NJ’s Life Sciences Cluster Middle-of-the-Pack says JLL

The real estate giant, JLL (shortened from Jones Lang Lasalle) publishes an annual list of geographic life science clusters – ranked from most vibrant and evolved to viable, though nascent.  They identify sixteen areas.  New Jersey ranks 8th.

JLL’s 2018 Rankings of Life Science Clusters – click for source

This is not the only ranking system available.  Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, for example, provides a “top ten” list for biopharma, but NY and NJ are combined as an area.  There are various lists ranking universities for their prominence in aspects of life sciences.

The presence of research universities is apparently a powerful draw.  According to a survey of JLL clients, nearly 80.0 percent of location decisions were based on being close to the universities and an R&D ecosystem despite the high cost of locating in top ranking areas.

The JLL system weights heavily employment concentration, venture capital funding and total lab supply. Greater Boston (meaning Kendal Square, the rest of Cambridge, Waltham, Lexington, Watertown, outer suburbs and the new Seaport district) and the San Francisco bay area together accounted for two-thirds of life sciences venture capital funding in the entire country. No other market received more than 5%.

Houston made the JLL list this year, proving that moving up in the ranks is possible.  The Texas Medical Center in Houston will break ground next year on a 1.5M SF campus.  Administration will be devoted to pairing researchers and life science industry experts. Orlando has built a 650-acre health and life science campus; other Floridian cities aspireas well.

One aspect of the JLL rankings is rather dangerous from the overall economic health of a region:  10% of the ranking is the concentration of life sciences companies.  In other words, economic diversification is punished, even if the other industries are overlapping sectors such as are prevalent in NJ:  cosmetics, food science, environmental science, biocides and similar chemistry.

Higher rent is also rewarded with a 10% weight.

Not factored into JLL’s calculation:

  • Regulations
  • Smooth procedures for working with the State
  • Cost of Living – including the quality of the public school system
  • Transportation ease and options

Gaming the JLL rankings is not the answer.  Better communication about the State’s total value proposition is.

Comments welcome; write Beth at ekujan@morriscountyedc.org