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Thriving Trends in the Life Sciences Sector

By Nora Caley

The life sciences sector is thriving, with significant advancements in research, testing, and manufacturing across pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, and related fields. These developments not only create high-wage employment opportunities but also stimulate local economies.

In 2021, the average annual income for biosciences professionals in the United States was close to 126,000, a figure that surpasses their counterparts in the general private sector by 85%, as reported by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO). Moreover, the overall economic impact of the biosciences industry on the U.S. economy, in terms of total output, reached 2.9 trillion in the same year.

The life sciences industry encompasses various sectors dedicated to the study of living organisms. Companies operating in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and related fields drive innovation that not only benefits human health but also influences sectors such as agriculture, energy, and the environment.

Multiple factors are propelling the growth of the life sciences domain, according to CBRE. While the number of clinical drug trials in the U.S. has stabilized post a surge in 2021, it remains elevated. Simultaneously, efforts by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to reduce the backlog of drug approvals can lead to increased company formations.

Funding sources, including venture capital firms and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), are expanding, supporting research activities in life sciences. This surge in funding is driving up the demand for laboratory spaces. CBRE’s data indicates a 48% increase in the total inventory of lab and research development spaces across nine major markets, equivalent to approximately 59 million square feet over the last five years. Construction projects are expected to add several million more square feet by 2024.

States, cities, and municipalities are actively vying to attract life sciences enterprises, ranging from startups to established firms, by emphasizing their access to skilled talent and essential resources. Several regions have successfully drawn in life sciences companies, including the following:

Montgomery County, MD: 8 Reasons Life Sciences Thrive

Situated adjacent to the nation’s capital, Montgomery County, MD anchors the third-largest biotechnology hub in the U.S. and continues to expand its presence and investments. When companies are seeking an optimal location to establish or grow their life sciences ventures, Montgomery County emerges as a top contender.


AstraZeneca recently expanded its operations in Gaithersburg within Montgomery County, MD. The global biopharmaceutical company is also set to invest $300 million in a new manufacturing facility in Rockville, located in the same county. (Photo: AstraZeneca)

Here are eight compelling reasons for life sciences enterprises to consider Montgomery County:

  • Access to Exceptional Talent: With a population of 1 million residents, Montgomery County boasts an outstanding workforce, with over 33% of adults holding advanced degrees, including 26,000 professionals in the biotech sector. Maryland showcases one of the highest rates of doctoral degrees and a significant concentration of STEM jobs nationwide.
  • Presence of Industry Leaders: Leading global corporations have established their presence in the region. AstraZeneca’s 300 million investment in a cutting-edge manufacturing facility for life-saving cell therapy platforms and United Therapeutics’ 100 million expansion in Silver Spring to develop a major organ production facility are noteworthy examples. Additionally, Amgen’s acquisition of Horizon Therapeutics through a $28 billion deal and its subsequent establishment of the North American technical center in Rockville underscore the region’s appeal.
  • Strategic Collaborations: Businesses can leverage strategic partnerships to drive growth and expansion, tapping into a well-established network of companies within Montgomery County, including Lonza, Catalent, MaxCyte, AstraZeneca, and Saint-Gobain. These collaborations often catalyze advancements in life sciences, fostering key alliances that 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 Key Health Agencies: Montgomery County’s proximity to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI) offers life sciences enterprises valuable connections and real-time access to the latest industry developments. The county hosts 18 federal agencies, including the NIH and the FDA.
  • Incentives and Innovations: Montgomery County leads the nation with a local biotechnology investment tax credit and numerous other incentives. Businesses can explore programs like the Biotechnology Investor Incentive, Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) match initiatives, the New Jobs Tax Credit, and more.
  • Attractiveness to Funding and Venture Capital: Investors recognize the potential of Montgomery County companies and are enthusiastic about supporting scientific breakthroughs developed within the region. In 2023 alone, local businesses secured over 100 deals, amounting to $2.2 billion in investments.
  • Global Companies Establish U.S. Presence: Montgomery County serves as a U.S. base for companies worldwide, including Aurinia (Canada); Autolus, AstraZeneca, and GlaxoSmithKline (U.K.); Qiagen (Germany); Nobelpharma (Japan); Genetron and Tasly Pharmaceuticals (China); GMED (France); and Macrogen (South Korea).
  • Abundance of Federal Labs: With 36 federal labs in the county and 82 in the state, companies have unparalleled opportunities for tech transfer. These resources support businesses seeking collaborations with federal labs for research, development, and technological advancements.

Montgomery County stands out as a cost-effective choice for businesses.

“Compare our rents in Montgomery County to the top three,” noted 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.”