The USA remains the global centre for the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry. Currently the biotech industry is widely spread across North America, although San Francisco and Boston remain ahead the chasing pack. Boston is emerging incredibly rapidly to become the biggest, most connected, leading innovation biotech cluster in the world.
In the 2012, Ernst & Young Beyond Borders Biotechnology Report San Francisco ranked 1st in 6 of the 7 categories with Boston ranking 2nd in the same 6 categories, immediately showing the global presence and influence of both Boston and San Francisco. However, Boston has established itself as the current go-to biotech clusters and is likely to supersede San Francisco as the leading biotechnology cluster in the world. According to the 2012 Jones Lang Le Salle Global Cluster report Boston has already become the leading cluster in the world.
As the global biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry realigns itself, Boston continues to benefit and grow. Speak to any industry luminary and ask why they believe Boston is doing so well and the answer is consistent – CONNECTIVITY. Boston’s success is fuelled by world class universities and research establishments, innovation centres, research hospitals and world class service providers. Boston is home to some of the most famous research institutions in the world with Harvard, University of Massachusetts, Boston University and MIT all present in the region. Harvard and MIT are home to numerous Nobel laureates and world leading researchers. It is no coincidence therefore, that Boston is the leading recipient of National Institute of Health (NIH) funding in the US. In 2012 Boston accumulated over $2.2bn in NIH funding. The funding is shared between the research institutions at the universities and the research hospitals in the cluster. The cluster can boast 5 of the top 8 NIH funded hospitals in the USA. These hospitals are all global market leaders in biotechnology research.
According to estimates, Boston currently employs around 74,000 professionals within the pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology industries and 450,000 in the wider healthcare industry. These people are a mix of research professionals and people working in pharmaceutical companies. The list of companies within the cluster is truly astonishing with a mix of global pharma, emerging biopharmaceutical companies and innovative start-up or early-stage biotechs. Many of the global pharma are anticipating increasing head count in Boston. Pfizer, despite ongoing global restructuring, they are anticipating increasing hiring in the Boston area. Sanofi have committed to building their global oncology headquarters in the cluster, more than doubling its footprint in Boston. Sanofi also purchased Genzyme which accelerated their presence in the cluster. Novartis, despite huge layoffs in 2010 are anticipating increasing head count by 15%. Novartis are already the leading employer in Boston. Following Amgen’s acquisition of BioVex in 2011, they too have also signalled their intention to increase head count in the cluster despite their global headquarters being in California.
Alongside the globally recognised pharma companies, Boston has become home to many medium size companies who are currently showing considerable growth in an otherwise moderate growth industry. Shire, Alkermes, Vertex, Biogen and Millennium (Takeda Oncology Company) are all present in Boston. The cluster has also given rise to some companies which are shaping the industry in multiple therapeutic areas. Companies such as Editas, BlubirdBio, Alnylam, Voyager Therapeutics, Immunogen, Yumanity, are all innovators in the area.
Boston has also become a global hub for biotech investments. Within the biotechnology sector alone, Boston was second only to San Francisco in terms of Q4 2012 venture capital funding in the life science pulling in $278m. Over the course of the year in 2012, Boston accumulated a total of $1.32bn in venture capital funding for the life sciences. Although the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry is global, clearly start-up companies thrive on the local ecosystem. It is no coincidence then that 80% of the total cluster lies within 300sq miles, pointing towards this hyper-connectivity which industry leaders talk of. The result is that Boston has on average three times as many biotech startups per sq mile than San Francisco.
With many venture capital companies like Atlas Ventures, Bain Capital Partners, Fidelity Biosciences, MVM Life Science Partners, PureTech Ventures and Third Rock Ventures, Boston is one of the leading centres for biotech investment.
With the desire of many biotechs to remain as trim as possible, the reliance on outsourcing and service provision is highly important. With service companies like Parexel, Charles River Laboratories, Covance and Perkin Elmer all present in the cluster, biotechs are not short of options to access the expertise they require in pre-clinical, clinical and manufacturing needed to develop their products.
The centre of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals in the cluster is Cambridge. Within Cambridge, start-up biotechs and global pharmaceutical companies have come together. Many companies start in Cambridge and then proceed to move to emerging suburbs within Boston such as the Seaport District, Longwood and the Academic Area. This is primarily due to cheaper rentals for laboratory space, however companies are still close enough to benefit from the considerable talent within the Boston cluster.
The proximity of companies has played a crucial role in the development of the cluster. Talent flows from company to company with many of the leading industry figures having worked their entire careers in the cluster. The proximity has helped to foster a collaborative approach in the cluster with people and companies sharing ideas and innovations, the very exemplar of how the future of this industry will succeed. Having such a close business community means that individuals are happy to put down roots in the area as they know they can always diversify their skills and are in demand.
With world leading academics, companies and world-class talent, it is little wonder that Boston is now being considered in some quarters as the leading Biotech cluster in the world. The Boston cluster has seen considerable growth in the past 5 years and that trend shows no sign of diminishing. Liftstream believes this cluster is an exceptional place to develop a career in the sector and with so many promising companies, it should be a hot-bed for future breakthrough research and innovation.
For more information about the Boston Biotech Cluster please refer to these websites:
For the Jones Lang Le Salle Biotech report please click here
For the PWC Life Science Venture Capital Report 2012 please click here
For the E&Y Beyond Borders report please click here