San Diego Ranks Third Nationally Among Life Science Clusters

San Diego ranks third among U.S. cities for the economic health of its life sciences cluster, scoring high in a newly issued report on factors including research facilities, funding access and critical mass of startup and midtier companies.

The local region placed behind Boston and San Francisco in the latest annual ranking and analysis by commercial brokerage firm JLL. The report was released during the 2014 Bio International Convention, a global conference of the life science industry that drew more than 15,000 people to San Diego Convention Center, June 23-26.

JLL researchers said San Diego dropped one place from last year’s ranking, largely due to reduced demand for resources by mature companies as smaller enterprises have proliferated in the local region.

Higher life-science employment growth — 15.2 percent versus San Diego’s 2.7 percent — helped the San Francisco Bay Area move ahead of San Diego in this year’s rankings, along with a higher number of life-science patents, said Brian Cooper, senior vice president at JLL.

However, he said San Diego benefits from continued prominence in human genome research, and JLL said the region scored high nationally based on other metrics for 2013, including the concentration of its overall workforce in life science (5.8 percent), life science venture capital funding ($640.6 million), and National Institutes of Health funding ($785.6 million).

“Not only are we home to what MIT researchers have dubbed ‘The World’s Smartest Company’ — Illumina — but the region’s leadership in stem cell research and the mapping of the human genome is second to none,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., in a JLL statement accompanying its life science report.

Cafferty said a local dip in venture capital was partially due to a rise in local biotech companies going public. JLL noted that San Diego had eight initial public offerings completed by life science companies in 2013, compared with just one in 2012.

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