jobs were listed for the regions, and thus how strongly they compared with other regions showing fewer jobs. From these results, GEN calculated how highly the regions would have ranked based on number of jobs, with the six regions scoring the highest being the regions selected for this list.

This year saw the inclusion of two new countries. One is Ireland, where biopharmas have continued to expand or move in, in no small measure due to lower corporate taxes compared with Europe and especially the U.S. It remains to be seen whether the pace of activity and thus hiring will remain high once Ireland ends the “Double Irish” perfectly legal loophole that has allowed biotech and other tech giants to lower their tax bills.

Also new this year is Bengaluru (Bangalore), India, where new Prime Minister Narendra Modi has signaled to the biopharma industry that government intends to support its growth, after years in which his predecessor Manmohan Singh clashed with industry over government support and intellectual property protection—specifically the awarding of a compulsory license to domestic maker of a much cheaper generic to Bayer’s Nexavar, stripped of its patent protection; and the refusal of India’s Supreme Court to patent-protect Novartis’ cancer drug Glivec.

China (Shanghai)

The fast-rising biopharma industry in and around Shanghai is seeing growth by homegrown as well as U.S. giants. China’s largest contract research organization, WuXi PharmaTech, bought the joint China-U.S.-owned CRO XenoBiotic Laboratories earlier this month, and in May started construction of a $100 million R&D and small molecule cGMP manufacturing site in Changzhou, China—just a week after breaking ground on a Philadelphia biologics manufacturing site. In June, Baxter International opened its first Chinese R&D center, a $56 million facility within Suzhou Industrial Park. And in March, Lilly and Novast Laboratories said they will build an up-to-$70 million plant to expand their manufacturing and development capabilities in Nantong, to be linked to Shanghai via an 11 km (6.8 mi) highway-bridge under construction along with a planned railway.

But multinationals doing business in China had best not run afoul of authorities: In September, GSK was fined almost $500 million while five former executives, including the onetime head of its operations in China, were sentenced to prison time. Earlier this year, China briefly banned prenatal genetic testing pending completion in July of new regulations covering what equipment can be used. Among the beneficiaries is China’s BGI-Shenzhen, which won China Food and Drug Administration approval for its sequencers.

France (Ile-de-France region, including Paris)

France’s largest biotech region accounts for roughly half of the nation’s biopharma companies, plus prestigious research institutes such as Curie, Pasteur, and Gustave Roussy; and the growing Genopole campus in suburban Évry CEDEX, where as of last year some 2,245 employees worked at 80 biotech companies. French biotech growth has caught the attention of Massachusetts, where Gov. Deval Patrick last month led a trade delegation in announcing that Paris-based Nanobiotix, a nanobiotech focused on cancer treatments, will open its first U.S. office in “the Boston area.” The delegation also hailed a collaboration that will partner France’s state innovation agency Bpifrance with two Bay State nurturers of startups, accelerator program/startup competition organizer MassChallenge, and Cambridge Biolabs, a provider of contract research services and shared lab spaces. And in another sign of French biotech outreach to the U.S., industry group France Biotech in June introduced 19 public French-based biotech companies to U.S. investors in the first-ever “French Life Sciences Days,” held in New York. 

Germany (Bavaria-Munich, and North Rhine-Westphalia [NordRhein-Westfalen])

With the number of people aged 65 years or older expected to reach 17.5 million by next year—about one-fifth of its total population—Germany expects its aging population to fuel demand for new drugs and diagnostics. And, Germany adds, it is more than ready to deliver. Biopharma’s global M&A wave has led to some sizeable deals by German-based corporate giants, most recently Merck KGaA’s planned $17 billion acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich, announced September 22. Siemens agreed in July to sell off the clinical microbiology business of its Healthcare Diagnostics unit to Beckman Coulter for an undisclosed price, while Bayer launched an up-to-$2.1 billion collaboration with Merck & Co. in May to co-develop new cardiovascular therapeutics. Around the same time, in a separate deal, Bayer agreed to buy Merck’s consumer products business for $14.2 billion.

Among smaller German-based companies, MorphoSys this month alone received undisclosed milestone payments from both Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Biotech (for launching a late-stage clinical trial of guselkumab for moderate to severe psoriasis) and Novartis (for launching a Phase I trial a HuCAL antibody indicated for diabetic eye diseases). The Novartis milestone marked the ninth antibody developed using MorphoSys technologies that Novartis is assessing in clinical trials.

