JoelMarcusJoel Marcus, the longtime head of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, sees few near-term challengers to the established biotech hubs of Boston, San Diego and San Francisco.

Joel Marcus built a real estate empire on the life sciences industry’s steady growth. Over three decades, his company Alexandria Real Estate Equities has amassed tens of millions of square feet of office and laboratory space in drug development hubs like Boston, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Those holdings have given Alexandria a front row seat to biotech’s boom over much of the past decade through to the sector’s pandemic highs and more recent downturn.

“Too much money over too long a period went into the industry in a way that created too many companies pursuing too many opportunities. That never ends well,” said Marcus. “What the industry has learned through the shakeout of the last two years is more discipline at the front end of forming companies.

BioPharma Dive spoke about biotech’s outlook with Marcus and with Whitney Snider, a doctor and former Celgene business executive who oversees Alexandria’s venture investments. The following conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

BIOPHARMA DIVE: Biotech’s geographic clusters are well known. Where do you see the sector expanding?

JOEL MARCUS: The key problem non-established clusters have is you need four elements to make a cluster really work. You got to have a great location. You got to have a deep talent pool, both scientific and managerial. You got to have risk capital and you’ve got to have great science and technology. Very few places have all four of those.

You’ll find that in places like Philadelphia, you can start a company there, but you really can’t scale. You can’t find the talent to scale. We just moved a billing company to San Diego because it ran into that exact problem. It’s not an infrastructure problem. It’s a talent pool problem that limits new clusters from emerging and succeeding.

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