No one predicted the inconceivable and devastating events that transpired over the last year.

And while the pandemic took us by surprise, Indiana’s response did not. Collectively and collaboratively, Indiana’s life sciences community rose to the challenges of COVID-19 in numerous ways, and their commitment and dedication to working faster, harder and smarter – together – has helped people in Indiana and all around the globe. 

Whether it was Roche Diagnostics ability to produce a COVID-19 PCR diagnostic test and obtain Emergency Use Authorization in a matter of weeks; Eli Lilly and Company’s quick partnership to develop and secure Emergency Use Authorization for a monoclonal antibody treatment, in addition to their remarkable efforts to assist the state with testing; Catalent’s scale-up to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine for Moderna and Johnson & Johnson; or Covance’s acceleration of COVID-19 test processing capacity, extraordinary efforts abounded throughout the state to combat both a local and global pandemic.

While COVID-19 made and continues to make the headlines, Indiana’s life sciences sector remained committed to delivering medical breakthroughs in other areas. Indiana life sciences start-ups garnered a record high level of investment with more than $262 million going to 46 companies. That’s nearly $100 million more than 2019’s milestone of $171 million.

Companies new to Indiana and resident companies committed to significant capital investments in both facilities and people. Global pharmaceutical company Novartis announced plans to build an $80 million manufacturing facility in Indianapolis; start-up INCOG Biopharma committed to a $60 million facility and 150 jobs in Fishers; and Canada’s POINT Biopharma, which announced Indianapolis as their U.S. headquarters, will build a new $25 manufacturing facility and bring 100 new jobs to the area.

In addition, several multi-million-dollar expansions of life sciences facilities were announced across the state, including two notable investments in Bloomington. Baxter BioPharma Solutions is investing in a $50 million expansion and Catalent committed to a $50 million expansion and the addition of 300 new jobs.

And last but certainly not least, Elanco announced their decision to keep its headquarters in Indiana with plans to build a $300 million facility in downtown Indianapolis and adding 570 jobs to its current 1,600 positions.

In time, Indiana, the nation and the world will move past COVID-19. As we continue to navigate through its aftershocks, life sciences will continue to play an important role. Due in part to its commitment to delivering healthcare, testing, and treatments, the life sciences community has not experienced the same level of economic disruption as other sectors. Its workforce and supply chains will likely be some of the first to recover, and, beyond COVID-19, this industry has shown the willingness and ability to impact issues relating to social justice and inclusion.

That said, the technology concerns that were present before the pandemic have become all the more insistent, and likely will only lead to further acceleration of the disruptive technology trends that will define the future of this sector, here in Indiana and beyond. 

None of us wants to relive the challenges of 2020, but there is reason for optimism. The lessons learned from the urgent development of COVID-19 tests and treatments will benefit research and development for years to come. The unique and productive collaboration between Indiana’s diverse life sciences companies, public health officials, and research universities will provide a foundation for future partnership.  And, importantly, Indiana’s life sciences sector and health care providers will continue their mission of improving and saving lives.

Patricia Martin is President and CEO of BioCrossroads.

 

 

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