Science magazine is out with its annual list of the top biotech employers and this year’s ranking includes six companies with major operations in the Triangle.

Novartis was the highest ranking of those companies coming in at No. 8. The Swiss company operates a vaccine manufacturing plant in Holly Springs as well as R&D operations in Research Triangle Park. Other companies with Triangle operations on the list are:

  • Biogen Idec. The Cambridge, Mass. company, which operates a pharmaceuticals manufacturing plant in RTP, ranked No. 10, slipping from No. 9 last year.
  • Novo Nordisk. The Danish company, which operates a Clayton manufacturing facility, ranked No. 11, down from a No. 4 ranking last year.
  • Syngenta. Switzerland-based agricultural biotechnology company Syngenta, which maintains R&D operations in Research Triangle Park, ranked No. 13, up from No. 17 a year ago.
  • Monsanto. The St. Louis-based agribusiness giant, which also has R&D operations in RTP, ranked No. 14, tumbling out of its top tier No. 5 rank in 2012.
  • Bayer. The German parent of Bayer CropScience, which has R&D operations in RTP, held stead ranking No. 20 for the second straight year.

Science’s ranking is based on an annual survey of 25,000 people familiar with pharmaceutical employers as well as individuals in human resources at biotech and pharma companies. The magazine used a statistical process to create the ranking. Survey respondents were asked to evaluate companies on six qualities: innovative leader in industry; treats employees with respect; is socially responsible; has loyal employees; has a clear vision; does important, quality research.

Science said that as with almost all of its preceding surveys, respondents ranked “innovative leader” as the most powerful driver in choosing the best companies. Mark Fishman, president of the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR), the R&D branch of Novartis, told the magazine that science is a priority for the company. 

“If you have a culture dedicated to science, then you have a lot of individual discovery and freedom with a scientific critique, but not a business critique,” said Fishman, a cardiologist who has led NIBR’s 6,000 employees from its Cambridge, Massachusetts headquarters for the last decade. “We encourage people to ask important basic questions and important clinical questions, rather than focus on some tiny deliverable.”

The overall top-ranking company for the second straight year was Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, a company based in Tarrytown, N.Y. South San Francisco-based Genentech moved up one spot to No. 2, switching places with Cambridge, Mass.-based Vertex Pharmaceuticals. AbbVie, based in North Chicago, Ill. debuted at No. 4, followed by Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly, which also made its debut on the list.