Bio & Life Sciences

Virginia Beach Offers an Environment Where Bio & Life Sciences Companies Can Thrive

Biotechnology and life sciences play an increasingly important role in our everyday life, allowing us to address many global challenges such as climate change, an aging society, energy security, combating the spread of infectious diseases, reducing hunger, and remediating environmental degradation, just to name a few. This key industry and its real-world applications have the potential to revolutionize the society we live in and the organisms that we live alongside.

Virginia Beach embraces and fosters bio and life sciences and serves as a vibrant hub for both established and emergent companies in this sector. The City’s strategic location, existing infrastructure, talent pipeline, bio networks, capital access and incentive programs, combined with a commitment to innovation, are what makes Virginia Beach a natural “fit” for this industry.

Location Matters

The City of Virginia Beach is centrally located on the U.S. East Coast and situated between two major life science clusters: the Research Triangle Park of North Carolina and the BioHealth Capital Region, which encompasses the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Given the City’s proximity to these bio hubs, a number of companies in this industry choose Virginia Beach for their business so they can benefit from the advantages that these large clusters provide and get the perks of operating in a smaller community.

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A distance of roughly 200 miles, or 322 kilometers, to Washington, D.C. or Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina from Virginia Beach represents a 3.5 to 4-hour drive or a 45-minute flight from our local international airport.

The benefits of establishing a business in Virginia Beach go well beyond its strategic location and proximity to other bio hubs. The City is a hotbed of growth and innovation. It has created an entrepreneurial ecosystem to fuel and facilitate innovation in addition to partnering with established companies such as Sentara Healthcare and LifeNet Health to drive advances in healthcare.

Why Virginia Beach?

Virginia Beach provides an opportunity to join a growing bio and life sciences cluster that offers a variety of competitive advantages that simply can’t be found in other markets.


City leadership supports the development of a bio cluster in Virginia Beach and provides resources to the private sector that facilitate market entry and success.

Quote from the deputy city manager.


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Higher Education & Research Institutions

More than 21,000 people are currently employed in the life sciences field in Virginia Beach (Source: VEC Community Profile 2020). The City also has a wealth of talent at its fingertips with local academic and research institutions that continue to produce highly qualified graduates every year.

    • Old Dominion University
    • The College of William & Mary
    • Eastern Virginia Medical School
    • The Sentara College of Health Sciences
    • Norfolk State University
    • Tidewater Community College


    Talent Attraction & Retention

    Given the stiff recruiting market and low unemployment rate, factors like quality of life can make a significant impact on a company’s ability to attract and retain the right talent. Virginia Beach has what it takes to accomplish both. With a competitive cost of living, a moderate climate with four distinct seasons, and an abundance of recreational and cultural opportunities, it’s understandable why Virginia Beach is often nationally recognized as a great place to live! Read more about our quality of life here.

    Virginia Beach: a Magnet for the Following Bio Sub-Sectors

    Biotechnology is a broad, interdisciplinary field that encompasses various sub-sectors. The City of Virginia Beach appeals to a variety of biotech firms and typically attracts those that fall into one of the four following sub-sectors due to the unique assets found in our community.

    Bioag

    BioAg

    Companies that apply the principles of biotechnology to agricultural uses to make horticultural, aquacultural, and agricultural methods more efficient and profitable.

    Agriculture is the third-largest industry in Virginia Beach, generating $134 million in economic impact annually. BioAg has received a lot of attention in recent years, as local farmers seek to diversify. Virginia Tech, a leading research institution in the Commonwealth, represents an outstanding information resource for local growers. Through the Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center, Virginia Tech provides graduate training of the highest quality for students in horticulture and related plant sciences.

    Medical device manufacturing

    Medical Device Manufacturing

    Companies that use medical technology in the research, development, production, and marketing of systems and devices for medical applications.

    Virginia Beach has an established manufacturing base mainly due to its strategic location on the U.S. East Coast and its proximity to The Port of Virginia. Situated in a key logistics hub, and within a Foreign Trade Zone, the City is well-positioned to serve manufacturers looking to import, export, or ship their goods domestically and internationally. More than 25% of the region’s manufacturers are located in the City of Virginia Beach (Source: BLS 2nd Qtr 2020), a number of them producing medical devices and equipment.

    Cosmetics

    Cosmetics

    Companies that use biotechnology to discover, develop, and produce components of cosmetic formulations to minimize the impact on the environment.

