Resources / Science

Philly ranks 8th among the country’s top life sciences clusters

Real estate firm CBRE took a look at the key stats around Philly's life sciences industry. Here's the good (and not so good) news.

Life sciences. (Photo by the University of Michigan, used under a Creative Commons License)
With 51,000 people working in the life sciences industry, Philly’s home to one of the top talent pools in the country for that sector, beating out both New York City and Los Angeles.

The stat is one of several promising numbers in a recently published report from commercial real estate firm CBRE. In the research firm’s ranking, Philly landed the No. 8 spot in a ranking of life science clusters in the country, sitting just behind the New York metro area and peeking above Los Angeles and Chicago.

In the 17-page report, titled 2019 U.S. Life Sciences Clusters, the best news for Philly seems to be in the venture capital space. Between Q1 2017 and Q3 2018, VC funding for Philly-based life sciences companies rose by 485 percent, which put life sciences funding in Philly at its highest level since 2007. Only the D.C.-Baltimore corridor had stronger momentum.

“Philadelphia is undoubtedly one of the nation’s key clusters fueling the life sciences revolution,” said Ian Anderson, CBRE director of research and analysis and the primary author of the report. “At the same time, the region has been lagging some of the exponential growth witnessed in hubs like Cambridge.”

Still, Anderson said, last year was one of significant advancement for the local life sciences space, and the expectation is that the spike in funding and large talent pool will accelerate future growth.

Another positive mark on Philly’s outlook when it comes to life sciences is its lab space inventory. Per CBRE stats, after last year’s opening of 3675 Market St., Philadelphia has the fifth largest inventory of laboratories in the country, at 9.6 million square feet.

(According to real estate firm JLLPhilly and its suburbs are home to some 137 million square feet of office space.)

For life sciences sector boosters, the results of the report pair nicely with last week’s news: Gene therapy developer Spark Therapeutics was acquired by Swiss drug maker Roche in a deal valued at $4.8 billion. According to data supplied by financial data provider PitchBook and the Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT), the deal is the largest exit ever for a VC-based company within city limits.

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