6 Ways for Boston to Dominate in Life Science
Metro Boston scientific research leads the world, but some companies are moving manufacturing facilities to China and other low-cost locales (local historians, sound familiar?).
At Bisnow’s Life Science Summit on Thursday, moderator Jacobs' Chris Leary (above during pre-event networking) led the panelists in a discussion for our 425 guests. Here's what Boston (that means you, owners/developers) will have to do to keep up.
1. Get More Funding from Gov. Baker
Boston Globe CEO Mike Sheehan (who has 16.5 acres for sale in a prime location, if you’re interested) keynoted by speaking with public sector industry advocates: Mass Life Science Center’s CEO Dr. Susan Windham Bannister and Mass Bio Council president Bob Coughlin. After seeing Gov Baker’s proposed new budget, Bob is “nervous” that it lacks significant support for life science. With at least one manufacturing plant set to close this year, it's critical to have top-tier infrastructure to attract new players. (Cough, cough, MBTA? Also, which pharma company can treat this cough of ours?) One big change—after 6.5 years, Dr. Windham Bannister is leaving the Center and was presented with a Bizzy (as in Bisnow) Award for Lifetime Achievement; she's helped the life science industry become the state’s biggest job producer.
2. Shape Space for Big Data
Back in the day, the metric that companies used to recruit scientists was how many square feet their office would be; now it’s how many terabytes of data storage they can offer. As Big Data becomes a bigger deal, advances in lab automation technology are outstripping researchers’ ability to analyze material in their conventional offices, says Steffian Bradley principal Erik Lustgarten. To accommodate the change, new types of research computing spaces are displacing wet labs.
3. Build, Renovate, Consolidate
With technology and processes rapidly advancing—and the recession fading—life science companies are renovating outmoded facilities or consolidating at new addressees, like Biogen did in its relo from a build-to-suit in Weston to a new building in Kendall Square, says Commodore Builders project exec Jason Theberge.
4. Create a Regional Strategy and Expand the T
To help the Boston/Cambridge life science cluster stay on top, it’s imperative that the region’s cities—Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Quincy and Braintree—wake up to the importance of formulating a regional growth strategy, says Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone. On the top of his Somerville to-do list: promote rezoning to attract small life science companies and expansion of the T. He knows what he's talking about; Boston’s Brooklyn succeeded in attracting Partners Healthcare, the state's largest employer, to build up to 1.1M SF of space in Assembly Row (now under construction).
5. Pioneering New Locations
Our life science cluster is spreading out from its Boston/Cambridge nucleus into Alewife in West Cambridge and suburbs like Lexington, says King Street Properties principal Tom Ragno. Last year, his company purchased two life science buildings at the Alewife T-stop and to his surprise, eight months later they’re 75% leased. At King Street’s Lexington campus, which is 100% leased, the company is planning to start construction on a fourth building with 85k SF. He’s seeing more creditworthy tenants and fielding more calls from equity investors and lenders.
6. Build to Shift from Silos to Collaboration
New layouts and building features are helping to transform the old super-secret pharma culture, BioMed VP for development Bill Kane says. More outdoor public gathering spaces, more interior collaborative spots, companies co-locating in incubator type set-ups and the increasingly lively Boston/Cambridge street scene are helping to break down industry silos and build instead a networked life science community.
Thanks to Our Partners
Another big thank you to all of our amazing partners: Commodore Builders, EM Duggan, Eversource Energy, Jacobs Global Building, Janitronics Building Services, J.C. Cannistraro, The Massachusetts Life Sciences Corridor, SemaConnect and Steffian Bradley Architects! Above, Janitronics' VP Dorrian Fragola schmoozes with one of our guests.