2015 Census Reveals Sustained Growth in Life Sciences

For Release March 21, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The fifth Life Science Industry Census released since 2003 shows continued growth in this vital sector of the region’s economy and adds another valuable layer of detail to the industry’s growth through the years.  

Analyzing the industry over the past nine years reveals consistent growth in the number of companies and overall employment in the life sciences industry in the region.  The region has grown from 199 life sciences companies employing between 17,500 to 20,000 people as identified in the 2006 census to 249 companies employing between 28,000 to 30,000 people as identified in the 2015 census.  While the total number of companies increased by nine since 2012, the actual number of new companies in the census is 65 including 20 in our regional incubators.  By comparison, 43 companies are no longer operating in the region or have closed.  These two data points highlight the constant evolution of the life sciences sector.

“The value of performing this study every three years cannot be overstated, as it allows us to track and share the growth of the life sciences in the region,” said Dr. Keith Gary, KCALSI Vice President.  “After consistently releasing a new census every three years for over a decade, we can assess micro and macro impacts on the life science community.”

According to the 2015 Life Sciences Industry Census the number of life science companies in the region grew slightly, by nine companies, with employment growth of over 20 percent for the region since 2012.  When asked about future hiring trends, 91 percent of respondents indicated plans to add employees over the next 36 months and no respondents projected staffing cuts.  

Kansas is home to about 62 percent of the life sciences companies in the region while Missouri is home to about 38 percent of the companies.  The study also found the majority of life sciences companies are concentrated in the immediate Kansas City metropolitan area, with 56 percent of the companies located in Jackson County, Missouri, and Johnson County, Kansas.  The net number of Kansas companies has increase by 15 while Missouri’s net total has declined by six companies.

“Our regional life science ecosystem is vibrant and evolving.  Our employment growth is primarily provided by larger companies but we are cognizant that our future growth will likely come from today’s startups.  With 65 new companies in the past three years, we must ensure we support the capital needs for our startup companies and the workforce needs of all life science companies,” stated Dr. Wayne Carter President and CEO of KCALSI.

The Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI) has partnered with Investment Resources since 2006 to conduct the census project every three years.  By using a consistent methodology for data collection, each new census adds a level of depth to the information previously gathered and allows for appropriate analysis and comparison of data sets.  Essentially each individual census is a chapter in the history of the life sciences industry in the region.

About the Life Sciences Industry Census:

The goal of the data is to better define the regional composition of life sciences companies and to define the scope of economic activity in this vital sector of the region’s economy.  Companies included in the study must be engaged in research and development or directly support research and development activities within the life sciences. The census defines life sciences as any research activities related to the biology and/or chemistry of animals, humans or plants. 

The goal of the current census is to:

  • Update the previous census of life science companies completed in 2012.  
  • Provide an understanding of industry growth and expansion in the last three years.
  • Identify employment and research trends in the region’s companies.
  • Provide a resource that presents an updated snap-shot of the region for policymakers, economic and workforce development professionals, educators, scientists, and companies.

The Life Sciences Industry Census is the only repeated systematic assessment of industry assets in the region.  Moreover, the Census collects workforce data providing important information for institutions across the educational continuum regarding industry needs.  For a complete copy of the survey please visit: http://kclifesciences.org/reports/industry-census/


The Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute (KCALSI) strives to advance the life sciences in the Kansas City region through collaboration, research, workforce development, and commercialization. A non-profit organization, KCALSI fosters constructive relationships between the academic and private sectors; facilitates collaborative scientific research; advocates for the life sciences at local, state and national levels; and supports economic development, technology transfer and commercialization.

For more information visit www.kclifesciences.org or contact Dr. Keith Gary, Vice President, KCALSI at 816-753-7700.


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