Life Sciences Industry Continues To Thrive

Locations attract biotech, pharmaceutical, and medical device companies by meeting their need for educated workers and access to resources.

By Nora Caley
From the March/April 2024 Issue


Life sciences businesses are very healthy these days. Advances in research, testing, and manufacturing in the pharmaceutical, biotech, medical devices, and related industries continue to generate high-wage jobs and boost local economies.

In 2021, U.S. biosciences workers earned an average of nearly $126,000 per year, according to the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), which is 85% greater than earnings by counterparts in the overall private sector. The total economic impact of the biosciences industry on the U.S. economy, as measured by overall output, totaled $2.9 trillion in 2021.

The life sciences industry encompasses several sectors that focus on the study of living organisms. Businesses in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and other areas, develop innovations that benefit human health and play a role in the agriculture, energy, and environmental industries.

Life Sciences Industry Locations
(Photo: Adobe Stock/Fgnopporn)


Various factors will continue to drive growth in the life sciences industry, according to CBRE’s “U.S. Life Sciences Outlook 2024.” The number of clinical drug trials in the U.S. has stabilized after a 2021 surge, but remains elevated. Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working to clear its backlog of drug approvals, and approvals can lead to more company formations.

Funding also continues to grow from entities as varied as venture capital firms and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to CBRE. As life sciences companies gain more funding for research, demand for lab space increases. CBRE reported that total inventory of lab/research and development space in nine major markets has grown by 48%, or roughly 59 million square feet, over the past five years. The firm expects construction deliveries of several million more square feet in 2024.

States, cities, and municipalities are eager to attract these companies, which range from innovative startups to legacy businesses, and are highlighting their access to talent and resources. Here are some regions that have successfully attracted life sciences companies.

Montgomery County, MD: 8 Reasons Life Sciences thrive

Located next to the nation’s capital, Montgomery County, MD anchors the third-largest biotech hub in the U.S., and continues to grow its footprint and investments. When businesses seek the ideal location to launch or grow their life sciences companies, Montgomery County is a top choice for consideration.

AstraZeneca recently expanded its operations in Gaithersburg in Montgomery County, MD at this facility. The global biopharmaceutical company will also invest $300 million for a new manufacturing facility in Rockville in the county. (Photo: AstraZeneca)

Here are eight reasons for life sciences companies to choose Montgomery County:

Access to top talent. With 1 million residents, Montgomery County has an exceptional workforce, with more than 33% of adults having earned an advanced degree, including 26,000 biotech workers. Maryland also has one of the highest percentages of doctoral degrees and one of the highest concentrations of STEM jobs in the country.

Other life sciences leaders. Top global companies are already here. AstraZeneca is investing $300 million in a state-of- the-art manufacturing facility to launch life-saving cell therapy platforms in the U.S. United Therapeutics announced a $100 million expansion in Silver Spring to establish a major organ production facility. Amgen acquired Horizon Therapeutics through a $28 billion deal and is now building its North American technical center in Rockville.

Strategic partnerships. Companies can leverage strategic partnerships to fuel the growth and expansion of their business, and access a robust network of well-established companies already in Montgomery County. These include Lonza, Catalent, MaxCyte, AstraZeneca, and Saint-Gobain. Strategic collaborations often serve as catalysts for life science enterprises, facilitating pivotal alliances that might enhance opportunities for product development and commercialization.

“Compare our rents in Montgomery County to the top three. We are nearly half what those rents are in Boston and San Francisco. There’s a reason why people want to come here.”

— Pete Briskman, Executive Managing Director/Co-Lead, JLL’s Mid-Atlantic Life Sciences Practice

Proximity to the world’s most important health federal agencies. With both the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Montgomery County, life sciences businesses can benefit from establishing meaningful connections and get real-time access to the latest developments. The NIH and the FDA are just two of 18 federal agencies headquartered in the county.

Incentives — and a first. Montgomery County is first in the country with a local biotechnology investment tax credit, along with dozens of others. Businesses can explore the Biotechnology Investor Incentive, Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) match programs, the New Jobs Tax Credit and many more.

A magnet for funding and VC investment. Investors recognize the strength of Montgomery County companies and are eager to fund the scientific advancements developed in the county. In 2023 alone, local businesses generated more than 100 deals, totaling $2.2 billion.

Global companies find a U.S. base in Montgomery County. Companies from around the world find a U.S. home in Montgomery County, including Aurinia (Canada); Autolus, AstraZeneca, and GlaxoSmithKline (U.K.); Qiagen (Germany); Nobelpharma (Japan); Genetron and Tasly Pharmaceuticals (China); GMED (France); and Macrogen (South Korea).

The most federal labs of any state. With 36 federal labs in the county and 82 in the state, companies can find unparalleled tech-transfer opportunities. These assets support businesses looking to partner with federal labs for research and development and technological breakthroughs.

When price is a factor, Montgomery County has the winning edge.

“Compare our rents in Montgomery County to the top three,” said Pete Briskman, Executive Managing Director and Co-Lead for JLL’s Mid-Atlantic Life Sciences Practice. “We are nearly half what those rents are in Boston and San Francisco. There’s a reason why people want to come here.”

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