Life science researchers are gathering in Burlington today to hear about the latest advances in areas such as genome editing, big data and STEM education.
While Cambridge’s Kendall Square remains the industry hub, the symposium at MilliporeSigma’s brand-new 280,000-square-foot Life Science Center at 400 Summit Drive highlights the industry’s growth in the Boston suburbs. The $115-million facility developed by Burlington-based Gutierrez Cos. consolidates workspaces for 900 MilliporeSigma employees, most of whom previously worked at the company’s Billerica offices.
MilliporeSigma always intended to remain in Massachusetts when it began the site search in 2012, according to Chris Ross, MilliporeSigma’s head of integrated supply chain operations. The company mapped out the home addresses of local employees and proximity to customers and prospective employees, and Burlington emerged as a preferred location early in the process.
“Burlington allowed us to retain our great people while also giving us an excellent access to the local talent pool and proximity to some of the best academic research centers in the world,” Ross said in an email to Banker & Tradesman.
Availability of amenities in the Middlesex Turnpike area are another benefit, Ross said.
In addition to offices, labs, a call center and manufacturing, the campus includes MilliporeSigma’s ninth “M Lab Collaboration Center” worldwide where scientists and customers hold meetings and its first end-to-end biodevelopment center in North America, designed to support biotech companies seeking rapid process development and clinical manufacturing services.
Approximately 300 of the 900 local employees have made the move to the Burlington campus so far.
Rosalind Picard, founder and director of the affective computing research group at the MIT Media Lab, is scheduled to give today’s keynote address on problem-solving.
German pharmaceutical giant Merck KGaA acquired Sigma-Aldrich in 2015 for $17 billion. MilliporeSigma operates as the life science arm of Merck in the U.S. and Canada.
Life science companies looking for big blocks of lab space have few options in East Cambridge due to lingering low vacancies. That’s prompted developers to pitch projects on the outskirts of Boston, in Somerville and along Route 128 from Waltham to Burlington.
Cambridge-based developer King Street Properties is building a speculative 144,910-square-foot lab and office building at 828 Winter St. in Waltham, with completion projected in mid-2018.
Federal Realty Investment Trust is marketing build-to-suit sites at its Assembly Row complex in Somerville including one parcel that could support up to 400,000 square feet of office and lab space.
And Boston Landing developer NB Development is in discussions with potential tenants to fill 320,000 square feet of office or lab space at its 60 Guest St. build-to-suit site, after recently signing leases with two life science companies at 80 Guest St. in Brighton.
MilliporeSigma’s Burlington campus joins three other New England facilities located in Bedford, Danvers and Jaffrey, New Hampshire.