Life science companies now comprise 54 percent of the clients at Cambridge Innovation Center’s 245 Main St. location in Kendall Square. Photo courtesy of the Cambridge Innovation Center

Kendall Square’s life sciences industry has grown exponentially throughout the last decade to become one of the most established innovation clusters in the world. However, what often goes unnoticed is how that sector spurs growth in other fields. 

At Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC), a global leader in building and operating innovation communities, we empower the birth of pioneering companies within our workspaces. Android, HubSpot and CIC Health are just a few of the hundreds of companies that have grown at CIC and now have lasting impact on the world. Founded in 1999 with one 2,700-square-foot shared office space in Kendall Square, CIC now operates more than 1 million square feet across nine cities globally and 370,000 square feet locally. We often reflect on why innovation is so prevalent in Cambridge and within CIC. As life sciences hubs emerge throughout Greater Boston and beyond, they would be wise to take a page from Kendall Square’s book. 

Collaborative Spirit Essential  

Tech and life sciences companies are increasingly partnering to co-develop solutions, grow efficiency and transform processes. The success of many life sciences companies today is driven by technological advancements and big-data tools. Leading companies such as Google, Apple, and Amazon have expanded their presence in Kendall Square, seeking new collaborations to create new solutions. 

Verily is one example, having established their first remote location in Cambridge. Verily is a subsidiary of Alphabet (Google’s parent company) focused on life sciences and health care. Verily’s mission is to make the world’s health data useful so that people enjoy healthier lives. Recently, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Verily and Microsoft Corp. announced a strategic partnership to accelerate new innovations in biomedicine through the Terra platform, a secure, scalable, open-source platform for biomedical researchers to access data, run analysis tools and collaborate. Terra is actively used by thousands of researchers every month to analyze data from millions of participants in important scientific research projects. This synergy is just one of the key jobs-creating, innovation-inducing dynamics in Cambridge and, increasingly, in Boston.  

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how crucial data and analytics are to supporting health care decisions and delivery. CIC Health launched in Kendall Square as the connective tissue between those who needed COVID-19 testing and the labs able to process those tests. The company partnered with the Broad Institute, which had built a massive COVID testing operation to serve public health needs, and facilitated over 2 million tests for individuals, schools, hospitals and other organizations. Later, CIC Health stepped into the vaccination landscape to streamline logistics and expand vaccine access and equity. In partnership with Greater Boston organizations like Mass General Brigham, DMSE Sports and Cataldo Ambulance, the company has administered more than 1.2 million vaccines. 

All CIC locations that offer lab space (i.e., Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Miami) maintained 100 percent occupancy and growing waitlists throughout the pandemic. CIC is doubling our shared lab footprint in Philadelphia due to strong demand. Here in Kendall, there is heightened demand for office space from programmers, data analysts and business development professionals eager to support the life sciences sector.  

Today, 40 percent of our clients at One Broadway are life sciences companies, along with 54 percent at 245 Main St. In 2018, only 20 percent of our clients across all our Cambridge and Boston sites were life sciences companies. Emerald Innovations and Eikonizo are two of the many companies created at CIC in Kendall Square that illustrate this trend. 

Brian Dacey

Reduce First-Year Costs for Startups 

By 2009, with the proximity of MIT and Biogen, numerous life sciences and IT entrepreneurs had put down roots in Kendall Square, prompting the Boston Consulting Group to dub it “the most innovative square mile on Earth.” The ensuing demand for research real estate spawned LabCentral, the nation’s premier shared lab space founded by CIC, BioLabs and Mission BioCapital in 2013. LabCentral’s shared lab concept reduced first-year costs for life sciences startups from approximately $1 million to tens of thousands of dollars, largely by eliminating the need for each venture to purchase its own specialized equipment. Lowering those cost barriers for bright minds via shared spaces made an exponential difference in local startup growth and impact 

There is an entrepreneurial mindset in Kendall Square that propels ingenuity. The area’s density spurs collaboration, and a common goal to make a difference through innovation drives this passionate community. CIC believes the coworking and shared resources experience is all about harnessing the power of community to work more efficiently, productively and enjoyably, which leads to partnerships that break the mold. Shared spaces are essential to pioneering advances in the life sciences industries and other forward-thinking sectors. 

Brian Dacey is president of the Cambridge Innovation Center. 

Life Science and Tech Leverage Connections at CIC

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 3 min