More than 700 employees were laid off from Massachusetts life sciences companies in the second quarter of 2023.
That brings the total to more than 2,200 just halfway through the year, approaching the total employees who lost their jobs in the entirety of 2022, when the biopharmaceutical sector began to struggle in earnest.
Five companies also closed their doors in the second quarter, bringing the number of shutdowns this year to at least 11. Some of these were relatively small: gene therapy startup Summation Bio, for instance, only employed about a dozen people at the time of its closure. Others impacted scores of workers, like Pear Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: PEAR), which laid off 170 in March when it declared bankruptcy.
All told, at least 746 employees were handed pink slips in the second quarter, based on the Business Journal’s review of securities filings, company statements, social media posts, WARN Act notices and interviews. Some companies confirmed that they’d reduced their workforces but declined to say by how much, so the real number of laid-off employees higher.
The good news is that many will likely be scooped up by hiring companies, or else have already been. A MassBioEd report published in May found that local life sciences firms are looking to hire, on average, 6,600 employees a year, increasing the state’s net new biopharma jobs by 42,000 over the next decade.
Below is a list of layoffs at Massachusetts biotech offices in the first quarter of 2023, arranged in chronological order. Did we miss any? Email our life sciences reporter here. Also, see our Boston-area tech layoffs tracker here.
Pear Therapeutics: Five years after the FDA approved the first-ever prescription software to treat substance use disorder, the company behind the treatment, Pear Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: PEAR) filed for bankruptcy, effectively shut down and laid off 170 workers, including its CEO.
Biogen: Cambridge-based Biogen Inc. (Nasdaq: BIIB) laid off an unknown number of employees, focused largely on those who’d been working on multiple sclerosis products. The drugmaker did not specify what teams, functions or locations were impacted.
GentiBio: The young startup GentiBio let go of “a relatively small” number of employees, CEO Adel Nada told the Business Journal, citing “a challenging biotech macroenvironment.”
Foundation Medicine: Cancer firm Foundation Medicine laid off 135 people in an effort to improve “agility, strategic clarity and prioritization,” as CEO Brian Alexander wrote in a blog post about the decision.
Seeker Biologics: An unknown number of employees lost their jobs when Seeker Biologics, a small startup behind biologics for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, closed its doors.
Laronde: Flagship Pioneering’s circular RNA startup, Laronde, laid off 12 people in April amid data integrity issues, Stat News reported.
Talaris Therapeutics: Two months after it let go of about 44 employees — one-third of its staff at the time — Talaris Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: TALS) laid off 95% of its remaining staff in April and May, including nearly all of its C-suite. Around 84 people were impacted, based on securities filings. In June, the company announced it would merge with a New York biotech.
Selecta Biosciences: Watertown-based Selecta Biosciences Inc. (Nasdaq: SELB) laid off one-quarter of its workforce, or about 15 people. The cuts impacted employees “from across the organization,” according to chief financial officer Blaine Davis.
T2 Biosystems: Lexington diagnostics maker T2 Biosystems Inc. (Nasdaq: TTOO) laid off 30% of its workforce, around 40 people. The cuts were tied to declining revenue. The company’s revenue dropped 71% year over year in the first quarter, hitting only $2.1 million, as demand for Covid-19 tests continues to wane.