lucky number 13

Houston maintains a leader in annual life science report

From 2016 to 2021, the Houston area saw the third largest jump in students earning degrees in biology and biomedicine. Photo via Getty Images

Houston is a rising star when it comes to developing homegrown talent in life sciences research.

From 2016 to 2021, the Houston area saw the third largest jump in students earning degrees in biology and biomedicine among 25 major life sciences markets, according to a new report from commercial real estate services company CBRE.

Houston saw a 38 percent spike in the number of degrees granted during the five-year span, according to the report. Only Phoenix (91 percent) and Riverside-San Bernardino, California (47 percent) bested Houston in this category.

The report shows Houston produced the 20th largest number of graduates and certificate holders (1,832) in biological and biomedical sciences in 2021.

Overall, Houston appears at No. 13 in CBRE’s ranking of the top U.S. market for life sciences talent. That matches Houston’s ranking in last year’s report. Factors that go into the ranking include the number of life sciences graduates, concentration of high-ranking universities and institutions, and density of talent.

“We need a strong pool of graduates to continue expanding the life sciences industry in the U.S.,” Scott Carter, senior vice president of CBRE, says in a news release. “The world-class universities like University of Houston, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Rice University, and others offer best-in-class programs for graduates, making Houston a top market for life science research talent.”

In terms of the number of life sciences graduates produced in 2021, the University of Houston ranks first (719 grads) among local colleges and universities, followed by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (244), Rice University (243), the University of Houston-Clear Lake (139), and Prairie View A&M University (103), according to the CBRE report.

If those grads remain in the Houston area, they’re likely to land lucrative jobs. The report outlines average wages in the region for four career categories in life sciences:

  • Biochemist — $118,018
  • Biophysicist — $117,736
  • Biomedical engineer — $108,113
  • Chemist — $97,887

In 2022, Houston employed 8,480 people in life sciences occupations, making it the country’s 12th largest pool of life sciences research talent, says CBRE.

“Demand for life sciences research workers is above pre-pandemic levels,” Matt Gardner, life sciences leader at CBRE Advisory Services, says in a news release. “We’re also seeing a closely balanced ratio of hiring to job cuts in the biopharma industry compared with the technology sector and the broader economy, which positions the life sciences to remain stable despite an economic downturn.”

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Originally expected to raise $150 million, Mercury's latest fund is the largest raised to date. Photo via

A Houston venture capital firm has announce big news of its latest fund.

Mercury, founded in 2005 to invest in startups not based in major tech hubs on either coast, closed its latest fund, Mercury Fund V, at an oversubscribed amount of $160 million. Originally expected to raise $150 million, Fund V is the largest fund Mercury has raised to date.

“We are pleased by the substantial support we received for Fund V from both new and existing investors and thank them for placing their confidence in Mercury,” Blair Garrou, co-founder and managing director of Mercury Fund, says in a news release. “Their support is testament to the strength of our team, proven investment strategy, and the compelling opportunities for innovation that exist in cities across America.”

The fund's limited partners include new and existing investors, including endowments at universities, foundations, and family offices. Mercury reports that several of these LPs are based in the central region of the United States where Mercury invests. California law firm Gunderson Dettmer was the fund formation counsel for Mercury.

Fresh closed, Fund V has already made investments in several companies, including:

  • Houston-based RepeatMD, a patient engagement and fintech platform for medical professionals with non-insurance reimbursed services and products
  • Houston and Cheyenne Wyoming-based financial infrastructure tech platform Brassica, which raised its $8 million seed round in April
  • Polco, a Madison, Wisconsin-based polling platform for local governments, school districts, law enforcement, and state agencies
  • Chicago-based MSPbots, a AI-powered process automation platform for small and mid-sized managed service providers

Mercury's investment model is described as "operationally-focused," and the firm works to provide its portfolio companies with the resources needed to grow rapidly and sustainably. Since 2013, the fund has contributed to creating more than $9 billion of enterprise value across its portfolio of over 50 companies.

“Over the past few years there has been a tremendous migration of talent, wealth and know-how to non-coastal venture markets and this surge of economic activity has further accelerated the creation of extraordinary new companies and technology," says Garrou. "As the first venture capital firm to have recognized the attractiveness of these incredible regions a dozen years ago, we are excited to continue sourcing new opportunities to back founders and help these cities continue to grow and thrive.”

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