Leading the Way in Life Science Technologies

GEN Exclusives

More »

The Lists

More »
November 07, 2016

U.S. Hot Spots for Biopharma Jobs

Employment Picture Remains the Brightest in Ten Regions

U.S. Hot Spots for Biopharma Jobs

“One of the primary drivers of establishment growth, and overall growth” in biopharma clusters is their pipeline of people capable of filling the industry’s growing number of jobs, says Roger Humphrey of commercial real estate firm JLL. [creatarka/Getty]

  • The biopharma world can be rather unstable, what with blockbuster mergers and companies that fizzle out after generating great publicity, if not great promise. Yet the industry shows remarkable stability when it comes to where its jobs are being created—largely in the same hot spots that GEN has highlighted since the first “Hot Spots” list was published in 2013.

    These 10 are among 16 top-tier life sciences clusters recently spotlighted by commercial real estate firm JLL in its 2016 Life Sciences Outlook report, released over the summer. Employment was the single largest factor, accounting for 40% of the weight of a region’s ranking—consisting of 20% employment concentration, 10% employment growth, and 10% establishment concentration.

    “Especially in larger clusters, there’s a lot of venture funding available, but one of the primary drivers of establishment growth, and overall growth, is the talent pipeline,” Roger Humphrey, executive managing director and leader of JLL’s Life Sciences group, told GEN.

    Academic institutions are key sources of talent for that pipeline, which Humphrey said is increasingly influencing decisions on where companies locate, in terms of both site selection and infrastructure amenities.

    Following is this year’s GEN List of top 10 U.S. regions in which to secure a biotech job. While the list is unranked, GEN identified the areas most frequently cited in biotechnology and pharmaceutical job listings, scrutinizing five employment websites—LinkedIn, Bio-Space, Medzilla, Indeed, and Monster—as well as regulatory filings, public announcements, and news reports.

    Two regions (Denver and Houston) showed enough strength to be just outside the top 10, among up-and-coming regions whose continued growth could merit their inclusion on future GEN job hotspot lists, as were Indianapolis and Jupiter, FL, the latter a region spotlighted by GEN earlier this year. For the top regions listed, the numbers of jobs advertised has increased since last year’s list.

  • Boston/Cambridge, MA

    Number of jobs: 86,235 (JLL); 63,026 (Massachusetts Biotechnology Council or MassBio)

    Six months after Boston/Cambridge topped GEN’s List of Top 10 U.S. Biopharma Clusters, the region finished number one in commercial real estate firm JLL’s annual Life Sciences Outlook Report, in no small measure based on job activity. A parade of biopharmas this year brought a steady stream of good expansion and relocation news to the region and the rest of Massachusetts—starting with GE’s headquarters move from Fairfield, CT, to Boston’s Fort Point. GE cleared its most recent regulatory hurdle October 5, when the Boston Civic Design Commission approved the look of the new HQ, where about 800 employees are expected to be based.

    Since Labor Day, Verily (formerly Google) Life Sciences disclosed plans to base its new $500 million “Onduo” diabetes joint venture with Sanofi in Cambridge, while Cambridge-based Moderna Therapeutics announced plans for a GMP messenger RNA (mRNA) clinical manufacturing facility in Norwood, MA, that will employ 200. The state selected the nonprofit Worcester Business Development Corp. to transform the former Worcester State Hospital campus into a biomanufacturing facility with up to 500 jobs. The Bay State’s biopharma workforce grew 4.2% last year, to a total 63,026 jobs, according to the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio). Not all regional biopharma employment news is good: Cambridge-based Merrimack Pharmaceuticals said October 3 it is cutting its workforce 22% while a few days earlier, Waltham, MA-based ImmunoGen began eliminating 65 jobs, 17% of its workforce.

  • Chicago

    Number of jobs: 53,054 (JLL)

    The past year has seen several upbeat announcements by growing biopharmas. Horizon Pharma in February opened its U.S. headquarters in Lake Forest, IL, with 300 employees—up 100 from a year earlier—and plans to grow its stateside workforce to 530. Vetter in July disclosed plans to hire up to 500 employees for a $320 million, 1.1 million-square-foot facility that the contract development and manufacturing organization plans to build in Des Plaines, IL. The facility would be the second U.S. manufacturing site for the company; its first is a 70-person plant in another Chicago suburb, Skokie, IL.

