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State wants biotech firms to expand beyond Kendall Square

Massachusetts Life Sciences Center president and chief executive Travis McCready (left) visited Route 495 life sciences executives at an event at Sunovion Pharmaceuticals. Listening to speakers with McCready was David Frawley, chief commercial officer with Sunovion.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

MARLBOROUGH — It’s not just about Kendall Square anymore.

Baker administration officials are seeking to broaden the geographic reach of the state’s biotech and medical technology sectors by strengthening existing clusters along Route 495 and elsewhere, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center chief executive Travis McCready said Monday.

“We want to make sure the industry outside Boston and Cambridge continues to grow in a much more intentional and robust way,” McCready told more than 75 industry executives and local leaders gathered at the home office of Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. here. “We’re not competing against Silicon Valley with just Boston and Cambridge.”

McCready said the center will be helping match life sciences companies of all sizes and stages with physical infrastructure, such as buildings and equipment, as well as promoting workforce development. Other state priorities include building up biomanufacturing, which requires more space but can employ more workers than research labs, and capitalizing on the convergence of biomedical research with digital health and big data, he said.

“Let’s stretch our imagination of the companies that can be supportive and are supportive of the life sciences,” McCready said, citing the data-crunching capacity of high-tech companies like Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. as an asset to biomedical researchers.


McCready spoke as state life sciences officials are coming off a victory in persuading Cambridge biotech Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. to build a $200 million drug-making plant in Norton rather than out of state. The new bioprocessing site will bolster the state’s network of life sciences manufacturers, which also includes Genzyme in Boston and Framingham, Biogen Inc. in Cambridge, and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. in Devens.

Marlborough has already seen an influx of companies. GE Healthcare opened its global life sciences headquarters here last year while Boston Scientific Corp. moved its corporate headquarters campus from nearby Framingham in 2014. Sunovion, which is owned by Japan’s giant Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Group, continues to expand after winning US approval of an epilepsy tablet last year.


McCready said the life sciences center expects to launch its new capital program, including funds to back biomedical infrastructure, this summer. Separately, he reiterated that the administration plans to seek legislative reauthorization of the state’s life sciences initiative, which includes loans, grants, and tax breaks for companies creating jobs in Massachusetts, when the current initiative expires later in the decade. He said funding levels remain to be seen.

“The data shows that it’s a great thing for government to be investing in the earliest stages of [life sciences] research,” McCready said.

McCready spoke with Kara Keefe, state Senator Eileen Donoghue’s chief of staff, at a gathering in Marlborough Monday.Lane Turner/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Robert Weisman can be reached at robert.weisman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeRobW.