The recent COVID-19 pandemic is a testament how incredibly important our biopharmaceutical industry is. It was able to produce vaccines in a record amount of time that saved million of lives.

In the past decades, there have been a surge of innovation (and investment) in the biopharmaceutical industry in the US. To put it into perspective, I assembled numbers from Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News and visualized them.

First of all, data were collected about the top US biopharma clusters on the following metrics:

  1. VC funding
  2. National Institute of Health (NIH) funding
  3. Lab space
  4. NIH awards
  5. Patents
  6. Workforce

Those of course are correlated measures, but in mind the most important measures are two: VC funding, and lab space. These two should be able to capture the weight of a geographical cluster.

Here are at the most recent data of the clusters in the US, as of Q1 of 2022.

Let’s look at the funding aspect first.

As can be seen, the Boston/Cambridge and the San Francisco Bay area led the industry by a wide margin. Boston is especially impressive, with almost 50% more funding then the Bay area (24 billion vs 16 billion).

According to Wikipedia, there are more than 1,000 biotech companies, big and small. Of course, Boston also has the top universities as well as renowned large hospital systems.

Another indicator I am particularly interested in is the amount of lab space. In a sense, this is a hard metric – while money can flow in and out in an instant, lab space is a long-term commitment. It suggest the confidence of builders and real estate developers in the prospect of the local biotech industry.

Again, Boston/Cambridge and the San Francisco Bay area lead the pack. The Maryland/Virginia/DC area is surprising good in lab space too, but there is an explanation. It is the home to the headquarters of NIH, which itself has 9.2 million square feet of lab space (out of the 35.5 million in total in the area).

Finally, a comprehensive view of the top 6 areas (to make it more salient, I plotted the top 6 only, otherwise the plot will get a bit too messy):

Note that Boston is high on all the rankings except on employment. I suspect this is because Boston has a higher concentration of startups, as opposed to large pharmaceutical companies that employ many thousands of people, compared to other clusters. Indeed Boston has a reputation of being one of the most innovative in the biotech space.

Acknowledgement: I thank my dear colleague Professor Jay Kim for introducing me to his research in the biotech industry, and for pointing me to the data available.