US pharma hubs: The rising stars to watch

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT


Related tags CPhI North America Us Manufacturing Pharmacology Food and drug administration Active ingredient

CPhI North America 2022 host city Philadelphia is set to become one of the world’s biggest cell and gene therapy manufacturing hubs. But it’s just one of many centers of innovation that are helping drive the US pharma and biopharma industry.

The big four – San Diego, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Boston – are now joined by globally significant hubs elsewhere in the States.

Why are these hubs a big deal? The knowledge sharing and opportunities are unparalleled, giving the next generation of American start-ups the chance to grow and shine, notes CPhI’s report, ‘US Pharma Market, 2022 and Beyond’, published ahead of this year's show.

“Unquestionably, the source of the US preeminence in the pharma industry stems from its giant centers of innovation,” ​says the report.

These centers, coupled with centrally organized incubators, have helped knowledge dissemination and provide tremendous opportunities for new biotech start-ups.

"In fact, the country has been incredibly successful in rejuvenating and adding new hubs of pharmaceutical innovation in addition to the traditional big four.”

It picks out Texas, Los Angeles and Chicago as among the hubs to watch, while there's also plenty of activity in Washington and North Carolina.


Texas’ scale, workforce and institutions have made the state a leader in biopharma innovation, cancer research and more, according to the Texas Economic Development Corporation.

More than 5,200 biotechnology and life sciences related manufacturing and R&D firms operate in the state. Among the industry leaders, Kimberly-Clark and Celanese are based in Irving. Merck recently established an Austin office to redefine health care with digital innovation and acquired Dallas-based cancer drug developer Peloton Therapeutics for $2.2bn.

Houston is home to Texas Medical Center, the largest medical complex in the world. And fueling the state’s talent pipeline – ranked #1 for medical and clinical lab technologies – are six medical schools among the country’s top 100.

Los Angeles

In California, the Bay Area and San Diego are already well-established biotech hubs.

In 2014, a report from the Battelle Memorial Institute identified Los Angeles County as having many of the key ingredients necessary for advancing bioscience development: such as several leading academic medical centers and a sizeable non-clinical industry base with skilled workers.

According to Biocom California's 2020 report, the life sciences sector had a $60bn economic impact, covered 96,000 direct jobs and attracted $1bn in NIH research funding.

Read more about Los Angeles here.


Chicago is now fast becoming a draw for life science companies: poised for further growth and in CGT in particular.

In fact, in recent times, tens of billions of dollars have flooded into the Midwest to accelerate life sciences innovation, and Illinois is ranked in the top 10 states in funding from the US National Institutes of Health.

More about Chicago's potential here.


Nearly 40,000 researchers and support staff work at 1,150+ biotech firms, nonprofits, medical device manufacturers, digital health companies and pharmaceutical firms in Washington state.

There are also 170 global health organizations, including the Gates Foundation, and leading research institutions such as the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Allen Institute,  and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

There is 9.9 million square feet of existing lab space and an additional 990,185 under construction. Another 5.2 million square of lab, research and office space is proposed for development.

“In many respects, it’s an entrepreneurial space ripe for innovation and invention,”​ says the Washington State Department of Commerce, the state. “There is a growing convergence between the life science and global health sectors and artificial intelligence, cloud computing, machine learning and other technologies, which are Washington’s strengths. New devices, treatments and therapies are rapidly prototyped and introduced in the marketplace.”

North Carolina

The state currently boasts 94 biopharma manufacturing sites employing 28,000 people: ranking it the third in the US for pharma manufacturing.

In particular, Research Triangle Park is now the largest research park in the US with 7,000 acres housing more than 300 companies: not only in biopharma but also in wider science and technology sectors.

The cell and gene therapy industry in particular has been spurred on by bringing together expertise in academia and investment.

The Research Triangle now has everything needed to bring gene and cell therapies to market: through from conception to commercialization. An early start in the industry has helped the sector, with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill one of the original birthplaces of gene therapy research and now home to the UNC School of Medicine Gene Therapy Center, founded in 1993 by pioneer R. Jude Samulski, PhD.

The ​roster of related companies​ includes Audentes (an Astellas company), Beam Therapeutics, Biogen, Cellectis, Jaguar Gene Therapy, Kriya Therapeutics, Novartis Gene Therapies, Sio Gene Therapies, StrideBio and Taysha Gene Therapies.​ 

Related topics Biopharma Culture

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