Boston and San Francisco have long been established as the two largest biotech hubs in the country, research and development houses that have spread their tentacles to every level of the industry. However, as space has grown, these two hubs have placed tighter barriers to entry – meaning cities like Seattle could have the chance to build their own innovation hub.
The Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Triangle is the fastest growing area for life sciences employment, closely followed by the Atlanta Area and the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford Triangle, according to a new report from JLL. The team compared employment rates in the industry between the last five years and the previous five years.
On that assessment, life science positions in the Seattle area increased 3.1% compared to 3% in the Atlanta area and 2.9% in the Central Florida Triangle. In terms of wage positioning – a metric that compares relative wages across biotech hubs – the Seattle area ranked fourth, just behind Los Angeles, the Twin Cities, and the North Carolina Triangle of Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill.
In the JLL report, titled “Life Sciences Emerging Markets Index: Ready for a Paradigm Shift,” the team examined not only the “dynamics” of biotech hubs, but also their abundance of talent and “potential” to attract a workforce .
“While Boston, San Francisco and San Diego will always be a permanent fixture in the life sciences pantheon, the incredible dynamism of the industry is opening up new markets that are of growing interest to life science investors and companies alike due to their lifestyle, cost of living and demographic advantage.” wrote JLL.
In terms of total STEM degrees, the megacities were obviously at the top of the list: New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, DC. The list is rounded off by the areas of Houston and Dallas, San Francisco, Boston, Toronto and Atlanta.
The report also outlined an index of “potential,” which it defined as a matrix of housing availability, an existing millennial workforce, government corporate taxes, and R&D funding for higher education. With this metric, the Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord Triangle in North Carolina has narrowly displaced the Seattle area. Immediately below these front-runners were the Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado area and the Austin, TX area, including two cities along Interstate 35 – Round Rock and Georgetown. A few other surprises on the top 10 list included Boise, ID, and the greater Nashville area.
Part of what defined the potential of these areas was corporate tax rates, and on that front Washington and Texas are ahead. Both states have an enterprise rate of 0% – only North Carolina is close to 2.5%. Meanwhile, California, New York and Texas topped the list of R&D spending on higher education, a landmark in IP manufacturing and business tracking, JLL said.