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The Hotbed Driving Force in Biotech: Massachusetts  
1/24/2012 11:42:02 AM

The Hotbed Driving Force in the Biotech Industry: Massachusetts By Michelle Wong, BioSpace.com

Massachusetts is picking up steam in the biotech industry while other states have been struggling to stay afloat in this tough economy. According to the MassBio industry report, “Massachusetts continues to outpace other states and countries for biotechnology industry growth and investment.” With its vast innovation, research, and development, Massachusetts continues to be one of the well sought after hubs in the industry. The state’s biotech sector is growing and the number of biotech jobs proves it. In 2010 alone, biopharma jobs totaled 48,000, with 26,000 jobs in biotech R&D, an all-time high for the commonwealth. Genzyme, one of the world leaders in biotechnology which develops new medicines and secures approval for products, contained the highest amount of workers employing 2,600 workers who are working for the company.

Susan Windham-Bannister, president and chief executive of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, has said that Massachusetts is home to “one of the world’s leading biotechnology clusters, world-class academic and scientific institutions, top teaching hospitals, and the best educated workforce in the United States.” President Susan J. Hockfield of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) also noted in a State of Institute Address that “Kendall Square (located in Cambridge, MA) has more biotech and IT firms per square mile than anywhere else on the planet.”

Due to the high popularity of Massachusetts as being one of the most desirable hotspots in the nation, several biotech companies are developing and the rise of real estate is flourishing. A recent publication taken from Richard Barry Joyce & Partners LLC reported that “A substantial wave of commercial construction is underway in Boston and Cambridge, fueled by more biotechnology-related construction activity than anywhere else in the United States.” Currently eight major buildings are now underway in Massachusetts and are in the process of being constructed. Two of these major biotechnology companies, Pfizer Inc. and Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. are currently undergoing construction.

Pfizer

In 2011, Pfizer announced that it has signed a 10-year lease agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The new building in Kendall Square is expected to be completed by 2013 and will contain 180,000 square feet of space. Once built, the building will house Pfizer’s Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Endocrine disease (CVMED) and Neuroscience Research Units and open up 400 new research jobs which will include biologists, chemists, and other personnel in the research field. Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s Worldwide R&D President, said that the company deliberately chose to move to Cambridge because it is a key part of their research and development strategy. The company will be able to foster productive collaboration between and drug discovery experts of the city’s world-class institutions.

Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Vertex Pharmaceuticals, is taking over Boston, Massachusetts and has made history as being the city’s largest commercial lease covering 1.1 million square feet. The company has taken advantage of Cambridge’s waterfront and is investing in $900 million to build an office and laboratory complex at Fan Pier. The office complex once built will open up 1,800 jobs. In addition, the company has also leased 60,000 square feet worth of space in an office building which was built a year ago.

As major, well-established biotech companies like Pfizer and Vertex Pharmaceuticals are expanding, several new startup companies are also making their mark and settling in. Access Industries’ Access BridgeGap Ventures is establishing programs to help aid and fund startup companies. Access BrigeGap Ventures, established in December of last year, is expecting to fund three to five companies per year redistributing $75M over the first few years. In addition to funding startup companies in its early stages, the Access Industries’ funds will help to create de-novo spinoffs.

Below are other biotech companies which have already relocated or are in the process of relocating their corporate headquarters:

H3 Biomedicine Inc.

H3 Biomedicine, a start-up company, established in December 2010, focused on cancer treatments this past year officially unveiled and opened their new headquarters in Kendall Square. To fund H3 Biomedicine’s new headquarters, Eisai Inc. provided $200 million in research funding. H3 Biomedicine’s new headquarters now contains 24,000 square feet featuring state-of-the-art laboratory space. The company which now holds 30 staffers is looking to add an additional 40 in the next 12 months according to chief executive Markus Warmuth, M.D. Furthermore, the biotech company plans to further expand the building in the coming years which will in turn open up 70 more jobs.

FORMA Therapeutics

FORMA Therapeutics, founded in 2007, has relocated its corporate headquarters to Watertwon, MA which was effective December 19, 2011. By relocating, the company has doubled its amount of space by 45,000 square feet. Kenneth Bair, Ph.D., Senior Vice President and Head of Research and Development, said, “Our new, significantly larger corporate headquarters will support our planned 30% FTE growth to service our existing partnerships with Genentech, Eisai, Cubist and Novartis, as well as future partners that want to tap into our innovative drug discovery capabilities.”

Inspiration Biopharmaceuticals

Inspiration Biopharmaceuticals, established in 2006, is relocating their headquarters now based in Laguna Nigel, CA to Cambridge, MA. The company plans to hire another 100 workers in the future.

Izon Science Ltd.

Izon Science Ltd., a small nanotechnology instrument manufacturer company founded in 2005, opened up their new headquarters in Cambridge, MA in One Kendall Square. President and CEO Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D. spoke at the official ribbon-cutting event saying, “Massachusetts is a center for innovation in science and technology, and Izon’s decision to locate here attests to the strength of our life sciences workforce and the opportunities to partner with leading companies and academic institutions.”

With the high influx of biotech companies calling Massachusetts home, the rate of growth in Massachusetts doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Even though Massachusetts is a small state and covers a small percentage of the U.S. area wise, it has become one of the largest powerhouses in the biotech industry.

About the Author

Michelle Wong researches and writes about job search strategy, career management, hiring trends and workplace issues for BioSpace.com.

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