Top 10 Life Science Metros in the U.S.

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The life science sector is witnessing rapid growth as demand for its products and services soars. Hence, an intense search is underway for talent and commercial real estate to house new and existing life science companies.

To see which U.S. metropolitan areas are best suited for this, CommercialCafe compared 45 major metros across the country. They took into account life science educational attainment and employment, existing commercial square footage, including LEED-certified space, office rents and vacancy rates, in addition to local life science development pipelines.


Below are the top ten metros for life science companies, divided by region:

The East Coast Dominates the Top Ten

Looking at the map, it’s clear that most of the best life science metros in the U.S. are split between the east and west coasts. Making up 50% of the top ten, the east coast just about wins out.

Boston Takes Pole Position

Ranking high across all metrics, Boston takes first place with 75.35 points out of 100. The Boston metro boasts the strongest life sciences labor force and is sixth in terms of educational attainment. It’s also the largest life sciences real estate market, with 24.8 million square feet of office space in Boston dedicated to the sector. More than half of that space is LEED-certified, seeing the metro take the top spot in this respect too. With a significant expansion in the pipeline, Boston is a life science hub with a bright future.

New York (#4)

Holding a score of 33.64 points, the New York metro boasts the second largest number of people employed in the life science sector, with just shy of 2.5 million residents having science and engineering degrees. Meanwhile, with almost 2,700 life science graduates leaving college and joining the workforce each year, the metro enjoys a superb talent pool, not to mention a higher number of life science graduates than any other metro.

Washington DC (#5)

With 33.59 points, the Washington DC metropolitan area is the fifth best for life science companies. However, holding high scores in the life science educational attainment and the life science property development pipeline, DC has fantastic growth potential. With almost 7.9 million square feet of life science real estate in the construction pipeline and planning stages—the third highest for this metric—the current stock is set to grow by 200% in the near future.

Philadelphia (#7)

Scoring 29.07 points, Philadelphia ranks as the seventh best metro for life science companies. Its highest score refers to life science properties under development, with 5.4 million square feet due to be delivered over the next few years. This sees Philadelphia ranking fourth in this respect. Existing life science properties make up 2% of the metro’s local office space, one of the highest shares in the ranking. Known as a green market, it also ranked well in terms of LEED-certified buildings.

Raleigh (#8)

Just behind Philadelphia, Raleigh scored 29.06 to take eighth place in our ranking. It’s the second-fastest growing large metro area in the country and an up-and-coming life science hub. With life sciences accounting for more than 7.1 million square feet, or 8% of local office space, Raleigh boasts the third largest market share of this kind. There’s also plenty of potential for growth, with an additional 3.7 million square feet of life science developments in the construction pipeline.

West Coast Isn’t Far Behind

While the east coast sees the most metros making the top ten, the west isn’t far behind, with San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle taking second, third and ninth places, respectively.

San Francisco in Second Place

With a score of 46.89 points, San Francisco is home to the largest talent pool in the rankings. Around 944,200 residents hold at least a bachelor’s degree in science and engineering. This sees San Francisco boasting the third-largest life science workforce of all the areas listed. Just under 13.8 million square feet of office space is home to life science companies, a market share of 7.3%, bumping the metro to second place. And, with an additional 11 million square feet of life science real estate in the construction pipeline, it also boasts the second-largest expansion.

San Diego (#3)

San Diego earned 40.47 points that secured it third place. The metro is home to 12.3 million square feet of life science office space, accounting for 11% of the total office market share. Further growth is expected, with an additional 4.5 million square feet of life science projects in the construction pipeline. This will result in a 40% expansion of the current stock.

Seattle (#9)

The Seattle metropolitan area obtained 27.94 points to come in at #9 on our list. It boasts top-ten scores in talent metrics, but it ranks highest in terms of local life science real estate. The metro is home to the eighth-largest construction pipeline, with around 2.8 million square feet of space under development. This will bolster the current 4.9 million square feet of life science real estate, which account for 3% of the local stock.

Other Top Life Science Hubs

Chicago (#6)

Scoring 29.48 points, Chicago takes the #6 spot. With around 1 million residents holding a Bachelor’s degree or higher in science and engineering, educational attainment was the metro’s strongest suit, ranking fourth overall. In addition, nearly 2.9 million square feet of the metro’s office market house life science companies, with 1.1 million square feet being LEED-certified.

Houston (#10)

With a score of 27.49 points, Houston comfortably rounds off the top ten. Houston boasts 2.3 million square feet of office space dedicated to life sciences, making up less than 1% of the local market share. However, a further 817,000 square feet is currently under construction, the 12th-largest life science construction pipeline on the list.

For an overview of the office and shared spaces market in the areas mentioned in this study, visit the links below:

Office space for rent in Houston

Coworking in Boston

Coworking in NYC

Coworking in DC

Coworking in San Francisco

Coworking in San Diego

Coworking in Seattle

Coworking in Chicago

Coworking in Houston

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