JLL ranking of US life sciences clusters again puts Boston on top

San Francisco bounces back as No. 2; NJ/NYC/Westchester moves up to No. 5

One of the highlights of the BIO international convention each year is the release of a report from JLL, the international commercial real-estate management and consulting firm, of its ranking of life sciences “clusters”—regions where life sciences companies tend to concentrate. Life sciences (biopharma, medical devices and crop science—the latter in keeping with the BIO organization’s interests there) have been a preeminent attractor of state and regional economic development funds, in part because the lively venture-capital investing (especially of late) takes small labs to big manufacturing/research organizations with high-paying jobs: exactly the kind of industrial development states and cities like to attract.

JLL’s ranking, based on existing company establishments, size and growth of the labor force, federal NIH funding and venture cap funding, again puts the Greater Boston area at No. 1, which it has kept in JLL’s ranking for the past four years at least. The other nine (see chart) do not include new entrants; just a shuffling of the order of them. New Jersey/New York City/Westchester (hey, what about Long Island?), and Los Angeles/Orange County both jumped two slots, while Philadelphia and the Washington DC area both dropped a couple slots.

“As Big Pharma retrenches, small- to medium-sized companies and specialty players are steadily growing, propelling initial public offerings to a volume not seen in years. Across the board, small and mid-size companies are driving most facility development and leasing transactions,” notes the report. The full report, including assessments of leading life sciences areas globally, is available here. JLL also makes a point of highlighting its expertise in IFM—“integrated facilities management” outsourcing. "Huge opportunity exists within the walls of life sciences facilities to further optimize their systems and operations," says Roger Humphrey, practice lead for life sciences at JLL. Although industry has been "reluctant" to engage in IFM outsourcing, continuing cost pressures on overhead expenses are making the practice more attractive.