Philly Now a Top 5 City for Life Sciences, Study Says

Professional services and research firm JLL recently released its annual Life Sciences Outlook report, which scores 15 metropolitan areas across the country and Canada on life sciences workforce statistics, funding availability, and other factors.

The report reinforces the idea that Philadelphia’s life sciences industry is thriving. The city came in at #5 on the list, up two spots from last year’s #7 rank. Continued lab space expansion and $900 million in 2016 NIH funding helped Philadelphia overtake the DC metropolitan area and Seattle-Bellevue. Greater Boston, the San Francisco Bay area, San Diego and Raleigh-Durham took the top four spots.

And with the rise in rank, Philadelphia’s life sciences sector shows no signs of slowing due to three key trends: more students are getting degrees in the region, more millennials are moving in to meet talent needs, and the city’s ecosystem of established pharma firms and new startups is being cultivated by growing research institutions.

Between 2010 and 2015, the Bachelor’s degree-holding population in Philly grew by 30 percent, more than any of the 10 largest U.S. cities and early 400,000 students attend one of the region’s 90 plus colleges or universities, with this population feeding into the region’s “eds and meds” space. As of 2015, 567,000 people in the Philadelphia metropolitan area worked in “eds and meds.”

Philadelphia has also added more than 135,000 millennials over the last decade, a trend that creates an attractive talent pipeline for life sciences firms seeking a talented workforce, the report says.

Researchers nodded to some recent developments out of the region’s top “eds and meds” establishments:

Eds and meds institutions are proactive partners in the life sciences economy. Drexel University if proposing 1 million square feet of rentable lab space at its Schuylkill Yards innovation district, a partnership with Brandywine Realty TrustChildren’s Hospital of Philadelphia and others leverage the Science Center to nurture and monetize research begun in-house. Spark Therapeutics, a CHOP success story, is keeping headquarters in University City and is exploring sites for its lab and manufacturing space.

The industry’s impact on real estate is also telling of how much the sector has grown and will continue to grow.

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