Life Sciences in the Greater Seattle Region
by Evan Philip
The Greater Seattle region is one of the five largest life sciences clusters in the country and is the fifth largest industry sector in Washington State. More than 500 biopharma, medical technology and research organizations are based in Washington, with 74 cities in the state hosting life science organizations. The life sciences industry in our state has contributed approximately $7.1 billion to personal income and $11.4 billion to the state’s GDP. As of 2014, this industry supplied more than 34,200 direct jobs to Washington workers, with an average salary that is $30,000 more than other sectors (WBBA 2014 Annual Report). With such a significant impact on our state’s success, this industry will be the one to watch in the coming years.
Why we are unique
The Greater Seattle area boasts one of the largest concentrations of life sciences companies in the United States. The region has been particularly successful with its research and development efforts in the industry and distinguished worldwide as a place dedicated to furthering knowledge in life sciences. Some of the world’s best research institutions call the Seattle area home, such as the University of Washington, Washington State University, and the innovative Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center (Fred Hutch). The groundbreaking work that is produced by these institutions continuously proves our region’s worth in the industry. In 2008, Dr. Cassain Yee of Fred Hutch discovered that “that he could use a patient’s own infection-fighting T-cells to put advanced melanoma into long-term remission” (Fred Hutch). It is this sort of research and discovery that has placed the Greater Seattle area on the map as a prominent life sciences industry.
The main hubs
South Lake Union has recently undergone extensive redevelopment to transform the community into a center for biotechnology and research, which has begun to attract worldwide attention. In the next year, the South Lake Union hub will see the addition of the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the expansion of Novo Nordisk, which will produce jobs for hundreds more biotech workers. Most recently, BioMed Realty, our city’s first global health organization, began the process of acquiring a new building in South Lake Union for $90 million (CNBC). Bothell, another hub in our region, is home to the world’s largest dedicated independent contract manufacturer of biologic, CMC Biologics. CMC recently signed a deal that will double the capacity of their operations in the city. This magnitude of investment within our region demonstrates the prominence and profitability of our local life sciences industry.
Philips, a Dutch diversified technology company headquartered in Amsterdam, is the second largest producer of ultrasound equipment globally and the sole producer of all the ultrasound systems within Washington State. Their Bothell location, which directly employs approximately 2,000 people, has made significant contributions to the development of the life sciences industry, such as their new generation of ultrasound equipment. The Bothell branch of this global healthcare giant also produces automated external defibrillator equipment, cardiac care equipment, and oral healthcare products. Another distinguished company in our region is Seattle Genetics, which is the industry leader in “antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), a technology designed to harness the targeting ability of monoclonal antibodies to deliver cell-killing agents directly to cancer cells” (Seattle Genetics). The work that Seattle Genetics has done with ADC technology has influenced other collaborators in the field, with 25 different ADCs in development using the exclusive approach that Seattle Genetics developed. It is revolutionary companies like these two that drive a massive amount of funding into the life sciences sector.
In 2014, over $906 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to Washington was awarded to 65 companies within the state (National Institutes of Health). The University of Washington was the recipient of 938 NIH awards of more than $437 million (National Institutes of Health), which is more than 48% of the total funding received by the state!
To learn more about our region’s life sciences industry, sign-up for the Life Science Innovation Northwest Conference taking place this June 30 & July 1st, 2015.