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December 19, 2019

MBI showcases construction work on 20K-sq.-ft. expansion

Photo | Grant Welker Jon Weaver, center, the president and CEO of Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives, gives a tour of the incubator's new startup space under construction in Worcester. At left is Travis McCready, the president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center. At right is Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito.

Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives has been successful enough helping to launch biotech startups it has run into about as good of a problem as it could have: It has run out of space.

Now, MBI is deep into construction just down the street from its original location in Worcester's Gateway Park, with 20,000 square feet of space expected to open in April. The new location will offer 19 more suites for startups to use MBI's expertise and share equipment they'd never be able to afford on their own.

MBI held an event Thursday with city and state officials, local legislators and others to celebrate the incubator's soon-to-be doubling of its total space.

"What I see here is the possibility of more and more breakthroughs," said Robert Anderson, the chairman of MBI's board of trustees and a former legal counsel for the pharmaceutical company AbbVie's Worcester operations. "By doubling our space, we expect to double our results."

[Related: Central Mass. has received $1.7B in NIH funding since 2010]

MBI secured a $3.5-million grant in April from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to redevelop part of a Cogmedix industrial building at 17 Briden St. into a new two-story incubator space. MBI is leasing from Cogmedix, which has moved much of its operations to a new site in West Boylston.

Image | Courtesy | Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives
A rendering of a suite Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives will make available for biotech starts at its new space under construction at 17 Briden St. in Worcester

Smaller suites upstairs will range from 100 to 300 square feet for early-stage startups or those needing less space. Downstairs, suites will range from 1,000 to 3,000 square feet in what MBI calls its scale-up center. That's for when firms are growing but not quite yet at the point of leasing commercial space of their own.

About one-third of the space is already called for, said Jon Weaver, MBI's president and CEO.

[Related: Worcester entrepreneurial ecosystem presses on, despite missing 99% of venture capital]

Weaver led tours of the space at Thursday's event, with wall framing set up for where each of the individual suites and office spaces will go.

"This is awesome. This is really awesome," Travis McCready, the president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, said, embracing Weaver.

"It's coming together," Weaver said.

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