Colliers’ Obeid: Report shows N.J. benefiting from recent growth of life sciences sector

With more than $350 million in National Institutes of Health funding — and nearly two dozen real estate transactions of more than 50,000 square feet since 2018, New Jersey’s place in the life sciences sector is still strong, according to the recently released 2020 Life Science overview by Colliers.

The report notes Boston and San Francisco remains the country’s main life sciences hubs, but it said New Jersey has experienced notable growth from emerging pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

John Obeid. (Colliers)

And, as the life sciences industry continues to expand, Colliers Senior Director of Research John Obeid said the state is positioning itself to be the epicenter for this industry.

“As the life sciences industry continues to expand, New Jersey has, and will continue to benefit from the growth,” he said. “These firms are looking to take advantage of the many benefits New Jersey has to offer, such as the state’s experienced workforce, specialized services and supply chain infrastructures.

Some interesting findings from the report developed by Obeid include:

  • There were 22 life sciences transactions over 50,000 square feet, totaling 2.5 million square feet, between 2018-20.
  • New Jersey has seen an uptick in both NIH and venture capital funding for life sciences companies and major research hubs in the state, including Rutgers University and Princeton University. In 2020, NIH funding increased to $352 million, the highest it has ever been.
  • Between 2017 and Q2 2020, the state added 4,605 life sciences jobs, which represents a 4.1% increase.
  • New and emerging life science companies, particularly those in the biotechnology space, have been expanding in the Garden State. This is evidenced by the growing number of biotechnology establishments, which grew to 1,891 in Q2 2020, compared with 1,783 in 2019 and 1,523 in 2018.

Obeid said the steadiness of the sector could be good for New Jersey’s depressed office market.

“While demand is high, the specialized labs life sciences companies require are limited and, as such, they have turned their attention to office buildings to fulfill their space requirements, which has been a blessing to New Jersey’s office market during the current post-pandemic environment,” he said.

“Although mergers and acquisition activity for established pharmaceutical companies have resulted in large blocks of newly available space, new and emerging life science companies have been expanding in the Garden State.”

Obeid notes emerging life science firm TCG GreenChem established a footprint in New Jersey, leasing 54,520 square feet at 701 Princeton South Corporate Center in Ewing, and Genmab expanded by 45,066 square feet at 777 Scudders Mill Road in Plainsboro.

Obeid said Colliers has been actively involved in the sector’s growth, having completed notable deals including signing new tenants at Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center Medical Arts Pavilion and securing Celularity’s move to Florham Park.

These deals were all led by the firm’s life science experts, including Charlie Hatfield, who has developed unparalleled market knowledge, having worked in the industry for nearly 30 years.

“The life science industry still has the potential to create more jobs and further strengthen the state’s economy,” Obeid said. “The growth of startup and midsized pharmaceutical companies, along with gains in the biotechnology industry have been a bright spot for New Jersey’s commercial real estate market during the current recession.”