    Next year, Valent BioSciences, a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sumitomo Chemical Co., plans to open a $22 million primary research facility, or “Global Innovation Center,” at Innovation Park: Lake County in Libertyville, IL. The site will start with 40 employees shifted from the company’s current research site in Long Grove, IL, and is expected to grow over time. Also in 2017, Fresenius Kabi plans to break ground next year on an approximately $250 million, 10-year expansion of its Melrose Park, IL, manufacturing site, which makes generic, sterile injectable pharmaceuticals. Among new biopharma resources in the region is the Patient Center opened in February by Illinois Biotechnology Industry Organization (iBIO®) and the iBIO Institute, with the goal of advancing clinical development by connecting patient groups, drug developers, and clinical research institutions.

  • Los Angeles (includes Orange County, CA)

    Number of jobs: 120,688 (JLL); 99,049 (California Life Sciences Association)

    The Southland region anchored by the “City of Angels” has grown in biopharma beyond giants like Amgen and Allergan. Up-and-coming, LA-based Kite Pharma in June opened a commercial manufacturing facility in El Segundo, CA, next to Los Angeles International Airport, that will produce chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies and T-cell receptor product candidates for clinical trials and enable commercialization of lead product candidate KTE-C19. But Baxalta—now a Shire subsidiary—in March began idling 239 employees from Los Angeles as well as Thousand Oaks, CA, and Van Nuys, CA.

    The region’s biopharma leaders have projected the industry could generate 4000 permanent jobs if they can establish the East Los Angeles research hub that the University of Southern California and other biopharma anchors have discussed publicly for 4 years, in collaboration with California Institute of Technology (CalTech) and the Los Angeles Unified School District.

    Also interested in biopharma is Los Angeles County, whose Board of Supervisors on October 4 approved $3 million to match a private funding commitment toward an incubator being created by the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute (LA BioMed) with the California Life Sciences Association (CLSA) on the campus of County Harbor–UCLA Medical Center. CLSA last month opened its first office in the region, in the Monrovia, CA, incubator of Lab Launch, after San Diego-based Biocom expanded into Los Angeles by opening its own regional office over the summer. Three industry groups now operate in the region, including the Southern California Biomedical Council (SoCalBio) founded in 1995. 

  • New York (includes portions of New Jersey)

    Number of jobs: 127,308 (JLL; combination of four regions: New Jersey, New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County)

    Most of the New York region’s jobs (61% or 77,326) are in New Jersey, where cancer immunotherapy developer Advaxis on September 9 formally opened a manufacturing facility in an expansion of its Princeton, NJ, site. In New York City, the Alexandria Center for Life Science plans to open an R&D site for 25–40 startups next year with $25 million in seed funding from Alexandria Venture Investments. The change of the New York City mayorship from Michael Bloomberg has some biopharma leaders questioning the city government’s commitment to the industry, the Financial Times reported in May. But under Bloomberg’s successor, Bill de Blasio, the public–private New York City Economic Development Corp. last year expanded to $150 million, and formally launched, the City of New York Early-Stage Life Sciences Funding Initiative—conceived in the Bloomberg era—with capital from NYCEDC, Celgene, GE Ventures, and Eli Lilly.

    In New York’s Westchester County, biopharma is dominated by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, which last month announced plans for yet another expansion. The company plans to build an additional 1 million square feet of R&D space on a 100-acre site bought by the company and adjacent to its Tarrytown, NY, headquarters. On Long Island, Fougera Pharmaceuticals, part of Novartis’ Sandoz unit, said in March it would break ground by year’s end on an $88 million expansion of its Melville, NY, facility that will consolidate operations now split between there and Hicksville, NY, as well as retain the company’s nearly 400 existing jobs and allow for additional jobs following completion, set for 2020.

Related content