    Cosmetics companies who wish to enter the U.S. market often find it daunting as laws and regulations tend to differ significantly from those of their home country. The City of Virginia Beach provides extraordinary service to newcomers, helping them alleviate compliance concerns by making the necessary introductions to industry specialists and helping them navigate the reality of doing business in the U.S. Additionally, Virginia Beach is relatively close to Washington, D.C. and therefore in close proximity to key federal agencies (NIH, DARPA, FDA, and NSF) which is also an advantage to companies in this sub-sector.

    Digital health

    Digital Health

    Companies that focus on integrating technology into healthcare to enhance patient care, improve healthcare access, and offer new insights into real-world applications.

    Healthcare is a key economic driver for Virginia Beach. The City is home to a number of hospitals and medical facilities, including Sentara Healthcare, which hires more than 30,000 employees throughout the region. With the growing need for medical wearables, as well as innovation in sharing or accessing healthcare data, Virginia Beach is a great market for companies that focus on developing digital health products. The new ultra-high bandwidth subsea data cables coming ashore in the City also represent an asset for this sub-sector.

    Local Success Stories

    While Virginia Beach is often the location of choice for startups and new-to-market companies, the local industry also encompasses large, global companies with a long history of success and strong name recognition such as LifeNet Health and Operation Smile.

    LifeNet




    VABEACHBIO – Our Local Bio Accelerator

    The City of Virginia Beach opened its very own bio accelerator in the summer of 2021 which features wet/dry lab space with BSL-2 capability along with office space and conference rooms. Its business development programming includes mentoring and networking opportunities, as well as an introduction to capital and incentives programs.

    It’s where imagination and innovation intersect. VABEACHBIO was established to attract early-stage companies – entrepreneurs – who want to transform their idea into reality. This membership-based program is focused on helping to equip startup life sciences companies for market entry and position them for success. Virginia Beach offers more than “just” space that is designed as “fit for purpose” but programming resources to support and assist fledgling companies as they grow. Read more

    Additional Benefits to Bio & Life Sciences Companies

    Did you know that companies that are members of the VABEACHBIO Accelerator also benefit from resources offered by other bio networks? The Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development works in collaboration with the following groups and industry associations:

    • The Oxford Bio Network – United Kingdom
    • AseBio – Spain
    • Bioga – Spain
    • Virginia Bio – Richmond, VA (only 90 minutes from Virginia Beach)


    Virginia Beach is Open for Business

    Global Thought Leaders | March 28, 2022
    City of Virginia Beach benefits from climate and geography. But it is its attitude towards businesses that has truly transformed the area. For an overview of the City and it’s business environment, watch the video below.

    Are you considering Virginia Beach for your business?



    The Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development consists of a small team of business development professionals and support staff who are responsible for recruiting national and international businesses to Virginia Beach, while also providing assistance to the City’s existing business community.

    Our team members responsible for providing assistance to bio and life sciences companies include:


    Devin

    Email: dcowhey@vbgov.com

    Phone: +1-757-385-6455

    Virginia Beach Office

    Vicente

    Email: valvarez@vbgov.com

    Phone: +34639535736

    Madrid (Spain) Office

    Charles

    Email: cmacdowe@vbgov.com

    Phone: +44 (0)7788 755300

    Ipswich (UK) Office

    We are actively working with domestic and foreign businesses who wish to establish a presence in the City to support the development of the local bio and life sciences hub and help them take advantage of the multitude of current and future opportunities that this industry will bring to our City.

    Our services are:

    • Confidential – As we work together, our team will learn about your company’s plans to expand in the U.S. market, the number of employees you will need, and the services you will be providing. We do not disclose any sensitive information until you have selected Virginia Beach as the official site for your relocation or expansion.
    • Comprehensive – From conducting market research to planning your community visits, helping you through the site selection process, or with permitting, making key introductions, and everything in between, we make the expansion/relocation experience as easy as possible!
    • Continuous – Our team is dedicated to providing an ongoing service from the moment you initially contact us, to the day your business begins operating in our City, and beyond. We will be your go-to resource for all your business needs and you’ll also benefit from personalized expatriate support if you need it, where we can help with things such as purchasing a car, finding a school for your children, and helping you find a place of residence in a good neighborhood.
    • Completely free of charge – The Department of Economic Development is a division of the City of Virginia Beach. As a public entity whose mission is to grow the local economy through job creation and investments in our community, we will work with you at no cost to your company.

    Our economic development team travels around the world to meet with business leaders at their facilities or at industry-specific tradeshows or conferences. A face-to-face introduction allows us to gain a better understanding of your business activities and unique needs.

    The Virginia Beach Department of Economic Development also maintains an active presence in Europe with representatives located in the UK, Spain and Germany who are readily available to meet with you in person.

    You can also connect with our team at the following events:

    • Bio International – San Diego, CA in June 2022
    Meet us there