Five years ago, Roche acquired Genentech, moved its management to San Francisco and started to slowly withdraw from New Jersey. That's a pretty typical story for what's been happening in the state. In the past 20 years, New Jersey went from having more than 20 percent of U.S. pharma manufacturing jobs to less than 10 percent.The state of Washington or New Jersey is not the state we need to dissect. The state biopharma is the problem. When it comes to our hopes and dreams about jobs and useful drugs it is going to take more than new surrounding and new money. The constant relocation of the jobs and the shuffling around of the workforce is not working. It contributes to a weaker and weaker workforce. It leads to Yes-men and desperate researchers willing to say what is needed to work another day. If we were to look carefully at the state of biopharma and their scientific method, we would find that it does not vary from one place to the next. Likewise nor do the layoffs.
"Essentially, every time there's a merger or one company acquires another company, there's a reduction in force, and there's been furious mergers and acquisitions in the pharma industry, particularly over the past 10 years," says James Hughes, dean of the school of public policy at Rutgers.The furious mergers and acquisitions are work functions that keep the leadership away from the higher risk activities of conducting research. It is hoped that someone else will come up with something in the pause created by merging companies, laying off people and articulating the way forward. History has shown that this is not a very effective method.
Business professor Erik Gordon of the University of Michigan says cutting-edge research isn't being done on closed campuses in the suburbs anymore. "The new innovation in biotech, in genomics is happening elsewhere. It's happening in places where there are graduate educational institutions that have research faculty doing that, and New Jersey really doesn't have that," he says.Again, we see this concept that cutting edge research is done only at certain locations. We've even been given an explanation for why that is. You need to be close to graduate education institutions that have research faculty doing new innovation in biotech and genomics! Take that Rutgers. Serepta had this concept long ago. They moved from Oregon to Bothell WA then to the Boston area. They hired and fired a new Chief Scientific Officer and the CEO and Chairman of the Board had a public spat. Those who think long and hard about what science is know that it is not something that only occurs at certain locations. The natural world can be observed anywhere. A laboratory in Seattle versus a lab in New Jersey or China, is no different. When we want to purify DNA will will all go to the internet to purchase a kit from Invitrogen or some other favorite kit provider. When we want to buy an HPLC we will hold meetings and decide upon our favorite HPLC provider. All HPLCs work the same. They also work the same in Seattle, New Jersey and China. This is the beauty of science. If you are thinking about it correctly, you are thinking about things that do not change from location to location. It can be done anywhere.
"What really sets this site apart is its location," says Tom Stanton of Jones Lang LaSalle, the real estate firm marketing the site. The site is so big that to show it off, Stanton needs a minibus. Looping through a parking lot with thousands of empty spaces, Stanton stresses how close the campus is to Manhattan, Newark's airport and public transit. "Hiring young, talented people is really important to these companies. And that population of upcoming talent is more into the city life," he says.