Big4Bio, which added Philadelphia to their geographic coverage areas in June 2019, recently debuted it first Year in Review report for our region.  According to Tilton Little, executive director and publisher of the free, daily Big4Bio emails, “Looking back over 2019, there is no question that the Greater Philadelphia market has earned its place among the top life sciences clusters in the U.S.  In a year where venture capital was down across the board, VC investments in life sciences companies in Greater Philadelphia nearly tripled.  And the value of early stage investments nearly doubled.  On top of that, Philadelphia witnessed the largest M&A investment of the year: the $74 billion take out of Celgene by Bristol Myers-Squibb.”

In addition to the Philadelphia market, Big4Bio also covers Boston, San Diego, and San Francisco, and the year-end overviews for the four markets shared some interesting comparisons.

Of the four markets, Philadelphia has the most life science graduates with 5,600, compared to 5,500 in Boston, 4,300 in the San Francisco Bay Area, and 2,700 in San Diego.  Tracking average salaries, Philadelphia leads at $128,000, followed by San Francisco at $127,000, Boston at $124,000, and San Diego at $108,000.

Boston takes the top spot for NIH funding with $2.4 billion in 2019, followed by Philadelphia and San Francisco who tied for second place with $1 billion each.  San Diego received $921.1 million.

According to the recap, stories about big deals and the prominent role of cell and gene therapy companies in the region were the most-clicked stories on the newly launched Philadelphia newsletter.

The report also detailed the region’s top deals as follows:

  • Century Therapeutics, a cell therapy company targeting cancer — $250 million in a Series A round in July.
  • Passage Bio, a genetics medicine company that targets rare monogenic central nervous system diseases — $115.5 million in a Series A round in February and $110 million in a Series B round in September.
  • Sonnet Biotherapeutics, a cancer antibody company — $100 million in a private placement in August.

The year’s mergers and acquisitions were also featured:

  • Bristol-Myers Squibb’s $74B buyout of Celgene in January 2019
  • Gene therapy company Spark Therapeutics’ acquisition by Roche in February 2019 in a deal valued at $4.3 billion.
  • In June 2019, Contract Research Organization Genesis Drug Discovery and Development’s acquisition of a majority interest in NexusPharma, which develops patient derived cancer xenograft models for drug development (value not disclosed).

In addition to the year-end summaries, the reports include outlooks for 2020.  Among Tilton Little’s notes for Philadelphia, “Life sciences companies in the Greater Philadelphia area are booming thanks to their leadership in developing new and innovative treatments and cures. It is important that they engage with lawmakers to develop drug pricing policies that both reward innovation and protect patients from unmanageable costs.”

Check out the Year in Review reports for the four markets: