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Feeling the Kendall Square Bump n’ Grind Part II: Life Science Capital

Posted by Devin Cole  May 7, 2012 12:03 PM

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Read Part I Here

Big Fish Helping Little Fish

Kendall Square is home to the strongest life sciences cluster in the world, an audacious claim that is supported by the fact that the four main industry groups chose Boston for their signature events this year:

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council (MassBio) is an essential institutional underpinning of support for the biotech space, with offerings in many different forms. Their newest offering, MassCONNECT, is already a wildly successful mentoring program. Both the demand for mentoring and the experts capable of providing it demonstrate the deep pool of local talent and passion for the industry that is present. This depth of talent can’t be bought, transplanted or otherwise grown quickly, although other locales both within the US and internationally have poured resources into such efforts.

Hear about the exciting specifics of MassCONNECT from Sarah MacDonald, MassBio’s VP of Development & Communications:

Repurposing with Purpose

In the uber-serious world of entrepreneurial bioscience development, SEMPRUS BioSciences is an emerging medical device company. Located in a building that was once an old tire factory, Co-Founder and CEO David Lucchino recognizes the value of repurposing Kendall’s unique resources. This includes not only the buildings but also the talent pool of seasoned specialists coming out the newly acquired companies who are looking to move back to a small company culture.

Born out of the MIT 100K Entrepreneurial Competition in 2007, SEMPRUS now has over $30M in funding and made a conscious choice to remain in Kendall. “ I couldn’t get the bang for my buck anywhere else. Even though my rents were a little higher here, the aggregation of the benefits outweighed the dollar premium to be here.”

“So let’s think about it, if you tried to do what we are doing in another locale, in Pittsburgh or Cleveland or other locales you can do it, but it’s going to be a lot more difficult.” David Lucchino continues, “Getting the access to the talent, access to the ideas, access to the venture capital… you can do that in other markets but it’s going to be a lot harder to do because you don’t have the structure in place to allow that to happen so readily.”

How Topography Dictates Flow

Xconomy, the go-to news platform and event-driven engagement organization for the "exponential economy" has become an anchor here in Boston. Founded by Bob Buderi and Rebecca Zacks, the team of Xconomists connects people and ideas through localized blogs, events, conferences, and other initiatives in six cities. Boston's own Xconomy guru and Senior Vice President of Business Development, Bill Ghormley, is based in Kendall Square and provides insight into the development of the clean tech, health IT, life sciences, mobile and the diverse start up community.

In true Xconomy fashion, Bill chose the Entrepreneur Walk of Fame at the Kendall Marriott as our meeting place. Pointing past the stars venerating Edison, Jobs and Gates, he pointed to Main Street and threw down the gauntlet naming Kendall the global pre-eminent innovation venue. "That street is the most important street in the U.S. for my money, for the world's technological ecosphere. Kendall's Main Street represents the separation of two great worlds that are merging here."

With MIT and (two Red Line stops down) Harvard on one side of Main Street and companies commercializing technology into value on the other side, Kendall is the place where we solve the equation of propagating great technology every day. “Walking right by us are people from every single country on earth, in a very dense platform that causes them to bump into each other. So you can find the right people for the right job with the right tools to build out these technologies.”

So What Does All of This Cost Anyway?

Six months ago, you could find first class office space in Kendall at an average of $44 per square foot. Today it will cost you 5% more at an average of $46 per square foot. Lab space in Kendall has a similar differential, going for about $53 per square foot now, up $3 a square foot from six months ago. By comparison, it would be approximately $4 per square foot cheaper for you to be in Boston versus Cambridge, yet Cambridge continues to be a hot market that demands the higher price and companies like SEMPRUS are willing to pay to be here.

Eric Solem, Founder and Principal at Landmark Real Estate Advisors, affirms that commercial rents are indeed on the rise, stemming from the inverse correlation between lower unemployment rates and an increase in office space demand. As resources proliferate into the area, more companies are migrating into the Boston and Cambridge markets. As a result, jobs are being created and employers grapple to identify, attract, and retain talent.

The Key Ingredient in the Secret Sauce

Laurisa Neuwirth is a Boston World Partnership Connector, Ambassador of Relationship-Based Staffing at John Leonard Employment Services and President of The Rotary Club of Newton; Laurisa can be reached at Ashley Ryall is an experience architect within the #social space and has her finger on the pulse of social recruiting as John Leonard’s Social Media Consultant. Ashley can be reached at

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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