When it comes to innovation and technology, the greater Boston area has certainly carved out its share of the market. But neighboring Cambridge, which often gets paired with Boston, may have the advantage. Home to Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology - along with other universities - Cambridge also boasts an ever-growing stable of biotech and pharmaceutical companies. If recent news is any indication, there is no sign the city will relinquish its position as an industry leader anytime soon.
Cambridge remains king in the biotech sphere
There is perhaps no group of people better suited to assessing the health of the biotech industry in Cambridge than industry executives in the state of Massachusetts. To that point, biotech and pharmaceutical executives and insiders gathered at RealShare Boston 2015 conference at the Omni Parker House in late July. By and large, they were impressed with the industry's growth and excited for its future, reported the Worcester Telegram.
"What is amazing to me is that there is still space left in Cambridge for other companies," Phil Plottel, ARIAD Pharmaceutical's senior director of global real estate and facilities, told the Telegram. "Yes, it's been difficult to find space, but the big bio-pharma coming has made it a much bigger pod. I think that is the big impact and I think what you're going to start seeing in the rest of the state is the impact it has on the overall pod."
Such strength is also beneficial for other industries, noted William Harris, regional practice leader for science and technology at Perkins and Will. His clients are pleased with the "network of attorneys, of accountants, of bankers, of that kind of consultant and support team that understands the market." Similarly, the high biotech activity aids surrounding towns like Waltham and Marlborough. That makes the entire area a destination for employers and industry professionals alike. Indeed, 15 of the top 20 bio-pharmaceutical companies worldwide have a physical presence in the Bay State.
"We're seeing firsthand the positive impact this growth is having on the job market right now," says Liz Davies, who directs the Pharma division at Beacon Hill Staffing Group. "While Kendall Square remains the epicenter for bio-pharma, Metro West is experiencing an impressive expansion as well. It is certainly an exciting time for career growth in Massachusetts."
"Life sciences have been a presence in Cambridge for decades."
Kendall Square at the epicenter of life sciences
The MIT campus is located in the Kendall Square area in Cambridge, just across the Charles River from Massachusetts General Hospital, and is surrounded by biotech and pharma companies. Life sciences have been a presence in the city for decades and Kendall Square is the center of it all. But the area only recently underwent a different type of revitalization.
In the 1990's and 2000's, more and more biotech firms started calling Cambridge and Kendall Square home, reported Technology Review. But beyond the surrounding area, there was little else to draw professionals to the center of the bio-pharmaceutical expansion. However, individuals like former MIT president Susan Hockfield envisioned a livelier Kendall Square, complete with amenities that would not only keep employees in the area after they got out of work at the pharmaceutical company. With a thriving downtown and an influx of housing, Kendall could live up to its potential.
"I see Kendall Square as being the heartbeat for innovation and technology in the state," Katie Stebbins, Massachusetts's assistant secretary of innovation, technology, and entrepreneurship, told Technology Review. "The incubator effect Kendall Square is having on the suburbs and cities around it is a positive for the region."
Kendall Square and the city at large are great examples of how culture can influence commerce and vice versa. The biotech firms alone are enough to attract businesses and professionals, but the amenities, location and quality of life are what keep them there. By providing plenty of opportunity for residents, the area will also encourage innovation and collaboration better than regions that are simply there to support an industry and nothing else.
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