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Top 10 life sciences markets identified in new study

on November 29, 2011 Source:

What’s the top life sciences market in the country? It’s Boston, according to a new study.

In what’s sure to spark debate and friendly competition among the nation’s life science hubs, real estate and financial services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (NYSE:JLL) unveiled a report ranking the top life sciences clusters. Following Boston were New York/New Jersey, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C./suburban Maryland.

Rounding out the top 10 were Philadelphia, San Diego, Minneapolis, Raleigh-Durham and Seattle.

Jones Lang LaSalle chose six measures as its criteria: high-tech research and hospital/medical employment, science and engineering graduate students per 1,000, National Institutes of Health funding, venture capital funding, R&D spend as a percentage of gross domestic product, and square footage of academic and research facilities. On those measures, Boston was far and away the leader ranking as the top market in all but one category. Massachusetts scores high in financial measures. In venture capital funding, Boston ranked No. 2, behind only the Bay Area. The report also notes that Massachusetts is home to five of the top eight NIH-funded hospitals and has the top five NIH-funded universities.

Jones Lang LaSalle’s home city of Chicago fell just out of the top 10, ranking at 11 overall. But in addition to ranking the top overall markets, Jones Lang LaSalle also identified emerging life sciences clusters in the United States, a list that includes Chicago. While the established U.S. clusters are situated on either coast, the emerging clusters show that the life sciences are taking root and growing in the middle of the country. Illinois, particularly the Chicago area, is home to several top research universities and institutions, and is the headquarters of companies such as Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT), Baxter International (NYSE:BAX) and Hospira (NYSE:HSP). But the report notes that the region struggles to translate its innovation into startups; the startups Illinois does foster often leave as the companies, researchers and graduates choose research hubs on either coast over the Midwest.

Other Midwest markets such as Indianapolis, Houston and Denver are showing enough growth to place as emerging clusters, but still fall short of the top cities when comparing financial measures. For example, the report said that Florida, Minneapolis and Indianapolis have strong life sciences representation “but remain challenged by fragmented framework, most notably lackluster funding from NIH and VC sources.”

North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park region was built on anchors of industry and academia, and that strength is reflected in Raleigh-Durham’s score on the Jones Lang LaSalle report. That it didn’t rank higher is due in part to its size, dwarfed by Boston and the Bay Area. But North Carolina boasts a well-established life sciences industry presence, healthy investment in R&D and a strong pool of researchers and biotech talent fed by the region’s research universities. That multi-pronged approach helped build RTP into an established life sciences hub. It could be a model for the emerging life sciences clusters.

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