If you’re considering a job in the biotech industry or looking to start your own lab, some locations are better than the rest. In this list of top cities for biotech, we looked at funding options, from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and venture capital (VC), as well as available lab space, patents, job outlook, and proximity to clients and customers.
These areas offer strong healthcare systems, prestigious universities, and endowments worth billions of dollars. With numerous drug tools and technology developers nearby, it’s possible to turn investments into income. The top biopharma clusters come down to money, and more of those resources are becoming concentrated in fewer, specific geolocations.
According to the PwC/CB Insights MoneyTree Report at the end of 2019, out of all the pharma and life sciences sectors, biotech saw the largest VC increase compared to 2018, with a total of six megadeals – out of the 12 that took place. They expect the trend to continue.
Though the majority of that growth was powered by the Celegne/Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) megadeal worth $95 billion, strong activity in targets in the $2 billion to $10 billion dollar range continues to trend.
Translation? Now’s a good time to be in the biotechnology industry.
Boston – Cambridge, Massachusetts
Perhaps the most well-known city for biotech, the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council reports that their state is home to the #1 life sciences cluster in the world. According to the council, their state has the highest educated workforce in the U.S., as it ranks first in the country in percentage of residents with a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
Not only do they offer tax benefits for infrastructure, workforce training, and construction financing, they also house a number of incubators and pre-permitted land sites with office and laboratory space.
Massachusetts is home to biotech zoned science parks, as well as pre-formatted biotech sites. Bioready® communities are located throughout the state, with Boston-Cambridge being one of the top choices. 18 of the top 20 biopharma companies have a major presence in the region. This area ranks number one in terms of NIH and VC funding as well as lab space. The region comes in second place for patents but third in jobs.
San Francisco Bay Area, California
The San Francisco Bay Area could easily be renamed Biotech Bay. The tech sector has long been making major advances in this area, but it’s big for pharmaceuticals and biotech, too. 27% of all life sciences employment is in the Bay Area, thanks to companies like Merck, Gilead, AbbVie, Genentech, and Amgen. Data indicates there are 1,326 biotech companies in the area, with the top investments coming from venture capital and entrepreneurship programs. San Francisco leads in terms of patents but comes in 4th for NIH funding and jobs.
Los Angeles and San Diego, California
These two cities in southern California are situated in an area also known as Biotech Beach. Many life sciences and research companies such as Acadia Pharmaceuticals, Amgen, and Eli Lilly call the region home. With over 3,000 life science companies, you will also find 25 universities, colleges, and research institutions in the area.
For the past 5 years, San Diego has seen its life sciences industry grow by 20%. Life sciences employment grew faster in the region than total private employment. Areas such as La Jolla, Irvine, and Carlsbad are home to some of the most notable companies in the industry. San Diego ranked third in VC and 4th and patents. It places 9th in NIH funding but ranks 5th in terms of lab space and jobs.
Chicago is home to a number of biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Many world-renowned research institutions including the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Northwestern University also call Chicago home.
AveXis, a gene therapy company based in Bannockburn, IL was acquired in 2018 by Novartis for $8.7 billion. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News reports that in 2018, the region ranked 9th in VC funding, patents, and lab space. It ranked 10th in terms of NIH funding, but highest in jobs.
Thanks to companies like Boeing, Starbucks, Amazon, and Microsoft, you may not think of Seattle when it comes to jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). However, data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics and CBRE research reported Seattle as the fastest growing in the top 10 life science markets. from 2014 to 2017. During that time, the area experienced more than 17% growth in the industry.
Seattle ranks highest when it comes to patents and 8th in terms of NIH funding and VC funding, but 10th for jobs.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has the 5th highest population of all cities in the United States. It’s also home to 90 colleges and universities that provide talent for more than 1,600 life science companies. Big pharma company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has offices here. The Greater Philadelphia area ranks 6th in terms of venture capital and NIH funding as well as lab space and jobs. The area ranks 7th in terms of patents.
BioHealth Capital Region (Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia)
The BioCapitalTM community ranks third in the life sciences industry. It is home to the second most biotechnology, medical device, and pharmaceutical companies of all major groups. This region is 3rd in NIH funding as well as patents but 4th in terms of lab space and 9th in terms of jobs.
The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development reports that Maryland has more than 2,000 life sciences companies that generate almost $17 billion in economic activity for the state. Maryland is home to John Hopkins University, one of the most prestigious and respected hospitals in the country.
Virginia, too, is home to some outstanding colleges and universities including the College of William and Mary, Virginia Tech, George Mason University, and the University of Virginia. All of these institutions rank highly in the biotechnology and life science industries.
Washington, D.C. has a vast number of job openings in the industry and remains a popular destination for conferences and meetings.
New York and New Jersey
New York City is the largest city in the United States. Well known for a variety of entertainment options including professional sports teams, Broadway plays, and stellar museums, it is emerging as a life sciences center. It’s home to an estimated 14,000 life science professionals. In December 2016, NYC announced a $500 million 10-year deal to establish the city as a world leader in life science research and development.
In neighboring New Jersey, you’ll find major corporations such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, and Novartis. Together, the two states ranked number one in terms of jobs, second in NIH funding and third in lab space, and come in 5th place for patents.
No matter where you decide to launch your startup lab, Excedr’s equipment leasing program can help you save money so you can put your capital to work and grow your company.