When you think of life sciences, you usually think of Boston, San Francisco, New York, Raleigh-Durham, and San Diego. The Milken Institute just released a report on the industry [warning: large pdf] and ranked metro areas on current impact, innovation pipeline, and small business vitality. Not surprisingly, all of the cities listed above scored well.

But guess who was #2, just behind Boston? Philly. You got a problem wit dat?

Not only that, but Philadelphia ranked #1 in current impact, due to a nice cluster of mature drug makers like Merck, Glaxo, and Wyeth. We fared 3rd in innovation pipeline and a distant 9th in small business vitality, and we don't have nearly as many of the tinier, more nimble shops that are making a big difference in this industry. So there's still work to do to lay the foundation for future dominance and youthful attractiveness. But this is quite a feather in the cap of a metro area that isn't often spoken of among the upper echelon of cutting edge parts of the world.

If anything, the fact that we're not known for these types of industries is a good thing, because it speaks of a diversified economy that may not get all the sexy press but is in better shape to avoid busts. The sciences, IT, financial services, manufacturing, tourism, eds and meds: we have it all in large quantities, so we might not zig as much when one sector's hot, but we won't zag as much when it cools off, either. And, for a fast-moving global economy, that's not a bad trait for a region, in terms of economic growth and employment base.

Who woulda thunk that the place known for cheesesteaks, Rocky, and attytood would also be a key producer of cutting edge pills, therapies, and devices. Glad to be in the middle of it all, when I start needing some of these advances for my own health.
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