Recently ranked a Top 10 U.S. Biopharma Cluster by Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News, Chicago hosts six world-renowned medical schools, the largest concentration of physicians and two major federal research labs. Let’s take a look at why the life sciences industry continues to thrive:
Industry giants, right in your backyard
Chicago’s life sciences industry is an exercise in synergy. Filled with publicly traded multinationals (Baxter International, Abbott Laboratories, Horizon Pharma), federal research sites (Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator), world-renowned academic institutions, the 23-acre Illinois Science + Technology Park and leading research hospitals (Rush University Medical Center, University of Chicago Medical Center, Northwestern Memorial Hospital), the Chicago area has the core competency and critical mass for innovation in the biopharmaceutical industry.
The North Shore Nexus
Thanks to high quality of life, a strong workforce and local, regional and global connectivity, North Cook County through Lake County hosts an R&D-heavy cluster of more than 100 biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies and 10 corporate headquarters. These companies have received more than $661 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health and benefit from proximity to five full-service hospitals, averaging 228 beds each, as well as five ambulatory surgical centers.
Highly skilled, college-educated workforce
More than 19,000 life sciences employees across more than 100 firms make up more than 6 percent of employment in Lake County. Companies have little difficulty finding skilled labor, as more than half the Lake County population have at least a bachelor’s degree and more than 12 percent have earned a master’s degree. Life science employees can earn more than $86,000 per year, a large contributor to the county’s median income of $80,525.
Healthy demand and retention
The North Shore vacancy rate has declined slightly to 5.1 percent since 2015, with rents down 5.2 percent year-over-year. Currently, North Cook County has 125k SF of lab space available, with life science users occupying 600,000 square feet. Though large blocks remain available, Valent Sciences plans to utilize 98,000 square feet of research space in the former Motorola campus in Libertyville. The submarket also continues to retain tenants, including Horizon Pharma, which leased 133,000 square feet in Lake Forest.
View Chicago’s 2016 Life Sciences Outlook here.