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Move Over San Francisco: Boston Showing Its Pharmaceutical Potential


8/21/2014 4:25:47 PM

Move Over San Francisco: Boston Showing Its Pharmaceutical Potential

August 22, 2014
By Krystle Vermes, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

Boston is renowned for its top educational institutions and biotechnology firms, but there’s change in the air that can no longer be ignored. The city is evolving into a pharmaceutical hub, and as Christoph Westphal for the Boston Globe points out, there’s good reason for it.

Small startups and businesses are more prone to stick around in the city after a large company acquires them. Big companies see the potential of Boston, and this encourages them to keep acquisitions in the hub after the deal is done. Even companies that have a presence in other hubs like San Francisco are turning to Boston for more business.

Furthermore, some corporations have been reaping the benefits of Beantown for years, even with pharmaceutical cities like San Francisco booming. Pfizer (PFE), a multinational pharmaceutical company, is one that has turned to Boston to tap into its hidden potential.

Move Over San Francisco: Boston Showing Its Pharmaceutical Potential -- Pfizer “Pfizer has had a presence in Cambridge for more than 15 years,” Dean Mastrojohn, Global Media Relations at Pfizer told BioSpace. “Our recent move to Kendall Square is part of our strategic vision to refocus the way we approach R&D, including making investments in key capabilities and talent to ensure we are accessing the most promising new science.”

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is another pharmaceutical and biotechnology company that has a presence in Boston. The business has multiple early stage collaborations with groups in the city, and GSK is running more than 200 clinical trials in the hub.

Move Over San Francisco: Boston Showing Its Pharmaceutical Potential -- GSK “In general, the Boston biotechs are younger than those in the Bay Area, who have established great companies over the past two decades,” Jason Gardner, head of GSK’s Research and Development team in Boston, told BioSpace. “Pharmaceutical companies have opened larger labs in Boston as compared to San Francisco because these companies traditionally have been east-coast-based and have relocated to the area from surrounding states.”

However, there is more appeal to Boston than just its labs. More companies are turning to the city because of the industry experts who are already there. In combination with academic institutions, it’s hard to argue with the networking potential of the city.

“It is much easier to have collaborative relationships when you can visit each other’s labs and have face to face meetings easily,” Ann Taylor, Novartis Global Head of the Program Office, told BioSpace. “By having close proximity, it is easier to negotiate feasibility with the academic institutions for clinical trial access. Many of us came to Novartis (NVS) from the local institutions so contacts and relationships have been maintained both through science and recreational activities.”

Move Over San Francisco: Boston Showing Its Pharmaceutical Potential -- Novartis San Francisco may have initially attracted attention from the biotechnology field, but it seems that it isn’t the only city where companies can thrive. With its strong sense of community and room for development, it appears that Boston is becoming the place to be for pharmaceutical companies.

There are approximately 50 colleges and universities located within the metropolitan area, and thousands of students attend these institutions each year. Partner these bright minds with biotechnical and pharmaceutical businesses, and you have a mixture destined for success.
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