Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston has always attracted young people to its great graduate schools, but it's now becoming a place where they can easily imagine building a full biotech career.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Bob Tepper of Third Rock Ventures wasn't afraid to stir the pot just a tad. Boston still has room for improvement in how its academic and clinical institutions collaborate, he said.

Photos by KeithSpiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Bruce Booth (left) and Jessica Sang of Genentech (center) caught up with Agios's David Schenkein during the break.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Xconomy's newest addition, East Coast biotech editor Ben Fidler (left), got to know quite a few newsmakers in the crowd. Brian Sullivan of Verastem and entrepreneur Bonnie Fendrock were a couple he got to meet. Keep an eye out for his byline in the weeks ahead.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Bruce Booth of Atlas Venture has portfolio companies all over the world, but in the future, probably 80 percent of Atlas biotech companies will be based in Boston because of the advantages of doing business in such a dense cluster, he says.

Bruce Booth. Photos by KeithSpiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Paulina Hill (right), a senior associate at Polaris Venture Partners, did a little networking there and a little tweeting. In one live Tweet, she said, "while it's good to pat ourselves on the back, we need to focus on ways to make it even better."

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Felix Moesner, of the Consulate of Switzerland, posed a question during the audience Q&A

Photos by KeithSpiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Mara Aspinall, the CEO of Roche's Ventana Medical Systems unit, enjoyed one of the moments she wasn't being interviewed. The interview went fine, too.

Photos by KeithSpiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Gee, walking around Biogen Idec's foyer in Building 8, you'd never know they just got FDA approval for Tecfidera, would you?

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Vertex Pharmaceuticals CEO Jeff Leiden talked about the differences he saw in Chicago and Boston. He previously worked as president of Abbott Laboratories.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Al Sandrock, the chief medical officer of Biogen Idec, talked about how he got his bachelor's degree at Stanford in the late 1970s, moved to Boston in 1979 for medical school, and never left.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Guess who got the award for the most fashionable socks at the event? That would be Third Rock's Bob Tepper.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Deborah Dunsire, the CEO of Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, chatted here with Xconomy founder and CEO Bob Buderi.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Deborah Dunsire of Millennium spoke about how much the Boston biotech community--fellow executives, investors, researchers--welcomed her when she came to town in 2005. That's me in the background.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Verastem CEO Christoph Westphal (left) hung around for the networking at the end. He seemed eager to get to this part, knowing full well that he was the last speaker standing between the guests and cocktail hour.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Al Sandrock of Biogen Idec gave some host welcoming remarks.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

We had some early arrivals for the networking over at Biogen Idec.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

It was hard for me to see everybody in the back, but I have a reliable source --- photographer Keith Spiro --- who said people were paying attention from beginning to end.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Phil Sharp, the Institute Professor at MIT, took in the festivities.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Andy Steen, the interim CEO of Metacyte Business Lab in Louisville, KY, traveled a long way to hear some of the stories of how the Boston cluster grew up, and to do a little networking. I'm pretty sure he met a Nobel laureate at this event, a guy by the name of Phil Sharp.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Tom Andrews of Alexandria Real Estate Equities (left) struck up a conversation with Steve Hoffman of Skyline Ventures (center).

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Chris Palatucci (left) shared a laugh with entrepreneur Ed Mascioli.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Third Rock Ventures' Bob Tepper (left) found a quiet spot at the end of the event for some one-on-one conversations.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Bob Langer, the bioengineering wizard at MIT, said not everybody at MIT was happy with his entrepreneurial activities in the 1980s. The culture on campus has changed, and embraces entrepreneurship more now, he says.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

David Schenkein, CEO of Agios Pharmaceuticals, said he got some grief from friends at Genentech last fall when he was quoted in Xconomy talking about how Boston's biotech density gives it an advantage over San Francisco, which is more geographically spread out . I could relate---I wrote the column and took my own share of heat for it.

Photos by KeithSpiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Steven Kafka, the chief business officer of Foundation Medicine, did a little networking at the event. Foundation CEO Mike Pellini, one of the speakers, said he's not a big fan of the Boston weather, but it's the right place to build Foundation's business in cancer diagnostics.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Mara Aspinall (left) and Bruce Booth turned off their mobile devices for a bit to take advantage of the networking.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

There were plenty of opportunities for people to catch up with old friends, and make some new ones in the industry.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

One of the lighter moments of the afternoon. This may have been a remark about a certain local Massachusetts municipality, and I must confess, I'm not sure I got the joke.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Bonnie Fendrock posed a question to one of the speakers.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum

The crowd stayed late. For a guy like me from Seattle, it all seemed pretty bright and sunny and springlike for 6 pm on a Thursday.

Photos by Keith Spiro, courtesy of Kendall PRess.

New York is the place to build a career in finance. LA is the place for entertainment. And now Greater Boston is increasingly becoming the hottest place for all things biotech.

This story has been evolving for decades, and Boston/Cambridge/Waltham et al. spent many of those years as a respected No. 2 hub behind San Francisco. But if you’ve been watching the landscape around Kendall Square over the last 10 years, you’ve seen an amazing story of transformation. The academic research centers, the hospitals, the startups, the VCs, the service providers, the big biotechs, and the Big Pharmas are now all within easy elbow-rubbing distance. Hang out at the Asgard watering hole on Mass Ave at 5 pm on Friday, and you’ll know what I mean. Something special is happening here.

This ongoing story was the theme for our event last week, titled “Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum.” We put together a series of interviews with a diverse group of biotech leaders who had different perspectives on what’s happened, and how this clustering effect positions Boston for the future. On the positive side, there are so many smart people that most everybody said they have access to plenty of talent they need to achieve their business or research goals. On the downside, a number of speakers noted the rising cost of doing business, and the need for more collaboration. I also heard complaints about Kendall Square’s glaring lack of a drugstore and a grocery store, but I suspect that’s just a matter of time.

We had a full house for this event, and a great spirit in the room that celebrated some of what Boston has achieved while recognizing the areas in which it can still improve.

Thanks to all the speakers and attendees who brought so much creative energy to this event. Special thanks go out to Biogen Idec, which hosted the event, and to Keith Spiro of Kendall Press, who snapped great photos of the action on stage and off. I hope you enjoy the photos, and keep an eye out for future Xconomy events.