Amgen adding 100 researchers in Cambridge as biotechs scout for 1,000-plus

While Amgen ($AMGN) has been busily chopping thousands of staffers throughout its organization while reducing its R&D budget, one of its goals in the restructuring--which was repeated in its 10Q earlier this week--was to beef up its presence in two key hubs: San Francisco and Cambridge, MA. And it's following through with a plan to add 100 staffers in the Boston-area hub this year.

A spokesperson for Amgen confirmed its R&D hiring plans in the Boston area, referencing a statement from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) a few weeks ago which highlighted a $1.8 million tax incentive Amgen earned for its expansion plans. There is no specific number yet on just how many researchers will be added in San Francisco this year, she added.

Amgen recently said it would shutter its Onyx facility, eliminating 300 jobs and relocating others.

Amgen is hiring at a time when a number of major players have been cutting back. AstraZeneca ($AZN) is downsizing and spinning out an anti-infectives unit in Waltham, MA. GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) is uprooting Novartis's ($NVS) old vaccines unit in Cambridge with around 300 staffers as it creates a new vaccines R&D hub in Rockville, MD, which will also cost jobs in Philadelphia. Sanofi ($SNY), Pfizer ($PFE) and others have also been laying off staffers in the global hub.

But the news is far from completely bleak: The MLSC release spells out incentives that have been provided to 11 life sciences operations looking to hire 1,075 staffers this year. In addition to the 100 at Amgen, they are:

  • A plan to create 220 new jobs at Baxter ($BAX), as its biotech spinout Baxalta creates a new R&D center in Cambridge. That project, which Baxter initially said would involve a total of about 400 researchers, warranted a $4.4 million incentive.
  • GE Healthcare Bio-Sciences ($GE) is adding 175 jobs. Incentive: $3.15 million.
  • Fast-growing Alnylam  ($ALNY) gets $1.8 million as it beefs up its ranks with 100 new staffers.
  • Philips Electronics ($PHG) is recruiting 100 new life science staffers. Incentive: $1.8 million.
  • Biogen ($BIIB), which has been quietly winnowing out staffers in various groups, is getting $1.44 million for a plan to add 80 employees this year.
  • Merrimack ($MACK) earned $1.35 million as it creates 75 new jobs.
  • Alkermes ($ALKS) in Waltham is adding 65 workers. Incentive: $975,000
  • Synageva BioPharma ($GEVA) is hiring 60. Incentive: $900,000
  • Quest Diagnostics ($DGX) is adding 50 workers. Incentive: $900,000
  • And SMC in Sterling, MA--a contract device manufacturer--is recruiting 50 more as well. Incentive: $500,000

- here's the statement from the MLSC