Greater Philadelphia’s cell and gene therapy hub saw more than $3 billion invested in the sector in 2021, according to data from biopharma database company DealForma. The 17 firms in the region that are reflected in the tally include those performing research and commercial development, as well as a provider of products and services essential to the sector. The deal types range from seed-stage funding for Code Biotherapeutics Inc. to an IPO for Century Therapeutics and a SPAC (special purpose acquisition company) for Renovacor, Inc., in addition to several common stock offerings, several Series A and B rounds, and one Series C round.

Another sector highlight of 2021 was the December 17 announcement by gene therapy company Spark Therapeutics that it will invest $575 million in a new 500,000-square-foot state-of-the-art gene therapy innovation center on Drexel University’s campus in University City, in the heart of Philadelphia. Spark was founded in Philadelphia eight years ago and is a member of the Roche Group. “As part of Spark’s now projected 1 million-square-foot campus in Philadelphia, the anticipated 500,000-square-foot, multi-story building will bring hundreds of the greatest minds in gene therapy together under one roof to drive science forward, challenge the inevitability of genetic disease, and serve as a Roche global center of excellence for gene therapy manufacturing,” the release stated.

To promote the region’s cell and gene therapy talent, the Cell & Gene Therapy and Connected Health Initiative, a project of the Chamber’s CEO Council for Growth and 11 partner organizations, launched its “Discovery Starts With Me” video series in August 2021. The series, posted to social media and featured in a paid LinkedIn campaign, features talent ambassadors from the sector sharing in their own words why they love living and working in Greater Philadelphia. Among those featured in the series are an associate principal scientist at Cabaletta Bio, the co-founder and chief business officer for the Center for Breakthrough Medicines, the director of planning and CMC project management at Passage Bio, and a senior research scientist at Spark Therapeutics. A new video story is released each month.

Also in 2021, the Initiative began featuring interviews with human resources directors at the region’s cell and gene therapy companies who shared stories of anticipated job growth at their companies, interest by talent in working in a sector that is improving and saving lives, and the quality of life attributes of the region. The stories will continue to be included in this newsletter and on social media. The companies highlighted are members of the Chamber’s Life Science Talent Pipeline Collaborative. Member organizations are working together to prepare the region for future job growth.

”Greater Philadelphia is the home of cell and gene therapy. It’s where the sector got its start and continues to lead with our high concentration of world-renowned research institutions, 41 cell and gene therapy R&D companies, and a talent pipeline to support the growth,” said Claire Marrazzo Greenwood, senior vice president of Economic Competitiveness for the Chamber and executive director of its CEO Council for Growth.