Life Sciences & Healthcare

Chicago leads the nation in health care services

Sector Strengths

  • CBRE ranks Chicago in top 10 leading life sciences markets nationwide.[i]
  • Chicago is the #1 city for Bioengineers and Biomedical engineers. Chicago ranks in the top 10 nationally for employment of chemists (#6), life scientists (#10), medical scientists (#9), microbiologists (#8), and biochemists (#10).[ii]
  • Chicago MSA has the 3rd largest medical/life science industry, broadly defined, by output and employees – at $72.3 billion and 680,990 employees.[iii]
  • Chicago’s hospital industry is the 2nd largest in the US by employment and represents nearly 1/3 of the local medical/life science industry, at $18.5 billion in GDP with 175,9500 employees.
  • Prior to COVID-19, through 2023, Chicago’s Hospitals sector was poised to grow 0.96%, Healthcare Provider Offices 2.27%, and Home and Residential Care 2.06%.
  • Chicago’s Pharmaceutical and Medicine Manufacturing industry is the 2nd largest in the US by employment, with 19,320 employees and GDP of $10.3B.
  • 2 of the Top 20 Hospitals in the US, Northwestern Memorial and Rush University Medical Center. #1 Rehabilitation Hospital, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. (US News 2020-21 Best Hospitals)


  • CBRE lists 2,964,790[iv] sq ft of R&D space.

Talent Pipeline

  • Chicago produces the 2nd largest number of Health Professions and Related degrees of US cities, with 27,150 graduates in 2019. Including certificate programs, Chicago is 2nd for Health Professions and Related Degrees with 36,595 completions in 2019.
  • There are 20,970 life and physical scientists working in the Chicago MSA.[v]  There are 264,310 individuals working in healthcare positions within the Chicago area.  This is the 3rd largest cluster of healthcare professionals in the nation, which includes the 3rd largest cluster of registered nurses.[vi]
  • Chicago is the #4 city for Biology and Biological sciences degree production, and #4 for Engineering and Engineering Technology degrees.
  • Chicago is home to two of the Top 10 major teaching hospitals in the US, Advocate Illinois Masonic and Evanston Hospital. [vii]


  • Illinois companies spent $4.2B on pharmaceutical, medicine, and other chemicals R&D in 2016, representing nearly 36% of Illinois’s total R&D activities. Food manufacturing R&D received $810M in R&D in 2016, the 2nd highest in the US and growing 45.6% between 2012 and 2016. [viii] (Illinois Science & Technology Coalition)
  • Since 2019, nearly $80M in NSF funded R&D activities across chemical and biological sciences in Illinois were initiated, alongside $8.9M in industrial innovation R&D. [ix]
  • According to Built In Chicago, 378 local health-tech startups have raised $2.34B.[x]
  • NIH funding in 2018 for Chicago-area recipients was $718M.  Excluding federal government recipients, awardees included: Rush University Medical Center, UIC, University of Chicago, and Northwestern University. NSF funding in 2018 for Chicago-area recipients was $103M – $21M of that was for research in biological sciences.
  • Chicago’s Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) builds research teams, matches them with funding, and awards R&D seed grants to principal investigators from University of Illinois system universities and university partners for research in life sciences.  2019 grantees included research for biotechnology and medical research.  DPI projects to have trained and educated over 10,000 students by 2024 and generated over $700M in economic activity through research and innovation programming.  The DPI will focus on data analytics and computing, and their applications in food and agriculture; health and wellness; finance and insurance; and transportation and logistics. [xi]
  • In May 2020, mHUB, MATTER, and 1871, three of Chicago’s premier incubators, announced the Chicago Proactive Response (CPR) COVID-19, a collaborative initiative to develop and accelerate technologies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 300 innovators and front-line experts submitted challenges or technologies in connection to the pandemic. Initial efforts included the design and manufacturing of 6,000 open-source face shields and prototyping a low-cost, fast-production ventilator. The first phase focuses on fighting COVID-19, and the two-year second aims to broaden entrepreneurial training and workforce development programs aligned with larger economic recovery.
  • There is significant activity in Chicago’s wet lab development pipeline. The Labs, a 120,000 wet lab, office, and incubator space came online in early 2020, which is poised to be fully leased by year end[xii].
  • In July 2020, the 423,000-square foot Fulton Labs, comprised of wet lab, dry lab, and office space, broke ground[xiii], while an additional 320,000 square feet is scheduled to break ground in the Lincoln Yards in early-2021. The Bronzville Lakefront development is poised to be anchored by an ARC Innovation Center from Israel’s Shiba Medical Center, which is located in an Opportunity Zone.
  • Chicago is home to one of the largest urban medical districts in the country, the Illinois Medical District. Spanning over 500 acres with 40 healthcare facilities, the IMD is in an Opportunity Zone. [xiv]

Top Life Science Employers[xv]

Abbott Laboratories 9,980
Medline Industries, Inc. 6,800
Baxter 4,400
AbbVie 3,450
Fresenius Kabi 1,500
Pfizer, Inc. 1,350
Siemens Healthcare 900
Stryker 725
CSL Behring 700
Catalent Pharma Solutions 560
Horizon Therapeutics 500


Top Healthcare Employers


Northwestern Medicine 20,341
Advocate Aurora Health 19,390
AMITA Health Medical Group 16,231
Loyola Medicine 9,930
University of Chicago Medicine 9,737
Rush University System for Health 9,628
NorthShore University HealthSystem 6,359
Edward-Elmhurst Health 5,728
Sinai Health System 3,000
DuPage Medical Group 2,200