In the same week as another significant tech industry ranking, real estate firm CBRE just confirmed what we’ve been hearing for years about our eds and meds-laden region: Philly’s life sciences game is top-notch.
Philly ranks No. 8 on the new Life Sciences Talent Report, which identifies the top 25 life sciences labor markets after assessing the largest 74 markets in the United States. Of note, the region has the third-highest number of biochemists and biophysicists of any US metro, falling just behind the Boston-Cambridge region and New York-New Jersey region.
CBRE assessed each market for criteria including number of life sciences jobs and graduates, life sciences’ share of each market’s overall job and graduate pool, number of doctorate degree holders in life sciences, and concentration of jobs in the broader professional, scientific and technical services professions.
Philadelphia fell just behind Los Angeles and just above Seattle on the list. Fellow Pennsylvania city Pittsburgh landed at No. 25.
Over the last five years, Philly has seen a 7% increase in life science research jobs, totaling more than 16,000 life science researchers. The region’s higher ed institutions produce 3,075 graduates in biology and biomedical sciences each year, making it the sixth leading market in that category. The region is also the eight-largest producer of Ph.Ds in these fields.
The life sciences field is growing overall in the country, expanding by 79% since 2001 to represent roughly half a million workers.
CBRE found that life science professionals tend to thrive in markets where general education levels are high, and there’s a high concentration of people who are also employed in the professional, scientific and technical industries. Clusters of STEM pros beget more STEM pros. And Philly, of course, boasts plenty of clusters in the form of its many universities and research orgs — University of Pennsylvania and its Pennovation Works, University City Science Center and hubs in the Navy Yard and King of Prussia, to name a few.
“A number of preeminent universities and institutions and their researchers, who have undertaken cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs, have recently transformed the industry,” the report said. “Undoubtedly, institutional partnerships with local industry and government incentives help separate more vibrant life sciences clusters than others.”
Philadelphia-area salaries for the industry are on the higher side, the report shows. Biochemists make an average of $103,000, biomedical engineers make $91,000, chemists make $82,000, and biophysicists make $105,000. With an annual cost of living average of $57,273, Philadelphia ranks fifth in the nation for the ratio of salaries to cost of living.
That ranking gives local employers “the unique opportunity to attract the best talent at a significant bang for their buck,” said Matthew Knowles, First VP at CBRE, in a statement. “In addition, during the last five years VC funding exploded, with the region raking in growth of 557 percent compared to the national average of 345 percent, yet another indicator of ironclad investor confidence in the city’s life sciences companies.”
Those in Philly’s life sciences sector have long been calling for more space to accommodate the quickly growing industry. We heard late last year that the demand for life science labs and facilities was at an all-time high, and developers were trying to keep up. Philadelphia has an existing 10 million square feet of life sciences inventory with plenty of in-development projects that would add to that count. With more professionals working in this space, this demand will only grow.