A recent Chicago Tribune report noted that high tech employment in the Chicago area grew by almost 6,000 jobs in 2018, with openings in artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies boosting job postings by 73%.

With artificial intelligence-enabled research and product development on the rise throughout life sciences, it’s a very good time to be a bioscience innovator in Chicago, according to Jeff Aronin, Chairman and CEO of Paragon Biosciences.

Moderating a recent Tales from the Trenches” session at MATTER, the healthcare incubator based at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart, Jeff Aronin said, “I think we have all the pieces, great research, great institutions.”

In large part, that’s because 1 in 10 U.S. computer science degrees are now minted at an Illinois college or university. Add that to the Chicago area’s historic strengths in healthcare delivery and biopharmaceutical development – a recent study from Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) and TECconomy Partners shows Chicago as the No. 2 metropolitan area in the country for drug and pharmaceutical employment.

“The big pharma talent that’s here is as good as anywhere in the country — that’s critical,”  said Jeff Aronin.

A recent report from commercial real estate giant CBRE Group indicates that others key to the bioscience industry are starting to take notice.

CBRE says Chicago’s overall technology labor pool is now the sixth largest in the country, growing more than 10 percent in the last six years alone. Crediting “a robust infusion of various capital sources, and a more seasoned pool of serial tech leadership, the city has become a powerful magnet for tech talent and businesses alike seeking a top tier global city that still maintains an affordable cost of living.”