Life Sciences Are Maine’s Fastestgrowing Industry

Life Sciences Are Maine's Fastestgrowing Industry

A recent report indicated that the pandemic will further boost employment.

Maine, United States. The pandemic has fueled Maine's life sciences jobs for the past five years.

The Maine Biosciences Association says 1,600 jobs will be added between 2020 and 2021 alone as more companies respond to growing demand for Covid-19 diagnostic tests and equipment.

The association's latest report lists more than 9,500 jobs at nearly 500 companies, the fastest growth in all of New England, including Massachusetts.

"We've seen a 42 percent increase in the last five years and a 48 percent increase in the last ten years," said Agnieszka Carpenter, executive director of the Maine Bioscience Association.

During the outbreak, life sciences companies including Puritan and Abbott increased production of COVID-19 tests and swabs. IDEXX, Maine's largest life sciences employer, has added hundreds of new non-pandemic jobs. Carpenter said more distant events could continue the momentum.

"I think we're really well positioned to bring startups here," added Carpenter, a place that attracts talented entrepreneurs.

"We're both from Maine, we want to live in Maine," says Wayne McCarthy, founder of digital health startup MedRhythms.

UMaine alumni McCarthy and Brian Harris moved their company from Boston to Portland six years ago. The company has developed a therapeutic software tool to help stroke patients improve their mobility.

Patients attach sensors to their shoes, put on headphones and learn to listen to acoustic beats or music, and try to adjust their feet to improve their gait over time.

“They think they're listening to music and the rhythm changes in the background and we add something to improve their steps,” McCarthy explained.

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Digital therapy, which has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, requires a prescription but allows patients to improve their mobility at home. The company has grown to 40 employees, and McCarthy said Maine continues to attract additional skilled workers from Boston and other metropolitan areas.

“This talent is spreading out and building things and people are setting up offices,” McCarthy enthuses.

In the near future, MedRhythms will be researching people with multiple sclerosis. Any MS patient who wants to get involved can contact MedRhythms directly at hello@medrhythms.com or fill out the "Contact Us" form on the company's website.

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