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Life Science: Trends in the Industry

September 23, 2019 Jessica Tagliafierro

Across the United States the life science industry continues to grow rapidly. Through our work, we often encounter communities and organizations looking to leverage their strengths to capitalize on changes in this industry to support local and regional economies. One of the biggest themes related to these changes and other trends in the industry is the technological advancements that are occurring and being applied to a diverse cross section of fields. Read on to learn more about these trends.

Defining Life Science

The life science industry, is diverse and includes a wide variety of activities, ranging from health sciences and biomedical research to biotechnology and other related fields. The central theme across these industries that unites them under the umbrella of “life science” is that they are comprised of the study of living systems and organisms. Defining such a broad industry can be difficult, and may even vary from region to region or state to state. Based on our work, we have defined the life science industry to generally include the following NAICS codes:

  • Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing (32541)
    • Medicinal and Botanical Manufacturing (325411)
    • Pharmaceutical Preparation Manufacturing (325412)
    • In-Vitro Diagnostic Substance Manufacturing (325413)
    • Biological Product (except Diagnostic) Manufacturing (325414)
  • Optical Instrument and Lens Manufacturing (33314)
  • Navigational, Measuring, Electromedical, and Control Instruments Manufacturing (33451)
    • Electromedical and Electrotherapeutic Apparatus Manufacturing (334510)
    • Analytical Laboratory Instrument Manufacturing (334516)
    • Irradiation Apparatus Manufacturing (334517)
  • Medical Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing (33911)
    • Surgical and Medical Instrument Manufacturing (339112)
    • Surgical Appliance and Supplies Manufacturing (339113)
    • Dental Equipment and Supplies Manufacturing (339114)
    • Opthalmic Goods Manufacturing (339115)
    • Dental Laboratories (339116)
  • Medical, Dental, and Hospital Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers (42345)
  • Opthalmic Goods Merchant Wholesalers (42346)
  • Testing Laboratories (54138)
  • Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering and Life Sciences (54171)
    • Research and Development in Nanotechnology (541713)
    • Research and Development in Biotechnology (except Nanobiotechnology) (541714)
    • Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences (except Nanotechnology and Biotechnology) (541715)
  • Medical and Diagnostic Laboratories (62151)
    • Medical Laboratories (621511)
    • Diagnostic Imaging Centers (621512)
  • Blood and Organ Banks (621991)

The life science industry, which according to this definition represents nearly 1.5% of jobs in the U.S., is a well-paying industry whose job growth has outpaced that of the overall economy. Total earnings of $124,395 are almost double that of total earnings across all industries ($66,902). 10-year job growth of 12% is compared to total job growth of 8%.

Of the subindustries that comprise the life science industry, Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences is the largest contributor to the total number of jobs, representing 19% of life science jobs. Medical, Dental, and Hospital Equipment and Supplies Merchant Wholesalers and Medical Laboratories have exhibited the strongest job growth over the last 10 years, with both subindustries adding over 50,000 jobs each.

Current Market Trends

Some of the recent trends impacting the industry are highlighted below.

Transformative Technologies

With the growing advancements in software and technology in recent years has come a renewed focus on how new technologies can add value to the life sciences. With this, a digital transformation of the industry is occurring across all subindustries, including health and patient care. The following are just a few examples of the many technologies that are transforming the industry and contributing to the rapid pace of change.

Artificial Intelligence (AI): Helps with the intelligent use of data. In the patient space, it can help with diagnoses, treatment planning, patient monitoring, and drug discovery.

Internet of Medical Things (IoMT): There is a rising number of connected medical devices and advances in software and connectivity. This has led to advances in treatment, diagnoses, and patient monitoring.

Software as a Medical Device (SaMD): By providing multiple medical functions new software is allowing patients to play a more active role in their own health care and at times has outperformed diagnoses of clinicians.

Blockchain: This is being used as a way to aggregate and share data more securely and easily.

Race for Talent

As evidenced by the data, life sciences are an increasing driver of employment across the country. This puts pressure on local, state, and regional officials, economic developers, and trade organizations to attract the right talent. In this strong labor market, it has become increasingly important for these stakeholders to demonstrate to life science companies that the workforce is available to meet their current and future hiring needs. Bridging the talent gap between the supply of qualified workers and the demand for these workers is critical.

On the plus side, the diversity of the industry means that there are well paying positions in the industry across a variety of education levels and requirements.

Academia Contributing to R&D

What is not captured in our above definition of the life science industry is the thousands of individuals employed by higher education institutions that work in the life sciences. Academics working in this industry have made significant contributions to scientific innovation across the life sciences, including in genetic and cellular therapies. As researchers continue to expand on existing research, academia’s role in this space will only continue to grow.

Collaborative Ecosystem

The life sciences are increasingly becoming a collaborative ecosystem. The connectivity is being driven by technology changes as the industry moves towards a more digitized and connected model. Collaboration among technology companies, healthcare providers, policymakers, and researchers has never been higher.



2019 US and Global Life Sciences Outlook. Deloitte. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/life-sciences-and-health-care/arti…

Key Life Science Industry Trends in 2019. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, 9 Jan. 2019. https://www.genengnews.com/news/key-life-science-industry-trends-in-2019/

Life Sciences Industry Trends & Outlook. Jones Lang LaSalle. https://www.us.jll.com/en/trends-and-insights/research/life-sciences-ind…


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