Life science continues to grow in Texas while technology falters

Headlines announcing major setbacks in Texas tech investment send shivers through the real estate and construction sectors. Despite this, the state has a bright and steady future ahead of it in medical services and biotechnology.

The November issue of the Texas Business Bulletin, published by the state governor’s office, highlights world-leading companies such as Kimberly-Clark, McKesson, Galderma, Novartis and Abbott, each with significant operations in the state.

Importantly, medical research continues at a robust pace.

“TMC (The Texas Medical Center) is the largest medical center in the world,” the Bulletin continues. “More clinical studies are conducted at the TMC in Houston than at any other single site in the world. Texas boasts a robust workforce of more than 105,000 and produces 18,000 industry-related graduates through Texas schools annually. These schools produce a whopping $6.6 billion in research and development spending annually.”

In fact, the TMC is expanding. In September, it announced an additional fourth campus, the TMC Bioport, on 500 acres south of Houston and expects to double in size over the next five to 10 years.

“TMC Bioport will provide an on-site education center that will create over 100,000 new job opportunities for residents of the Greater Houston area,” said a press release. “This important initiative is consistent with the expectation that the US will significantly increase its biomanufacturing capacity to ensure easy access to drugs, therapies and medical supplies.”

TMC’s Helix Park, a 37-acre life science campus created by the Boston-based team at Elkus Manfredi Architects and developer Beacon Capital Partners, broke ground in 2020 and expects phase one to be completed in 2023 The facility will be a collaboration between industry, academia and entrepreneurs and upon completion will encompass over 6 million square feet of built space and 18.7 acres of unique public green space.

Houston-based developer Hines, in partnership with 2ML Real Estate, has announced its intention to invest as part of an overall investment commitment of $1 billion.

Plans include research facilities, offices, homes, shopping and dining, outdoor facilities and green spaces, all located at the epicenter of Houston’s biotechnology, life sciences and medical research center.

The Houston area is nationally recognized as the state’s medical and life sciences hub.

According to Commercial Café, Houston ranks 10th among US metro areas in terms of regional talent pool and overall level of development towards expanding life sciences capacity. A report released by the Newmark Group, a New York-based commercial real estate consulting firm, says life science wages in Houston have increased 4.8 percent over the past three years to an average annual wage of $141,623 while life science employment in the region grew 24.6 percent.

Houston’s prominence in medicine and life sciences, however, is narrowly surpassed by Austin.

According to the Austin Chamber of Commerce, the city and surrounding area are currently home to nearly 300 life sciences employers and over 18,000 workers in a balanced mix of growth and research areas.

“Employment in life sciences has increased by 73.7 percent in the last three years,” says the Newmark Group. “Job growth is expected to continue to rise at an estimated 6.5 percent through 2025.”

The Newmark report highlights new developments in Austin, such as the flagship Innovation Tower building in Austin’s Innovation District as the future anchor of the city’s life sciences cluster, along with Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin.

Other notable developments include Parmer Labs, which will deliver 100,000 square feet of laboratory and office space next year, and the conversion of the Highland Mall on the Austin Community College campus into the ACC Bioscience Incubator.

Elsewhere, Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies broke ground on an expanded $300 million vaccine manufacturing facility at College Station on the Houston-Dallas Forth Worth corridor. The facility is expected to be the largest manufacturing campus for single-use contract engineering and manufacturing organizations in North America and could create up to 150 new high-skill jobs.

While the state supports large investments like Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies through its Texas Enterprise Fund, the expansion of educational institutions also tops the list of state support.

In October 2021, Texas passed Bill 52 and issued a $3.3 billion bond package that will provide tens of millions of dollars to several Texas universities in support of building laboratories and research facilities, giving the state a prominent place secured in American medical development.


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