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Updated: January 25, 2021

Q&A: Building out life sciences at The Reactory

Photo | Courtesy of Matthew Zicaro Matthew Zicaro, vice president of real estate development, engineering and project management at Galaxy Life Sciences
Name: Matthew Zicaro 
Title: Vice president of real estate development, engineering and project management
Company: Galaxy Life Sciences
Founded: 2020
Employees: 10
Zicaro’s age: 43
Birthplace: Worcester
Residence: Webster
More Information

When Matt Zicaro joined forces with Michael O’Brien of Galaxy Development, they launched a new development firm – Galaxy Life Sciences – committed to building out the bioscience industry in Central Massachusetts, particularly at The Reactory biomanufacturing campus in Worcester. Aside from the section of the Reactory to be occupied by the $60-million facility of Chinese biomanufacturer WuXi Biologics, Galaxy has optioned the rest for its future developments, the first of which will be a $50-million build-to-suit facility.

How did you end up at Galaxy?

I’m a very resourceful person who has thousands of contacts in the pharmaceutical industry. I’ve worked for some major companies in the life sciences industry: Vertex Pharmaceuticals in Boston, Bristol-Myers Squibb in Devens, and Shire in Lexington.

I’ve been part of the development side with those companies, selecting sites, building new facilities, and working with regulators. It is more focused on development – rather than the science part – and it is about pulling all the teams together to build these new facilities.

One day, Mike & I were talking about some of the life sciences projects around Greater Worcester. I’ve known Mike for years, because we both live around Webster. Eventually, we thought it was a great idea to combine forces to help life sciences companies find places to build.

How did you decide on The Reactory?

We looked at other office parks around Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut as potential sites for life sciences companies, and nothing came close to The Reactory. It is great because it is already zoned for life sciences, has all its Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act approvals, and can be quickly built on.

How is it going with your first Reactory building?

We are currently in design for the first biomanufacturing facility, and we are looking to begin construction on concrete and steel in the spring. We are working with tenants who want to build their new manufacturing facility at The Reactory. Our goal is to create as many jobs as possible for Worcester and the surrounding communities.

Mike & I feel the total investment at The Reactory could be $500 million when it is entirely built out.

What do life sciences companies look for in a site?

Life science companies want to attract and retain talent. They don’t want to be located in old warehouses, or out in the middle of nowhere. They want to have attractive places to work. They look at an area’s quality of life, its colleges and universities, the cost of living, educational attainment, and the infrastructure, among many other things.

How does Worcester fit into those criteria?

Worcester has great momentum and a growing life sciences ecosystem. It has a business-friendly government, attractive amenities and restaurants, and a diverse culture and community.

What is really key for these companies are state and local incentives, and Worcester and Massachusetts have shown they are willing to provide those.

When do you think you will have a tenant lined up?

We have a few tenants we are working with, who will give us an answer by the end of the first quarter or in the second quarter about whether they want to move forward with The Reactory. We are talking with vaccine companies, biomanufacturing, and cell & gene therapy companies.

These are substantial investments for these companies, and they are entering in a long-term lease. Most of these companies want to minimize their capital outlay, so they can invest that into new products.

Worcester is the best option for any company looking to come to Massachusetts.

How long will it take to build out the entire Reactory?

Because of the interest we’ve had in the park, it could go quickly. We are talking with several tenants now, and we hope to land one in the near future. If all goes well, we could end up building maybe up to three facilities for separate tenants under construction at the same time.

This interview was conducted and edited for length and clarity by Brad Kane, WBJ editor.

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