Life Science

The Strategy Behind Creating 1.3 million SF of New Life Sciences Training, Research, and Manufacturing Space

by  Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D.

Susan Windham-Bannister, CEO, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center

Susan Windham-Bannister

The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is investing $1 billion over 10 years in the growth of the state’s life sciences ecosystem. These investments are being made under the Massachusetts Life Sciences Initiative, signed into law by Governor Patrick in 2008.

Since 2008, the MLSC has awarded nearly $400 million to support capital projects, creating over 1.3 million sf of new training, research, business incubating and manufacturing space all across the Commonwealth — from Cape Cod to Cape Ann to the Berkshires. In total, the MLSC has invested over $525 million and leveraged nearly $1.5 billion in matching (private sector) investment.

These investments are contributing to explosive job growth in the state. A 2013 report by Dr. Barry Bluestone and Dr. Alan Clayton-Mathews found that since the enactment of the Life Sciences Initiative in 2008 the life sciences sectors have become the fastest job creating sectors in the Massachusetts economy… and Massachusetts is producing new life sciences jobs faster than any other state in the nation.

As of this year we have achieved a clean sweep – all of the top 10 biopharma companies in the world have a presence in Massachusetts. And Massachusetts is the undisputed life sciences global life sciences leader.

This isn’t happening by accident. The MLSC has a specific investment strategy that targets translational scientific research, company formation and growth, workforce development, infrastructure and collaboration.

  • A major priority for the Center is to invest in training the next generation of life sciences talent to fill the new jobs that are being created in Massachusetts.
  • Another priority is to ensure that the Massachusetts life sciences workforce is inclusive – so that regardless of gender, race and ethnicity, socio-economic status or zip code workers are well-trained to compete successfully for jobs in the 21st century innovation economy.
  • It also is a priority for the Center that our investments are creating places statewide to accelerate the growth of young companies. We have invested nearly $40 million in young companies and business incubating spaces, including $10 million to support the creation of LabCentral, a first-of-it’s kind shared lab facility for early-stage companies located in Cambridge’s Kendall Square.
  • The Center is using its investments to solidify the unique strengths of our state’s different regions – be they R&D or advanced manufacturing — and to create resources and capabilities that are uniquely found in Massachusetts, and make us a model for the world.
  • And finally, It is a priority for the Center that our investments promote collaboration because in innovation 1 + 1 = 11!

The $5 million grant we announced this year for the Life Sciences Consortium of the North Shore (LSCNS) in an excellent example of this strategy at work. The Consortium consists of Endicott College, Gordon College, North Shore Community College (NSCC), Salem State University, and North Shore InnoVentures, a life sciences incubator in Beverly, MA. Industry partners in the North Shore region also will be actively involved. The grant will fund major lab/facility and equipment upgrade projects at the Consortium member organizations, supporting the pipeline of highly-skilled workers for the life sciences industry in the region and the growth of young companies.

Unique resources established with MLSC capital dollars include a cGMP Vector Manufacturing Center (VMC) at MassBiologics in Boston to promote the novel use of viral vectors to prevent and treat human diseases; the Massachusetts Accelerator for Biomanufacturing in Fall River; the Translational Center for the Cure of Diabetes at Boston’s Joslin Diabetes Center; the Center for Salivary Diagnostics at the Forsyth Institute in Cambridge; three new translational research centers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the landmark Sherman Center for Advanced Therapeutics Research at UMass Medical School in Worcester.

Massachusetts is proud to be the recognized global leader in life sciences, and MLSC investments in infrastructure are an important part of that story. We will continue to make major investments in the years ahead, so stay tuned!

Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D. is president & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.