5 Best U.S. Regions for Life Science Jobs

5 Best U.S. Regions for Life Science Jobs February 16, 2017
By Mark Terry, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Although it’s possible to find life science jobs anywhere in the U.S., it’s also absolutely true that there are clusters of life science jobs—specifically biotech and pharma jobs—around the country. They often revolve around academic institutions that produce top talent, proximity to venture capital, and have governments and communities that encourage life sciences companies.

For example, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News pulled together five variables from several different sources to create a list of the “Top 10 U.S. Biopharma Clusters.” Those variables included NIH funding, laboratory space, venture capital funding, patents and jobs.

For more than 30 years, BioSpace has developed its Hotbed campaigns, which also highlight thriving clusters in the life science industry. There are obvious overlaps.

Recently, financial and professional services firm JLL, which specializes in commercial real estate services and investment management, published a report, “Life Sciences Outlook 2016.” JLL evaluated eight factors in determining its top 16 U.S. life science clusters. Those factors and their weight include:

8 Factors in Determining the Top 16 U.S. Life Science Clusters
Employment concentration
Venture capital funding
NIH funding
Employment growth
Establishment concentration
Market occupancy rate
Average Asking Rent
Rentable Lab Supply

Top 5 U.S. Regions for Life Science Jobs
Greater Boston
San Francisco Bay
Biotech Bay
Bio NC
San Diego
Biotech Beach

What follows is a discussion of the Top 5 U.S. Regions for Life Science Jobs based on the results of the JLL report.

1. Greater Boston
Weighted score: 87.5
The Boston area, and specifically Cambridge, is well recognized as having the highest concentration of biopharma companies in the U.S. As a BioSpace HotBed, it is known as Genetown. Within Cambridge, the Kendall Square neighborhood has been cited as “the most innovative square mile on the planet.”

According to JLL, there are 86,235 total life science jobs at 2,136 establishments in this Massachusetts region. Year-over-year (YoY) employment growth is 1.3%, with a growth in establishments YoY of 12.7%.

The JLL report states, “Boston’s economy is fueled by a large concentration of healthcare professionals, including more than 30,000 scientists and other workers employed directly in biotech. Over the last decade, the life sciences industry has added more than 22,000 jobs, putting Boston at the top of tech and science capabilities.”

The list of big biopharma companies in Genetown is extensive, including AstraZeneca , Amgen , Moderna, Momenta, Biogen , Sanofi , Merck Research Laboratories and others. Academic institutions include Brigham and Women's Hospital, UMass Amherst, Boston University, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University.

A quick search through job listings shows a minimum of 96 current job postings ranging from District Sales Manager with AstraZeneca to Director/Senior Director Neuroscience for Xenon Pharmaceuticals to Pre-Clinical Animal Technologist for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Boston: 5 Best U.S. Regions for Life Science Jobs

2. San Francisco Bay
Weighted score: 75.2
The San Francisco Bay area, JLL notes, “boasts some of the largest life sciences companies.” As a BioSpace HotBed, it is known as Biotech Bay. It currently claims 67,738 total life sciences jobs at 1,601 establishments. The YoY growth rate for employment is 6.4%, with the YoY growth for establishments at 5.7%.

JLL writes, “In addition to fostering the next generation of life sciences companies, some of the nation’s existing top talent live and work in the Bay Area. With 50 percent of the workforce focused on the research and development of new technology, the region attracts some of the nation’s best and brightest scientists, researchers and engineers.”

Big names in the region include Roche /Genentech , Gilead , Bayer , Boehringer Ingelheim, Novartis , Jazz and numerous startups. Academic institutions include San Francisco State University, Stanford, UC Berkeley and the University of California, San Francisco.

A current job search for the area lists 389 jobs, including Portfolio MSLs for Novartis Oncology , Senior Scientist, Cancer Immunology for CytomX Therapeutics, and Research Associate II - Cardio-Renal and Metabolic Diseases for Merck .

San Francisco: 5 Best U.S. Regions for Life Science Jobs

3. Raleigh-Durham
Weighted score: 60.7
JLL says, “North Carolina has become a worldwide hub for the international life sciences industry. It is home to more than 600 life sciences companies statewide with 12 of the companies that opened or expanded in the past year coming from outside the United States.” BioSpace’s HotBed for Research Triangle Park and North Carolina is called Bio NC.

JLL notes there are 35,073 jobs at 929 establishments. YoY growth rate for employment is 6.6% and for establishments, 6.3%. “North Carolina’s life sciences jobs are growing three times faster than the national average, up 6.6 percent from 2012 to 2014,” JLL writes.

It’s also a big area for contract research organizations (CRO), including Catalent Pharma Solutions, INC Research, PPD , Duke Clinical Research Institute, Quintiles and RTI International.

Well known companies include Rho, BioAgilytix, AstraZeneca and Biomerieux. Institutions include Duke University Medical Center, North Carolina Biotechnology Center, UNC Wilmington and UNC Chapel Hill.

In Bio NC, AstraZeneca is currently looking for a District Sales Manager in Respiratory Biologics.

Raleigh-Durham: 5 Best U.S. Regions for Life Science Jobs

4. San Diego
Weighted score: 58.3
JLL writes, “San Diego is one of the leading life sciences markets in the nation. The San Diego market continues to see demand for life sciences facilities with more than 1.4 million square feet added in the past 12 months and 1.1 million square feet under construction.” The BioSpace HotBed for San Diego is Biotech Beach.

JLL indicates there are 64,690 life sciences jobs at 1,414 establishments. The YoY growth for jobs is actually -3.1%, but the YoY for establishments is up 3%. JLL notes, “Life sciences employment grew at a faster rate than total private employment, 5.6 percent compared to 2.7 percent respectively.”

Well known names in this region include Amgen , the Lilly Biotechnology Center, the Southern California Biotechnology Center, Celgene , Johnson & Johnson and Genea Biocells. Academic institutions include UCLA, USC, UC Irvine and The Salk Institute.

A quick scan shows 108 job openings, ranging from Associate Director, Biostatistics with Johnson & Johnson, Senior Scientist, Immunology/Immuno-Oncology at Celgene, to Senior Research ScientistCalporta for COI Pharmaceuticals.

San Diego: 5 Best U.S. Regions for Life Science Jobs

5. Seattle-Bellevue
Weighted score: 56.3
JLL says, “Although home to many large life sciences institutions, the Puget Sound life sciences industry is driven by small to mid-sized companies that are experiencing dynamic growth driven by significant innovation.” Its BioSpace HotBed is BioForest.

JLL estimates there are 24,320 total life sciences jobs with 1% YoY growth and 959 establishments with 8.1% YoY growth. “Employment has grown by 1 percent year-over-year, as life sciences startups continue to pop up and established companies such as Seattle Genetics and NanoString Technologies continue to ramp up hiring.”

Companies in the BioForest HotBed include Gilead , Seattle Genetics and ZymoGenetics . Academic institutions include Washington State University and the University of Washington.

Currently there are job postings such as Postdoc Fellowship-Computational Systems Biology for Celgene, Senior Medical Director, Clinical Development for Seattle Genetics, and Diabetes Sales Specialist for AstraZeneca.

There are a number of other factors people take into account when looking for jobs, including proximity to family, cost of living and weather. What the JLL report suggests, however, is that the U.S. has a vibrant and robust life science employment market in numerous locations.

Seattle-Bellevue: 5 Best U.S. Regions for Life Science Jobs

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