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Red Line touted as biotech connector

SAN DIEGO — If Boston’s Red Line trains get more crowded, blame biotech.

State and municipal officials from Massachusetts are using the trains that run from Cambridge to Boston to Braintree as the newest marketing tool to promote the state to biotechnology firms at the annual BIO International Convention in Southern California.

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In meetings with biotech executives from around the country and the world Wednesday, representatives from Somerville, Cambridge, Boston, Quincy, and Braintree pitched their communities together as the Life Sciences Corridor — or the Red Line corridor. The line runs through Kendall Square, the heart of the region’s biotech cluster, and near Boston’s Innovation District while connecting three research universities: Harvard, MIT, and the University of Massachusetts Boston.

“California has the valley, and now we have the corridor,” said Susan Windham-Bannister, chief executive of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the agency that spends public money to boost the biotech industry.

The regional strategy represents a shift from the area’s notoriously parochial approach, in which neighboring cities competed instead of cooperating with each other. Former Boston mayor Thomas Menino, for example, offered millions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives to lure Vertex Pharmaceuticals from Cambridge to the Innovation District on the South Boston waterfront.

“Cambridge and Boston can’t exist alone,” said Nicholas Verenis, economic development director of Quincy. “They need these other communities.”

Massachusetts officials highlighted the Red Line in every meeting they held with company executives Wednesday morning. For those unfamiliar with Greater Boston, they opened maps, running a finger along the route.

Juho Evasoja, vice president of sales and marketing for BC Platforms, a Finnish firm that manages genetic data, was looking for a site in Massachusetts to open an office that could become the company’s US headquarters. And where is he looking? “Apparently, on the Red Line,” he said.

Some 15,000 people from biotechnology companies, government agencies, and other organizations are gathering at the San Diego Convention Center, where deals of all sorts, whether between companies or with economic development officials, were in the works.

An Israeli company called Ornim Medical, which makes noninvasive blood-flow monitors, said it will open a US headquarters in Foxborough starting with 10 employees and growing to 30 to 50 people within two years.

Another firm, BioOutsource of Scotland, said it will expand its Cambridge office next year by opening a laboratory in Massachusetts.

Priyanka Dayal McCluskey can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @priyanka_dayal.
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