Biotech Industries

Biotech Industries

It may be hard to recruit biotech talent in Seattle, but that's not stopping some Puget Sound-area companies from accelerating plans to hire more workers.

Seattle's Juno Therapeutics (Nasdaq: JUNO), Adaptive Biotechnologies and NanoString (Nasdaq: NSTG) are combined creating about 70 new biotech positions in the Puget Sound region, according to their websites. Of those, Juno leads the way and is looking to hire about 40 people. Seattle Genetics (Nasdaq: SGEN) is also looking to grow its staff by about 100.

Many of those positions are in scientific research, manufacturing, sales and administration.

These companies have all had positive financial news in recent months.

Juno had a stellar initial public offering in December and grew from 10 to 123 employees last year.

Adaptive just raised a whopping $195 million round this month and closed a $94 million acquisition of a California company.

NanoString hired about 100 people last year and is on track to get an important regulatory approval for one of its key products.

But how easy will it be for them to find the talent they want? That might still be a challenge.

Chris Rivera, president and CEO of the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association, said he sees biotech companies struggling with this all the time.

"There are fewer biotech companies here in the Northwest than in other hubs, " said Rivera, referring to places such as Boston and San Diego with booming biotech industries, in an interview with the Business Journal earlier this year. "That makes recruiting more challenging. There aren't enough candidates locally."

One of the challenges, Rivera said, is that national candidates who may be considering moving to Seattle for a job have to consider the risk if that job doesn't work out. There just aren't as many companies here, he said, so the lateral mobility between companies is significantly less than in other areas.

All these companies ramping up their recruiting, however, could help alleviate some of those concerns for new recruits.

The shuttering of California biotech Amgen's local operations by the end of this year, while initially a big hit for the biotech sector in Seattle, could also help. A couple hundred scientists will be looking for places to go, and some have already hopped to other Seattle-area biotech companies hungry for talent.

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