GEN logoGenetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN) published a list of the top ten U.S. biopharma clusters this week.  And the top three clusters are (drumroll please…) –

(1) San Francisco, (2) Boston, and (3) San Diego.

BioSurplus operates used lab equipment megastores in each of these three cities, and the ranking is no great surprise.

But these types of lists can, and do, engender controversy.  For example, in reaction to a report published by real estate firm Jones Lang Lasalle based on 2012 data, biotech journalist Luke Timmerman responded with his own study, in which he created a list using criteria he felt to be more meaningful.  In the article he stated that many of these lists are “riddled with flawed and biased methodology, and are usually designed to push a political agenda.”

Whether you agree with him or not, it’s always interesting to take a look at the latest data.

The GEN report is based on research that took into account five main criteria:  patents awarded, NIH grant funding, venture capital funding, total lab space, and the number of jobs in the region.  The following are the ranking results:

  1. San Francisco
  2. Boston/Cambridge
  3. San Diego
  4. Maryland/Suburban Washington, DC
  5. New York City
  6. Seattle
  7. Philadelphia
  8. Raleigh-Durham, NC (Including Research Triangle Park)
  9. Los Angeles
  10. Chicago

You can check out the full list with accompanying stats by clicking here.

Let’s take a look at the markets BioSurplus calls home, starting with number three, San Diego.

#3 – San Diego

BioSurplus’ headquarters are located in the center of the San Diego biotech cluster in Sorrento Valley.  The region placed third in patents, with 1,335, VC funding, at $386 million and lab space, 13.05 million square feet.

The area fell behind in NIH grant funding, however, landing in seventh place at $98.4 million.  The study notes that San Diego is home to UCSD and many research institutes such as Scripps and Salk; the author was surprised that NIH funding wasn’t higher.  It makes sense to me that Boston and San Francisco would take the lead, though, as they are both home to multiple major universities, especially in the Boston Cambridge area.

Finally, San Diego’s BIO affiliate, BIOCOM, counted 56,605 jobs in San Diego County in 2012, expected to grow six percent by this year.  That’s 143 more jobs than Massachusetts.

#2 – Boston/Cambridge

The Boston/Cambridge region, where BioSurplus operates a megastore in Watertown, came in second in the GEN rankings.  Boston/Cambridge ranks first in NIH funding, at $201.4 million, second in patents, with 2,908, VC funding with $979 million, and lab space, 18.687 million square feet.

According to MassBio the area was home to 56,462 industry jobs in 2012.  GEN also points out that a building boom is underway that will add more than 3.5 million square feet of lab and office space when completed.

#1 – San Francisco Bay Area

Number one in the rankings is the San Francisco Bay AreaBioSurplus moved into a large warehouse in South San Francisco last year, from a previous location in Fremont.

The Bay Area comes in first in patents at 3,492 and second in NIH grants at $119.8 million.  The study found conflicting jobs numbers, though.  The California Economic Development Department lists 110,337 “life sciences” jobs in the first quarter of 2013, while another recently released report (which GEN does not identify in the article) cites 47,019.  The GEN study’s authors decided to split the difference and award the area the number one jobs ranking.

With its concentration of biotech, high-tech and venture capital firms, it’s natural that the Bay Area would come in first in VC deals, topping a billion dollars at $1.447 billion.  It also takes the number one spot in lab space, with 29.7 million square feet.

If you’re interested in reading Luke Timmerman’s response to the earlier Jones Lang Lasalle rankings for 2012, you can read the article on Xconomy here.  I found it to be an interesting read and recommend it highly.

Click here to read the bioclusters article on the GEN website.