Bio & Life Sciences
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.