With one vote, the United Kingdom opted to depart the European Union in 2018, saw its six-year prime minister announce his resignation and created enough uncertainty to send global markets into a freefall.
There are myriad concerns from the industry about what Brexit will do to their business, and with ongoing economic headwinds across the world–and a biotech funding environment that is delicate to say the least—Brexit has arrived at the wrong time for the bio/life sciences industry.
Greater Washington’s life sciences industry has plenty of ties to Britain, most notably with U.K.-based drug giant AstraZeneca. That company has its largest research and development hub in its Gaithersburg subsidiary, MedImmune, which has more than 2,500 local employees.
Last year, AstraZeneca said it intended to inject $200 million into a new biologics manufacturing facility in Frederick in what it hopes will be a “world center” for research and development. The pharmaceutical giant said it plans to add 300 jobs there when it’s completed in mid-2017.
Another London-based global pharmaceutical, GlaxoSmithKline, was following suit, announcing plans last year to consolidate hundreds of vaccine research and development jobs in Rockville, making it one of three global vaccine R&D centers for the company. GSK cemented a major presence here when it bought Rockville-based Human Genome Sciences Inc. for $3.6 billion in 2012.
We are unsure how new regulations will affect our friends from Great Britain, but we know that the Brexit will be affecting how these companies grow their workforce here stateside and will affect how the bio community determines its growth path.
With an uncertain global market and with the bio/life sciences industry unsure of future funding, we could see a flurry of activity in the region. Brexit will surely create opportunities for entrepreneurial thinking. Let the exciting times continue.