From Illinois Investment Guide 2021

The Medical MECCA

Illinois offers assets that attract companies in the life sciences.

Image: Getty Images

When your state is home to big names like Abbott, AbbVie, Baxter and Medline, your reputation as a global life sciences leader is secure.

But Illinois is not content to just play it safe and remain secure. Advances in medical research made possible by significant corporate and institutional investments are propelling the state to even greater heights in life sciences.

Consider the following recent investments:

  • Illinois recently committed to spend $15.4 million to advance wet lab space for life science companies.
  • Rosalind Franklin University’s Sience and Innovation Research Park in North Chicago is a 100,000-sq.-ft. building designed to promote collaboration among academic and industry scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs. The Research Park recently announced a partnership with financial support from AbbVie and then signed its first long-term tenant.
  • Sterling Bay recently opened The Labs, a redeveloped 125,000-sq.-ft. medical research lab in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. After multiple lease agreements, Sterling Bay released plans for another 320,000-sq.-ft. research facility at nearby Lincoln Yards.
  • The Illinois Science and Technology Park in Skokie continues to renovate and improve lab space, as does the University of Chicago’s Polsky center.
  • Fulton Labs broke ground on a 423,454-sq.-ft., 16-floor building that includes 12 floors of advanced wet and dry lab space in Chicago’s Fulton Market district.  

These investments are happening because Illinois has the fundamental assets to attract R&D and manufacturing in the life sciences. For example, the state ranks No. 8 for research expenditures in science and engineering, and Illinois has more than 100 biopharma companies that are growing. Meanwhile, the Illinois Medical District ranks as one of the largest urban medical districts in the country, and more than 22,700 workers are employed in scientific research and development in the state. 

Altogether, about 964 establishments statewide are engaged in life sciences work and employ personnel at an average annual wage of $121,579.

According to a recent article in BioSpace, Chicago now ranks as one of the eight best cities in the U.S. for biotech employment. “The city is witnessing a substantial increase in early-stage life sciences companies, called biotech startups,” the report states. “Most of these startups stemmed from high-end universities like the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, proving themselves as some of the country’s most impressive life sciences newbies. Also, Chicago boasts its strength as a leader in the biotechnology sector, which gained 1,423 jobs and added four companies between 2015 and 2016. The city also received over $738 million in National Institutes of Health grant funding in 2016.” 

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.


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