Regeneron has once again come top of Science magazine’s top 20 employers survey, followed by Novo Nordisk and Roche’s Genentech unit.

The poll is based on 5,394 responses from readers of Science and employees in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry, who were asked to rank the best employers on a number of characteristics. The categories included ‘’innovative leader in the industry’, treats employees with respect', ‘has loyal employees' and ‘is socially responsible'.

Regeneron came out as the top company for the third year in a row, while Novo leapt to second from 11th place last year. They were followed by Genentech, Vertex (4), Eli Lilly (5), AbbVie (7) and Roche itself, up eight places from last year to eighth.

Biogen Idec came in at 10th, while Novartis slipped three places to 11th. Newcomers to the list were Actelion (14), Johnson & Johnson (19) and Merck KGaA (20). The other pharma players in the top 20 are Boehringer Ingelheim (13, down from 9), Celgene (up two places to 15), Bayer (up four to 16) and Amgen, which rose one place to 18th.

Science claims that “a common thread runs through the top 20 list: give employees the intellectual freedom and support necessary to pursue high-risk/high-reward goals - and they'll deliver”. The journal says that by adding “a noble mission” to this, “employers can create a positive feedback loop that maximises employees' drive and dedication as well as company profits”.