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Notes from Cambridge

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Amgen's Kendall Square location.
Amgen's Kendall Square location. - ()

Over the weekend I took a trip up to Cape Ann in Massachusetts. Along the way, my wife and I stopped to see a movie that was only showing in two area theaters – one in Cambridge and one in Boston.

We chose the Cambridge theater, which was located in Kendall Square. The name "Kendall Square" didn't mean anything to me. I figured it was some sort of shopping center.

When we got there, we had a couple of hours before the movie, so we thought we'd pick up a few things at a drug store and then grab lunch.

I searched for "drug store" on my phone, and found one just a few hundred yards away. We followed the map, but soon found ourselves in the middle of an office park. When I read the complex's business directory, I realized the problem. Google hadn't taken us to a drug store, it had taken us to a hub of drug companies. Kendall Square, it turns out, is home to dozens of pharma and biotech firms, including Novartis, Genzyme and Amgen.

Cambridge, of course, is also home to Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Though I hadn't intended to take a tour of the Bay State's biopharmaceutical corridor, the stop at Kendall Square reminded me of a conversation I had last week with BioNJ President Debbie Hart.

"If we have Big Pharma setting up shop in the Cambridge area, clearly that's a function of the academic environment up there and the synergy of industry and academia working together," she said.

Hart said New Jersey could do more to foster collaboration between the state's biopharma companies and higher ed institutions.

The above comment is from a story I wrote about a new BioNJ survey of the state's biotechnology industry. The report shows positive numbers, but also calls on the state to do more to support the industry.

It's clear the greater Boston area has a strong core from which to grow its life sciences sector. New Jersey, too, has a quiver full of assets, both historical and geographical. But with such stiff competition between life sciences hubs, it seems one thing New Jersey doesn't have is the luxury of resting on its laurels.

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