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Philly slips to No. 8 in the rankings of top US life sciences talent markets

The city still has major strength in the sector, according to CBRE, which tweaked its formula for building the annual list.

In the lab at University City Science Center. (Courtesy University City Science Center)

Philadelphia’s ranking as a top market for life sciences talent fell this year — but it’s still in the top 10, according to CBRE.

Real estate services firm CBRE released its 2024 U.S. Life Sciences Talent Trends report last week, which looks at life sciences employment and talent trends in markets across the country. Philadelphia was No. 8 for biopharma research and development, No. 7 for manufacturing and No. 9 for medtech. That’s at least in part because this year’s report included new categories, more markets and a different way of ranking.

“Philadelphia continues to be a leader in life science job creation given its strong market dynamics, major presence of large pharma companies, and world-class universities’ research institutions producing highly educated talent,” said Matthew Knowles, first vice president of advisory and transaction services at CBRE.

Last year, Philadelphia ranked No. 6 overall and in 2022, the region landed in No. 8.

26 markets join the rankings, and researchers break out the different categories

The structure of this year’s report is different from past years, with three sector specific rankings instead of one overall ranking.

CBRE’s research team said the research and development section is most closely comparable to previous years rankings, because past reports only tracked R&D talent. The rankings considered the number and concentration of researchers, new graduates, all doctorate degree holders and concentration of jobs in the broader industry.

This year’s report looked at 100 US markets whereas last year only considered 74. The addition of smaller markets changed the weight of certain variables that were considered, impacting the rankings.

Read the Report

Thousands of research, manufacturing and medtech jobs in Philly

Life sciences companies in the region expand job training opportunities as they continue to grow, Rebecca Grant, senior director of life sciences and innovation for the city’s Department of Commerce, told Technical.ly.

Philadelphia has 18,920 total employees in the biopharma research and development sector; these roles are mostly chemists, data scientists and medical scientists. There are 28,800 jobs in the manufacturing sector, which includes drug manufacturing and cell and gene therapy roles. The medtech sector has 23,620 roles that involve designing and producing medical devices.

Philadelphia ranked #5 in degree and a certificate creation, showing the region’s talent pool creation efforts. There were 4,160 biological and biomedical sciences degrees completed in the region and the bachelor’s level and above in 2022. Which is 10.3% growth over five years.

Life sciences continues to be a leading industry in Philadelphia, ranking No. 4 in the nation according to a report from commercial real estate services company Colliers. Philadelphia also ranked as the No. 25 startup ecosystem in the world with life sciences being a leading sector.

“Our industry and training partners are also collaborating to train Philadelphians without advanced degrees to enter the field of science,” Grant told Technical.ly. “There are many life sciences projects in various stages of planning and development in Philadelphia. This sets the stage for tremendous growth in jobs and scientific advancement across the region.”

Editor’s note: This headline has been updated to more accurately reflect the study.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: CBRE

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