Global industrial giant General Electric (GE) is pulling up stakes in Connecticut and moving its headquarters to Boston. As a result, Massachusetts has vowed to fund a $5 million “digital foundry” to help GE connect with researchers and startup companies.
No one is saying much about the details of the new innovation center, but word on the street is that it will be highly life sciences-focused. The $5 million earmarked for the new innovation center will hail from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which make loans and grants to biotech and medical technology companies and nonprofits, as well as offering tax breaks.
Said Travis McCready, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, “GE’s decision follows on the relocation of GE Healthcare’s headquarters to Massachusetts last year. Having the parent company relocate here will further strengthen Massachusetts’ status as the global leader in life sciences.”
Said GE chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt in a release about the move, “Massachusetts spends more on research & development than any other region in the world, and Boston attracts a diverse, technologically-fluent workforce focused on solving challenges for the world. We are excited to bring our headquarters to this dynamic and creative city.”
The state’s life sciences sector has become a powerhouse. Massachusetts currently leads all other U.S. states in life sciences employment per capita, according to research by the Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy at Northeastern University. PricewaterhouseCoopers’ most recent Life Sciences Money Tree report showed that the state leads the rest of the U.S. in venture capital investment in life sciences per capita.
According to the MassBio industry snapshot, total venture capital investment in Massachusetts life sciences last year exceeded $2 billion, breaking the record set in 2014. The state is also number one in NIH funding per capita, according to the MassBio snapshot. And Bloomberg recently declared Massachusetts the number one state in America for innovation.
The exact structure of the new innovation center has not yet been worked out, nor has its exact location or leadership.
In 2014, a $9.7 million life sciences center grant built the 20,000-square-foot Berkshire Innovation Center in Pittsfield, Mass., to help develop and launch small companies in the manufacturing sector of the life sciences. GE’s innovation center could follow a similar model.
GE is selling the location in Fairfield, Conn., that currently constitutes its headquarters. It’s also closing its office in Rockefeller Center in New York City. When its move to Boston is complete, it will have 800 employees there, said the company.
GE already has 5,000 employees in Massachusetts in aviation, oil and gas and energy management. In 2014, GE moved its life sciences headquarters to Marlborough, Mass., and in 2015 the company announced its energy services start-up, Current, would also be headquartered in Boston.
GE’s new headquarters will be located in the Seaport District of Boston. Employees will move to a temporary location in the summer, with a full move completed in several steps by 2018.
GE said its executives scrutinized 40 potential locations for the relocation. Boston was picked after an evaluation of the business ecosystem, talent, long-term costs, quality of life for employees, connections with the world and proximity to other important company assets, the company said in a release.
“We want to be at the center of an ecosystem that shares our aspirations,” said GE’s Immelt.
Said McCready, “We look forward to partnering with GE as they innovate, in what has become the world’s leading ecosystem for life sciences innovation and growth.”
Suz Redfearn is an award-winning journalist and former senior staff writer for ClinPage.com. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including the Atlantic.com, the Washington Post, Slate, Salon, Politico, Men's Health, MedPage Today and Physicians Practice. Suz holds a degree in print journalism from Loyola University in New Orleans and has been a medical writer since 1990, focusing on clinical research since 2007. Email email@example.com.
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