Where do scientists want to work? See which cities join Boston, and learn how FMs can play a role in attracting talent

by Brianna Crandall — August 4, 2017 — When you’re in the business of life sciences innovation, highly trained human capital is worth every penny. That’s why life sciences companies large and small continue to pay top dollar for amenities-rich locations and facilities in the top U.S. life sciences markets, according to global specialized real estate services and investment management firm JLL’s latest Life Sciences Outlook. Because innovation relies on happy and productive people, location and workplace culture have risen as key priorities for life sciences leaders. As such, it’s no surprise that the Greater Boston region is once again the number one life sciences market in the United States.

According to Don Domoretsky, executive vice president in JLL’s New England Life Science Practice:

The Greater Boston market is among the top life science markets in the world, and leads the U.S. with the largest concentration of life sciences researchers. Perhaps more so than any other region, we possess an unparalleled mixture of world-class academic institutions, top-notch research facilities, and a tight-knit medical community — a combination that has proved to be the key in developing leading life sciences clusters.

The report found that life sciences professionals have high expectations for their workplace. It’s now important for companies to choose the right location and shape an engaging workplace. In fact, creating workplaces focused on the “human experience” is a competitive imperative in an era of growing business pressures, says JLL.

What can facilities managers (FMs) do to help?

FMs can contribute to a positive workplace that attracts and retains qualified talent by helping create innovative, collaborative spaces with a fully functioning digital experience; giving workers more choices and control over their individual workspace; and ensuring a comfortable, safe and efficient work environment.

Roger Humphrey, executive managing director and leader of JLL’s Life Sciences group, stated:

With Millennials often at the center of talent recruitment, life sciences companies are seeking spaces that improve employee well-being. Some are following the lead of technology companies and are creating workplaces that engage, inspire, attract and retain talent, because the people are the business.

Despite high lab rents, which are now $75.05 PSF in East Cambridge, and research and development (R&D) costs, life sciences executives continue to face pressure to decrease operational costs and maximize efficiency. Growing revenue and achieving sustainable growth means making calculated bets amid pending U.S. healthcare legislation and political uncertainty. These trends, a ranking of the top U.S. life sciences cities and submarkets, and an analysis of the industry landscape are all revealed in JLL’s sixth annual Life Sciences Outlook.

Top U.S. life sciences clusters

Greater Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area continue their reign as the top U.S. life sciences clusters. They share common characteristics such as world-class academic institutions, top-notch research facilities and a tight-knit medical community. Once again, talent and resources propelled these cities in the top 10 U.S. life sciences clusters in 2017:

1 Greater Boston Area
2 San Francisco Bay Area
3 San Diego Metro Area
4 Raleigh-Durham Metro Area
5 Philadelphia Metro Area
6 Suburban Maryland/Metro DC
7 Los Angeles/Orange County
8 Seattle Metro Area
9 New Jersey
10 Minneapolis – St. Paul Metro Area
11 Chicago Metro Area
13 Westchester County
14 Denver Metro Area
14 New York City
15 Long Island
16 Central & Southern Florida

Human capital is king

The demand for highly skilled labor and a limited pool of candidates has driven sustained wage growth. The average annual salary for R&D professionals has reached $135,000 in the past five years, while the average salary in the sector has increased 19.2 percent.

Many life sciences companies remain in top-tier clusters despite rising lab rents and R&D costs, indicating that talent is the top priority. Given the high cost of replacing valuable research talent, many companies are prioritizing locations, facilities and workplaces that improve the well-being of employees, and some landlords are responding with grand life sciences parks in the suburbs, while others are focusing on the development of urban lab space.

In the Seaport, for example, Related Beal’s Innovation Square (iSQ) project will offer 375,000 square feet of LEED-designed space aimed at attracting established biotech companies as well as smaller firms seeking incubator space. The Seaport submarket also boasts a strong high-tech presence, which offers an extension to a different type of talent pool.

JLL’s annual Life Sciences Outlook tracks geographic shifts in life sciences innovation, operations and facilities investments, including an analysis of markets actively investing in their life sciences sectors. It includes a ranking of the top U.S. life sciences clusters, as well as an analysis of global trends. The complete findings of the Life Sciences Outlook are available in a dedicated microsite.