India (Bengaluru [Bangalore])

Just weeks after taking office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to show India’s biotech industry some love: “For a sector that is used to stepmotherly treatment, the Modi-led government seems to be taking a cue from the Western model of cluster-based development,” The Times of India commented. Modi’s 2014–15 Union Budget, unveiled in July, envisions Bengaluru (Bangalore) as one of two regional biotech drug-development clusters; the other is Faridabad. Both would see “global partnerships in accessing model organism resources for disease biology, stem cell biology, and for high-end electron microscopy,” Modi’s finance minister Arun Jaitley said in his budget address.

In June, the government released a new National Biotechnology Development Strategy committing the country in part to promote such “emerging” technologies as synthetic biology, bioinformatics, and advanced proteomics, as well as advance translational medicine and support new “Technology Development and Translational Cells” in 50 research universities. New Delhi’s actions are aimed at stimulating more biobusiness—the latest example of which came October 21, when Canada’s SignalChem Lifesciences opened a research facility in Bengaluru. The biggest deal has yet to occur: Sun Pharma this month petitioned India’s Punjab and Haryana High Court to approve its planned $4 billion acquisition of Ranbaxy Laboratories from Daiichi Sankyo.

Ireland (Dublin and Cork regions)

The Emerald Isle’s low corporate tax rate—just 12.5%, compared to rates of up to 39.6% in the U.S.—is just one reason why Stateside biopharmas have flocked here in recent years. Another is the “Double Irish,” a perfectly legal loophole in which a company with a presence in Ireland maintains a subsidiary headquartered in a tax haven, which owns a second subsidiary that operates and is domiciled in Ireland. The Double Irish will soon be history: As of 2015, Ireland will require companies residing in Ireland to also be a tax resident of the republic. New companies won’t be able to use the loophole, while existing beneficiaries will have until 2020 to wean themselves off it. What effect that will have on the pace of biopharma growth in Ireland remains to be seen.

Over the past year, the republic saw several biopharmas grow existing operations. West Pharmaceutical will start construction next year on a new Waterford manufacturing site for insulin injector cartridges and other packaging components, creating 150 jobs. In June, AbbVie opened an €85 million ($107.85 million) expanded manufacturing center in Sligo, creating 175 more jobs.

Moscow, Russian Federation

Heightened tensions between Russia and the governments of the U.S. and Europe—reflected in economic sanctions imposed on the Federation following its annexation of Crimea—do not appear to have stopped many of the multinational biopharmas from adding jobs, although jobs are advertised in smaller numbers than the other top European regions on this list. Through its “Comprehensive Program of Biotechnology Development in Russia to 2020,” Russia has committed itself to growing into a biotech heavyweight by 2020.

One avenue that is emerging for Russia in building up biotech—perhaps because of the tensions—is through domestic biosimilars. The Federation recently opted to secure its supply of rituximab (MabThera) for patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia through the biosimilar AcellBia sold by Russian-based Biocad, rather than through Roche, which in 2013 reaped $217 million from Russia. The Federation expects to save money from the switch. 

U.K. (East of England, including Cambridge, London, and Oxford)

Southeast England’s three anchors—London, Oxford, and Cambridge—house world-famous universities and their spinouts, whose work has spawned growing public and private commitments to the industry. On October 13, the U.K. government launched a “one-stop shop” with free regulatory advice from four agencies, based at the Innovation Office of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency. The government in June named former biotech venture capitalist George Freeman to the new position of minister for life sciences, with the goal of stoking more partnerships among U.K. biotechs, universities, and National Health Service. Around the same time, the government awarded £25 million ($40 million) from the U.K. Research Partnership Investment Fund toward the £87.7 million ($140.85 million) Cambridge Institute of Therapeutic Immunology and Infectious Disease, whose partners include University of Cambridge, AstraZeneca/MedImmune, GSK, UCB/Celltech, Kymab, and the Wellcome Trust.

Apart from government, earlier this month venture entities of three pharmas—GSK’s SR One, Novartis Venture Fund, and Astellas Venture Management—joined VC firms Atlas Venture and SV Life Sciences to invest £20 million ($32 million) in Bicycle Therapeutics, toward clinical development of cancer drugs based on the company’s bicyclic peptide technology. Also uniting are East of England’s OneNucleus and three other regional life-sci organizations, all with a combined more than 1,000 members, into the umbrella group United Life Sciences. 

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