I recently returned from a few days in Boston & Cambridge, so today, in memory of the late Alastair Cooke and his Letter from America, broadcast for 58 years from 1946 to 2004, I wanted to share with you my “Letter from Boston”.
New England is the No 1 biotechnology region on the East Coast of the United States and the Boston/Cambridge area of Massachusetts is the hub.
What makes Boston/Cambridge so attractive as a biotech region? Amongst many, I’d suggest 3 factors stand out to me:
- Access to World-Class Science with an Entrepreneurial Focus. With over 50,000 students in the Boston/Cambridge area it is a city with a focus on higher education. Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Northeastern, Tufts, Massachusetts General Hospital are but a few of the many research institutions. However, what strikes me about the researchers in Boston/Cambridge area is the entrepreneurial focus they have. The idea of starting up a company, commercializing an innovation or finding the application of science is something a lot of people want to do. This entrepreneurial focus is key to the success of industry/academic colloboration in the area.
- Critical Mass of Industry infrastructure. There’s a range of companies in the Boston/Cambridge area. From start-ups such as Blueprint Medicines to more established companies such as Ariad, Vertex and Millennium-Takeda, what Boston/Cambridge offers is a critical mass of talent and people. Those working in the area have sufficient opportunities to move to new companies and positions, that it’s not a major career risk to move to the area. There’s also a lot of early stage infrastructure such as the Novartis Institute of Biomedical Research that bridges the gap between basic research and early stage commercial development.
- Geographic Location. Finally, what stands out for me is the excellent location that Boston has. You can easily reach New York’s investors and analysts, Washington Policy Makers or New Jersey big pharma without too much difficulty. At the same time, Boston is easily accessible for European companies, and the travel time to London can be less than going to the West Coast.
Pfizer recently announced further R&D investment in the Longwood Medical area, Harvard are building a new science campus in Allston and Vertex recently broke ground on a new headquarters in the South Boston innovation district.
For biotechnology companies at all stages of development there are a lot of opportunities in the Boston/Cambridge area.