Because it tends to contribute high-paying jobs and significant growth potential, the life sciences industry – which includes biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, life sciences research and development, medical devices, and healthcare services – can provide many benefits to an area’s local economy.

According to Greater Philadelphia Life Sciences Cluster 2009: An Economic and Comparative Assessment, recently released by the Milken Institute, the Greater Philadelphia Region ranks second in the nation for its strength and presence in this industry. The Milken rankings are based on a composite index, which takes into account number and growth trends of establishments, employment, and several output measures.

As the authors of the report point out, “cutting-edge R & D, high-tech manufacturing, and medical services are not only providing new treatments; they’re creating millions of high-paying jobs along the way.”

“The purpose of the study was to define Greater Philadelphia’s opportunities and challenges in life sciences by measuring the region’s progress since the 2005 study, and to serve as a guide for strategic planning for further development of the sector.”

Philadelphia’s pharmaceutical industry and research infrastructure both helped bolster the region’s position in the life sciences sector. Among the report’s specific findings:

  • Fifteen percent of all economic activity and on out of every six jobs in Greater Philadelphia can be traced back to the life sciences.
  • After accounting for ripple effects, the life sciences sector in Greater Philadelphia was responsible for generating 380,800 jobs, $20.2 billion in earnings, and $39.7 billion in output in 2007.

The study, released at the BIO International Conference in Atlanta, compares Greater Philadelphia to ten other metro areas recognized as leaders in the area of life sciences. Philadelphia, whose composite score was a 97.7, usurped the Greater San Francisco region (whose composite score was 92.1), which had held the number two position in the previous survey, conducted in 2005.

With a composite score of 100, Boston continues to hold its number one spot on the rankings.

Top Ten Life Sciences Clusters

According to the Milken Institute’s 2009 composite scores, Boston holds the number one spot in the rankings for life sciences clusters. Composite scores are based on employment, output, research and development, investment, and a variety of other measures.

The top ten metro areas include:

1.  Boston

2.  Greater Philadelphia

3.  Greater San Francisco

4.  Greater New York

5.  Greater Raleigh-Durham

6.  Greater Los Angeles

7.  Chicago

8.  San Diego

9.  Minneapolis

10. Washington, DC