Biotech boomtowns: Comparing salaries and cost of living in 9 global hotspots

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Boston is arguably the top biotech hub in the U.S., but the salaries in San Francisco and New York City tend to be higher. According to recent data, the San Francisco area offers the top average salaries for biotech jobs, followed closely by New York City. But the cost of living in all three cities remains stubbornly high, with New York City taking the cake for the highest overall cost of living in the U.S. San Francisco came in third while Boston was eighth.

Still, while the pandemic hit New York City and San Francisco especially hard, both cities remain competitive biotech hubs. According to Crunchbase data, both areas have especially high concentrations of biotech companies.

While other major cities with strong biotech sectors such as Boston, London, and Paris offer competitive salaries, none are in the vicinity of the average wages found in San Francisco and New York.


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Biotech sees new shoots of growth but has thorns left to prune

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Today, Boston-based Ginkgo Bioworks’ recently unveiled a deal with Pfizer on RNA-based drug candidates, reflecting the growing interest in RNA therapies. Additionally, Carlsbad, California–based Ionis Pharmaceuticals inked a pact with Roche focused on RNA-targeted therapies for Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases. This development underscores the resilience of prominent biotech hubs.

According to data from real estate services firm JLL, also released today, San Diego’s life sciences has seen a steady increase in VC funding in recent quarters, accelerating in the first half of 2023. In Q2 2023, VC funding hit $632 million and has exceeded $1 billion in Q3.

Still, that’s far from the investment peak of $1.94 billion in Q1 2021. Following that boom in the early phases of the pandemic, the San Diego life sciences sector saw its VC funding …

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Take a global tour of 19 major biotech hubs with our interactive map

The biotech sector clocked in at $723 billion last year despite headwinds such as slow launches, long-term drug pricing shifts and changing consumer behavior. Recent biotech breakthroughs include the development of an Ebola vaccine, progress in genetic testing and drug treatments and advances in artificial tissue growth. This article explores several leading biotech centers across the world and examines their distinct attributes and contributions.

1. Boston & Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Innovation Landscape: A powerhouse in the biotech and education sectors, with over 1,000 biotech companies, ranging from small startups to billion-dollar firms. High patent activity reflects a vibrant innovation ecosystem. Academic Pedigree: Home to top-tier universities such as MIT and Harvard, which feed the regional innovation network with a constant flow of scientific talent and research. Investmen…
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