San Diego remains the country’s third largest power in life sciences


San Diego County remains the nation’s No.3 life sciences hotspot, with the industry’s rapid rise virtually unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to two recent reports.

Commercial real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle ranked the top 10 life sciences markets in the United States based on factors such as the number of residents in each region with a university degree in science; the concentration of employees and life science companies; the amount of investments made in local businesses and universities; and the total space of the laboratory.

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Greater Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area retained the top two spots in the Sept. 15 JLL rankings. This is no surprise, as Boston and the Bay Area have long been considered the best biotech hubs in the country, just behind San Diego.

“Each of these three clusters continued to grow and succeed in a similar fashion: business creation, venture capital, funding for the National Institutes of Health, employment,” said Joe Panetta, CEO of the life sciences business group. Biocom California.

And while some areas, such as the Raleigh-Durham region, also have top-notch research universities, Panetta says they don’t have quite the same culture of entrepreneurs who start and grow businesses quickly. before embarking on their next business.

Biocom released its own report on Monday measure the impact of the life sciences industry on the California economy. The report found that the industry employed nearly 500,000 Californians in 2020 and grew by about 0.5% while the state’s overall workforce shrank by 7% due to the effect crippling pandemic on the economy.

This divide between life sciences and other industries was even more pronounced in San Diego. The county’s life sciences workforce grew from around 68,000 employees in 2019 to around 72,400 at the end of last year, a 6% increase. Meanwhile, the overall workforce fell 10 percent, according to the state’s employment development department.

About one in 30 San Diego residents work in the life sciences. These jobs are well paying at a time when many residents are struggling to find housing. The average life sciences employee earned $ 127,000 in 2020; the median household income in the county is around $ 84,000, according to the American Community Survey.

The Biocom report estimates that the local industry generated nearly $ 48 billion in total economic activity last year, up from $ 41 billion in 2019. This figure takes into account the direct and indirect impacts of science companies. life on the economy of San Diego. Similarly, the life sciences sector helped support 178,000 local jobs in total.

While the Bay Area and San Diego are widely regarded as the state’s two main biotech hubs, the report found that the industry is also growing rapidly in Los Angeles County, where there are 97,000 science employees. of life. Los Angeles companies, universities and research institutes have contributed nearly $ 2 billion in funding to the National Institutes of Health, the highest total of any county in the state, followed by San Diego County with $ 1.2 billion.

“Life sciences” is a catch-all term that includes small biotechs, large pharmaceutical companies and manufacturers of medical devices. The term also applies to contract manufacturing and research companies, as well as companies that manufacture test tubes, glass beakers, and other equipment essential to any laboratory.

Biocom’s latest economic impact report, prepared by Point Loma University economist Nazarene Lynn Reaser, uses a slightly different definition of what counts as a life science company than previous reports, which could slightly affect some of the numbers.

Panetta believes San Diego is locked in third place for the foreseeable future. But there are ways that could change, he says, such as forming a thriving downtown biotech community.

“One of the constraints to growth in San Diego has always been housing density,” he said. “They have licensed facilities in southern San Francisco in 10, 12, 15 story buildings. We don’t have that here. But if we see increased density, we might see increased growth. “