Economically speaking, for years the Philadelphia story has been "eds" and "meds."

That’s the local shorthand for the influence of institutions of higher learning and the life sciences industry — a concentration of pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical-device companies — on Philadelphia’s evolution from a manufacturing-based economy.

The combination of the two has been a formidable anchor during the recession.

A 2007 report from Select Greater Philadelphia, an economic development group, estimated that 88 colleges and universities in the area (there are now more than 100) accounted for 4 to 7 percent of the region’s total economic activity.

And life sciences endeavors are responsible for one of every six jobs in the region and 15 percent of the Philadelphia-area economy, according a report this summer from the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Association.

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