Bayer Puts Down More Roots in Massachusetts With New Life Science Center

Published: Jun 20, 2017

Bayer Puts Down More Roots in Massachusetts With New Life Science Center June 19, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – German-based life sciences giant Bayer AG is digging a deep foundation in the booming biotech hub of Boston.

In addition to recent deals to fund biotech startups in the area, the company has opened the doors to its life sciences center near the heart of the hub, Kendall Square. It’s from this life science center that Bayer plans to begin forging new alliances and carve out a greater stake in the biotech world. In an interview with the Boston Globe, Axel Bouchon, head of the Bayer Life Science Center, said “Boston is the center of the world in biotech.”

Not only is the company taking the lead in agriscience with its acquisition of Monsanto , but the company is moving beyond being known as the maker of aspirin. Last year, Bayer made several moves in the Boston area as it moves forward with this strategy. In August, Bayer and CRISPR Therapeutics collaborated on a joint venture to form startup Casebia Therapeutics. The new company is focused on the development of new drugs for blood disorders, blindness, and congenital heart disease using CRISPR’s gene-editing technology, and Bayer’s protein engineering expertise. Bayer plunked down $335 million to support the startup. The company plans to have about 80 employees. In addition to a position in Boston, the company also has a small facility in San Francisco.

In December, Bayer teamed up with Versant Ventures to form BlueRock Therapeutics. The new company, supported by $225 million from Bayer, will focus on stem cell research to regenerate heart muscles after a heart attack, and to develop therapies for Parkinson’s disease. That company has hopes of expanding to about 50 employees over the next year.

With the two companies in the Boston area, Bouchon told the Boston Globe they are key to the company’s five-pillar strategy. That strategy includes five key points: “pursue big ideas, make substantial early-stage investments, give the companies it backs enough time to focus on science, utilize Bayer know-how, and work in collaboration with partners.”

Casebia and BlueRock will both be operating out of the new life science center and both companies have plans to grow over the next year. That growth is expected to give Bayer solid footing as it competes with other European companies in the area, including Sanofi , Novartis , Merck KgaA and AstraZeneca , the Boston Globe reported. While Bayer hopes its scientific platforms will be a key tool in recruitment, the Globe said the company is offering robust incentive packages that include stock options and cash rewards if certain clinical milestones are met. Bouchon said the incentive deal is a way to keep the companies focused on the mission of developing treatments for people in need.

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