Life sciences and the Jacksonville region have always been interconnected. From the area’s traditional size and strength in healthcare to fast growing ecosystems in medical device manufacturing, health tech and biotechnology, Northeast Florida continues to drive jobs and capital investments into the life sciences sector from all over the world.
The region’s healthcare history is known for being the home to one of only three Mayo Clinics and one of six Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Centers. Both have continued to grow their footprint in the region with expansion plans that span several years. These anchors have also led to growth from other health systems such as Ascension St. Vincent’s, Baptist Health, Brooks Rehabilitation, HCA Florida Healthcare and UF Health, which has its Proton Therapy Institute set not far from its main operation in Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville region is also a strategic destination for corporate operations in life sciences. Johnson & Johnson Vision’s global headquarters resides in Jacksonville and their operations in the area produce almost 2 billion contact lenses annually. Medical device manufacturers Medtronic, Zimmer Biomet, KLS Martin Group and Thermo Fisher Scientific all have a strong presence in the Jacksonville region as well.
Health tech has also become a key part of the life sciences economy in Jacksonville. Both Availity and Forcura have their headquarters in the region and through Jacksonville’s Open Innovation Center smaller firms and start up health tech organizations are burgeoning and receiving direct access to the largest life sciences companies in the area, increasing the area’s focus on fostering innovation.
Part of the allure of the region for life sciences companies is the proximity to several leading universities like the University of North Florida (UNF), Jacksonville University (JU), Florida State College of Jacksonville (FSCJ), the University of Florida and Florida State University. This provides close access to R1 and R2 level research institutions and a talented pool of healthcare graduates. The University of Florida is also exploring options of a graduate campus in downtown Jacksonville, which would include a medical track.
The life sciences sector continues to be a vibrant part of the Jacksonville region and a key to its long-term growth plans. With the structures, access and talent available in the area, companies of all sizes realize the incredible value of Jacksonville’s focus in life sciences and what it can mean to their success.