Worcester is home to a cutting-edge life sciences sector.
“Cost and access are major assets for Worcester as we complement the growth of the regional life sciences cluster, but Worcester has some unique assets of its own,” says Jon Weaver, president and CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, which promotes the growth of startup biomedical companies in the region.
“Due to the resurgent vitality of the city and affordability, the workforce has moved west,” Weaver says. “Talent is the jet fuel the industry runs on, and industry is following that talent to Central Massachusetts. In addition, our institutions of higher learning like UMass Chan and WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) are generating incredible research, talent and core resources that benefit the industry.”
The region offers many advantages for life sciences growth, including access to the Boston-Cambridge metro area — but at a much lower cost for lab space. In addition, MBI supports startups by providing secure, clean bench and sink surfaces and fully licensed laboratory space for usage by seed-stage companies.
Startups Find Support
“MBI is one of the premier choices for startups in the commonwealth because we offer flexible private laboratories and support services that allow companies to scale from concept to clinical trials,” Weaver says. “We doubled our space in 2020 and are in the process of expanding again with a new Biomanufacturing Center based on the demand from our incredible startups. Our companies since 2020 have raised over $350 million in funding on their way to the clinic.”
iVexSol is a startup taking advantage of MBI incubator services. The company is developing lentiviral vectors to support the booming cell and gene therapy markets.
“They quickly expanded from two co-founders to a team of over 20 in our Cell and Gene Therapy Center,” Weaver says. “iVexSol will soon be launching out into a new research and development and manufacturing center and continuing their job creation story.”
An essential asset for the life sciences industry is The Reactory, a 46-acre campus alongside UMass Medicine Science Park and the UMass Medical School. The Reactory’s master plan allows for eight shovel-ready parcels that can accommodate up to 470,000 square feet of top-quality manufacturing facilities.
Weaver says the city is working hard to be a good partner to the industry by supporting projects like The Reactory, providing predictable regulatory reviews, and supporting several new workforce programs, including Quinsigamond Community College’s Biomanufacturing Technician On-Ramp Program and MassBioEd’s Biomanufacturing Apprenticeship Programs.
“Biomanufacturing is a key opportunity area for Central Massachusetts,” he says. “Our talent pool, urban environment, access and lower price points make it an ideal location for companies.”
Want to know more?
To learn more about the Worcester area, check out the latest edition of Livability Worcester, MA.