Philadelphia Business Journal
By John George

The Philadelphia region again ranks among the top 10 in a trade publication’s assessment of the country’s top markets for biopharma activity.

Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) ranked Philadelphia seventh on its top 10 list of biopharma clusters, down one spot from its sixth-place finish in 2019 when GEN last published its analysis.

The report measures U.S. cities and regions based on four quantifiable factors: funding for life sciences, patents awarded, lab space and number of life sciences jobs.

The top 10 clusters, according to the report are:

  1. Boston
  2. San Francisco Bay Area
  3. New York/New Jersey
  4. Maryland/Virginia/Washington, D.C.
  5. San Diego
  6. Los Angeles/Orange County
  7. Greater Philadelphia
  8. Seattle
  9. Raleigh-Durham
  10. Chicago

Here’s what the publication had to say about Philadelphia:

“The City of Brotherly Love and its suburbs emphasize their concentration of companies and institutions focused on cell and gene therapy, with good reason. As of 2020, Greater Philadelphia was home to 36 cell and gene therapy companies, pioneering researchers, and a cell and gene therapy workforce of approximately 4,900 that could grow by up to 11,274 in 10 years, according to a report by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia’s regional CEO Council for Growth, the University City Science Center, and University City District’s West Philadelphia Skills Initiative.”

The Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News analysis stated the sector’s growth also explains why the Philadelphia region has more than 1 million square feet of new lab space under construction. The projects include Brandywine Realty Trust’s 14-acre, $3.5 billion Schuylkill Yards campus across from Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, and One uCity Square, a $280 million, 13-story lab-office building being developed by Wexford Science & Technology with University City Science Center and Ventas.

Other building projects cited were The Discovery Labs at the former GlaxoSmithKline research and development site in Upper Merion, which is now focused on cell and gene therapy; the 600,000-square-foot Spring House Innovation Park in Lower Gwynedd Township; and the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center of Bucks County, which is expandingwith the construction of a $19 million, 15,000-square-foot lab building.

The Philadelphia region’s highest category rankings among the factors considered for the analysis were fifth place in lab space, at 23.37 million square feet, and tied for fifth in venture capital funding with Seattle at about $2.9 billion. The region placed sixth in patents with 5,148, and eighth in both NIH funding (2,991 awards totaling $1.48 billion) and jobs (69,565).

Chris Molineaux, president of the Wayne-based industry trade group Life Sciences Pennsylvania, said the GEN ranking again highlights Philadelphia’s “enviable position in biotech,” particularly in cell and gene therapy, lab space and venture funding.

“It also underscores the highly-competitive nature of business attraction for these well-paying jobs that truly make a difference in the lives of patients,” he said. “It’s a new arms race, a race for arms … and legs — the unique talent to create and grow life sciences companies. Philadelphia must continue its strong effort to attract start-up, life sciences CEO talent to maintain its competitive position.”

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