Industry expert, and former CFO, David Johnston discusses how life sciences contribute to a robust and vibrant economy and help spur innovation.
Amid talks of recessions and slowdowns, the economy has come into focus in recent days. While predicting the future is all but impossible, there’s no doubt that a strong life sciences sector will be vital for maintaining economic vibrancy both now and into the future. David Johnston, who has served as a CFO in the industry, discusses some of the ways that life sciences bolster the American economy.
“If we want to grow our economy, we can’t overlook life sciences,” Mr. Johnston says. “Strong life sciences lead to innovation, improved health, and greater productivity. It’s no surprise that the United States also enjoys a strong, innovative economy given our accomplishments in life sciences, and if we want to maintain a vibrant economy, we must continue to invest in biotech and the like.”
Life sciences is a sweeping term that includes pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, genetic research, and more. Essentially, anything designed to improve the lives of living organisms can be viewed as life sciences. It should come as no surprise that the life sciences sector is massive, worth $2.6 trillion in the United States alone.
When you first think of tech startups, you might envision companies offering products and software solutions akin to Facebook, Amazon, or Microsoft. These companies, among others, certainly aren’t startups anymore, but they initially found their footing as startup ventures. Their growth has created countless jobs and driven innovation.
The next hot startups, however, may come from the life sciences sector. Breakthroughs could extend lifespans and eradicate diseases. Take Moderna, for example. The company was founded in 2011, making it relatively young in the business world. But Moderna played a significant role in confronting the COVID-19 pandemic by quickly bringing effective vaccines to the market.
“Life sciences offers a ton of promise,” David Johnston says. “As with many industries, breakthroughs can be hard to come by. However, when breakthroughs do occur, the impact is often far-reaching.”
As of 2018, over 1.8 million people were employed in the life sciences sector. Many of the jobs are high-paying and highly skilled. In the Age of Knowledge, skilled workers and cutting-edge industries are vital for ensuring a nation’s overall economic strength and prosperity.
David Johnston Discusses COVID-19 and the Economy
The COVID-19 pandemic was a harsh reminder of just how vital life sciences are for health and prosperity. The pandemic may have been much worse without a vibrant medical and biotech industry. If so, the economy would have suffered and may not have recovered as quickly as it did. Instead, vaccines were quickly developed and rolled out, making it possible to ease social distancing measures and to open the economy up.
“The pandemic illustrated why excelling in healthcare, biotech, and related fields is so important,” David Johnston says. “Quickly rolling out vaccines saved lives and may have averted other serious problems, such as a severe economic contraction.”
Humanity will likely face future pandemics, economic turmoil, and other serious issues. When these crises unfold, an intense research and development base may prove crucial for saving lives and mitigating disasters.