The San Francisco Bay Area can rightfully claim to be biotech’s birthplace and the perennial No. 1 cluster. But something special is happening now in Boston biotech.
While many regions struggle to fulfill their biotech dreams, Boston has been gaining ground on the Bay Area, and has seized momentum in the last few years that could make it the world’s No. 1 biotech hub for a generation. The mix of great research institutions, entrepreneurial biotech companies, Big Pharma, medical devices, and medical centers of excellence appears to be taking on a life of its own, attracting more and more life sciences energy to Boston.
Anybody who has spent much time around Kendall Square and overheard animated conversations about the merits of the PI3 kinase cancer pathway knows what I’m talking about. There’s no other place in the world with this much biotech action per acre. Harvard, MIT, and the Broad Institute continue to compete at the highest levels of biomedical research. The hospitals continue to rank among the nation’s best. Biogen Idec has been revitalized, Vertex Pharmaceuticals is emerging as an anchor, and Big Pharma continues to double down on a decadelong bet on Boston R&D. And, during a time when many venture firms are slowly going out of business, the Boston community is loaded with bold, venture-backed startups like Agios Pharmaceuticals, Epizyme, Foundation Medicine, Forma Therapeutics, Warp Drive Bio, and Zafgen. I look for innovative biotech stories all around the U.S. and rarely see this spirit anywhere else.
What has gone right? What’s still missing? What needs to happen next for Boston to make the most of this opportunity? These are the kind of questions I look forward to posing at the next big Xconomy Boston event, titled “Boston Biotech Seizes the Momentum.” This event, set for April 4 at Biogen Idec in Cambridge, MA, will feature a series of interactive chats with the researchers, entrepreneurs, executives, and venture capitalists who make the community work.
We are convening a great lineup of speakers on this important subject for the future of New England. Here’s a sample who you can expect to hear from:
—Bruce Booth, Managing Director, Atlas Venture
—Deborah Dunsire, CEO, Millennium Takeda
—Bob Langer, David H. Koch Institute Professor, MIT
—Mike Pellini, CEO, Foundation Medicine
—George Scangos, CEO, Biogen Idec
—David Schenkein, CEO, Agios Pharmaceuticals
—Christoph Westphal, CEO, Verastem
Space is limited, and there are discounts to be had for early registration, so it’s a good idea to get your tickets early. I’m personally flying in for this event and will serve as the emcee and moderator. I look forward to hearing what these folks have to say, and connecting with a lot of regular Xconomy readers. See you there at Biogen Idec on April 4.