— Leasing activity by life science companies finished strong in several San Diego submarkets for the first quarter of 2018, led by small- and midsize companies expanding or relocating to San Diego, according to a report from the commercial brokerage firm JLL.

That’s in keeping with a trend that started in 2017, said Grant Schoneman, senior vice president of JLL’s Life Sciences Group.

“The outlook for the rest of the year is, I think we’ll see sustained activity in the smaller tenant market,” Schoneman said. “Activity among the large tenants will remain relatively slow.”

Companies with space needs of less than 35,000 square feet accounted for 95 percent of the transactions for the quarter.

An exception was a 38,849 square-foot lease signed by Tocagen in Campus Point.

Other notable deals for the quarter cited by JLL included Gossamer Bio’s lease of 32,039 square feet in Torrey Pines, Vividion Therapeutics’ expansion into a new 34,054 square-foot building in Sorrento Valley, Biolinq’s lease of 10,000 square feet in UTC, AveXis addition of 9,465 square feet in Campus Point, and a 5,271 square-foot lab opened by Alaya Bioscience in Sorrento Mesa.

Noticeably absent in San Diego was activity by large pharmaceutical companies, unlike competing clusters in San Francisco and Boston.

Exceptionally strong leasing activity by big pharmaceutical companies pushed rental rates in San Francisco to the low $5 per square foot and to the low $7 per square foot in Boston.

Rental rates for life science space in San Diego ended the first quarter in the low $4 range in Torrey Pines, the high $3 in UTC and $3.30 in Sorrento Mesa and Sorrento Valley.