The CEO Council was pleased to again contribute to Big4Bio’s annual 2021 Philadelphia Year-in-Review report by providing a look forward to what we might expect in the region’s life sciences industry, including the cell and gene therapy sector, in 2022. The outlook is reprinted below and the link to the full report, as well as reports for the Boston, San Francisco Bay, and San Diego markets, can be found on Big4Bio’s website.

“These Year-in-Reviews reflect the constant growth of the life science industry in these Big4Bio regions and also help provide important information for 2022 planning and more,” said Tilton Little, CEO of BigBio Communications and publisher of Big4Bio. 

In the 2021 Philadelphia review, Big4Bio noted a six-percentage point increase in five-year enterprise growth, 1,852 life sciences companies in the market, and 71,539 employees. “Venture investment in life sciences companies in Greater Philadelphia increased by an astonishing 250 percent in 2021 – far more than any other Big4Bio market,” the report said. It also noted $1.17 billion in National Institutes of Health grants.

The CEO Council-authored 2022 outlook, which is printed on page eight of the Philadelphia report, follows.

Collaboration in Greater Philadelphia’s life sciences sector will continue to focus on a coordinated and targeted response to the coronavirus pandemic as the region’s health care providers, research institutions, manufacturers and distributors contribute their knowledge and expertise to the global effort. Resources from the region include decades of research and discovery by industry pioneers in the areas of coronaviruses, vaccine development, and messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology, with the success of the mRNA vaccines underpinned by discoveries made by researchers with ties to the region. 

The growth of telemedicine, which greatly accelerated as a result of the pandemic, has benefited from the region’s contributions too, including innovation and education to improve access to quality care. Leadership in telehealth will continue to provide models and set standards for the Covid era and beyond.

As the birthplace of cell and gene therapy, and home to the first FDA-approved cell therapy and first FDA-approved gene therapy, the Greater Philadelphia region will continue to make a name for itself as a global hub for breakthroughs in this space. It wouldn’t be surprising to see new firms in this sector appearing on the regional scene or FDA approvals arising from among the 41 cell and gene therapy R&D companies that already call the area home. Applications for these therapies may extend beyond rare genetic diseases to conditions affecting broader populations. 

No doubt the region will continue to hold its place as a leading recipient of federal funding for life sciences research. In the last two years, much of the funding has been directed to Covid-19 and related initiatives, and that will likely continue well into 2022.

Private funding for Philadelphia-area companies soared last year, both in terms of overall dollars and the sheer number and diversity of investors. According to biopharma database company DealForma, more than $12 billion was invested in life sciences companies in the Greater Philadelphia region last year. Of that total, more than $3 billion was invested in the cell and gene therapy sector. This is another trend that is expected to continue in 2022.

Robust investment will continue to spur real estate development, not just for lab space, but also for manufacturing centers that will help the region become a fully integrated ecosystem with capabilities from research through commercialization, production and manufacturing. The region has already seen commitments for these developments and is looking forward to more projects in 2022. Such efforts will continue to be supported by the regional Cell & Gene Therapy and Connected Health Initiative, a multi-year effort focused on advancing the region as a geographic center for talent, capital and companies.

The need for talent will remain acute, but the Greater Philadelphia region, through the Initiative, will continue to proactively address the workforce development needs with upskilling and mentorship programs, an employer-led Life Science Talent Pipeline Collaborative, and strategic marketing campaigns targeted to mid-level tech and cell and gene therapy talent. As a result, the region can expect to attract increasing numbers of skilled scientists and other life science professionals to consider making Greater Philadelphia home, attracted by opportunities to work with some of the world’s greatest minds, in top-tier research institutions, and live in a place with a great quality of life.