GEN’s top 10 U.S. biopharma clusters offer, to borrow the oft-used phrase, something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.
Old is the trio of regions atop the list—the San Francisco Bay Area, Boston/Cambridge, MA, and San Diego. Those regions have usually headed any of a number of top-biotech-region lists published in recent years. New could be New York, which placed at the middle of the list; or new innovation, as in patents awarded, one of this list’s five key criteria. The other four are NIH grant funding, venture capital funding, total lab space in the region, and number of jobs. Borrowed is how investors hope startups view the millions they receive in venture capital—not because startups cannot lose money or go bust (they do often), but because those investors expect repayment, with substantial returns, from the awards.
Blue is how someone who needs solid information that cuts across regions must feel after seeing how fragmented the data is across numerous groups, many of which are advocates for a particular region or a government or nonprofit using the data to justify a larger presence in biopharma. One ambitious attempt at a unified ranking system for biotech regions came more than a year ago from the real estate company Jones Lang LaSalle. But because definitions may differ across regions, users are at risk of seeing cluster comparisons that feel more like another well-worn phrase: comparing apples to oranges.