SAN FRANCISCO – (March 10, 2015) – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) has put out its annual Top Biopharma list and the “Big 3” again hold leading positions. This year, Boston takes the #1 position from the Bay Area (#2) while San Diego comes in at #4 on their list.

GEN ranks regions based on five criteria:

  • NIH funding—Taken from the publicly available NIH RePORT database, for the current federal fiscal year, from its start on October 1, 2014, through February 9.
  • Venture Capital (VC) funding—Taken from figures furnished by the publicly available MoneyTree Report.
  • Patents—Based on the number of patents containing the word “biotechnology” awarded since 1976 in namesake cities and suburbs where key companies are located.
  • Lab space—Based on total-size-of-market figures, in millions of square feet, furnished by the commercial real estate brokerage JLL in its Life Sciences Cluster Report for 2014.
  • Jobs—Based on JLL’s report. While job numbers are ranked this year compared with last year’s Top 10 US Clusters list, less weight has to be given to job totals in regions where GEN has found widespread discrepancies in job figures. However, workforce size was factored in when deciding the ultimate position of a region.

The “Big 3” went as follows:

“#4. San Diego

The city that calls itself “America’s Finest” and surrounding area had its best score in venture capital funding (number-three at $494.46 million in 42 deals), and also did well in patents compared to three much larger regions (fourth with 2,644). Where the region slid on the scale was in NIH funding (seventh at $90.899 million), jobs (sixth at 46,145 according to JLL)2, and lab space (fifth at 9.5 million square feet), though that will grow when sequencing giant Illumina completes the San Diego manufacturing center announced over the summer. The job numbers appear to reflect layoffs at home-grown companies in recent years (400 former Amylin Pharmaceuticals employees were laid off in 2013 following the company’s sale to Bristol-Myers Squibb).

#2. San Francisco Bay Area

The region of the Golden Gate and vicinity tops the field in patents (8,851), only 19% of which are the 1,683 patents held by the Trustees of the University of California. SF finishes a very close second to Boston-Cambridge in 2014 venture capital ($1.816 billion in 110 deals) and fourth in NIH funding ($143.996 million) and jobs (50,038 according to JLL).1 While the region was also pegged fourth in lab space with 10.89 million square feet of lab space, that’s an awful lot lower than recorded in past years (29.7 million, according to the 2014 GEN List). So let’s split the difference and say 20 million square feet, which would catapult SF to a very close second behind New York/New Jersey. But no less than 2.797 million square feet is under construction in NY/NJ, so in a year or two, depending what gets built in the Bay Area, we could be looking at a new leader in lab space.

#1. Boston-Cambridge

The Red Sox region’s 5,002 patents were second only to the San Francisco Bay Area. But more like the region’s Super Bowl-winning New England Patriots, Boston/Cambridge was number-one on three measures—2014 venture capital, albeit by only $4 million more than the Bay Area ($1.82 billion in 88 deals), NIH funding ($312.797 million), and lab space (21.204 million). Boston/Cambridge’s worst ranking was third on number of jobs [no matter if you go by JLL with 54,008, or statewide industry group MassBio, which counts 57,642], though to be fair, the region lost out to two much larger geographies in NY/NJ and LA.”

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