Thriving biotech hubs are about collaboration—within companies, but just as important with scientists, research institutions, hospitals, managerial talent, and bankers and venture capitalists from around the world.
This is what puts Boston-Cambridge, Cambridge England, North San Francisco, and San Diego in the top tier for biotech innovation.
The vast number of new for-profit biotechs that arise out of academic labs and tech incubators is a function of the diverse R&D, financial, and workforce resources available within the borders of these life sciences clusters.
At a very practical level, what makes all this collaboration possible? Effective transportation infrastructure, including access to a first-rate airport.
This is why the announcement last week of a $100 million public-private partnership to expand and improve Tweed New Haven Airport is so important to the future of the Connecticut biotech cluster that is growing in and around New Haven.
Tweed New Haven will finally receive the runway expansion it has long needed, a new 21st Century terminal, more efficient highway egress and ingress, and a new air carrier, Avelo.
Tweed will be able to provide access to major U.S. cities and, through them, a gateway to the world.
The profile of biotechs is strikingly similar, whether their product is traditional small molecule pills, large molecule injectable biologics, medical devices, or healthcare IT, the companies search for talent, have research collaborations, conduct clinical trials, and have production facilities the world over.
This makes a nearby airport a keystone for any region working to make itself a prime choice for biotech start-ups and a draw for established biopharmas looking to expand.
The airport gives them access to new ideas, workforce options, and the serendipity that occurs through formal and not-so-formal global interactions.
When Connecticut Bioscience Growth Council members get together to discuss our public policy agenda, near the top of the list—along with research and development tax policy—is transportation.
Life Sciences Corridor
Biotech scientists and managers, most not Connecticut natives, often comment that they were drawn to the state in part because of its seemingly ideal location along the life sciences corridor that stretches from the research and development and venture capital of Boston through the private equity and banking markets of New York and the sprawling pharmaceutical campuses of northern New Jersey, to Johns Hopkins/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the regulatory world of Washington, D.C.
Unfortunately, the ease of getting around the region that biotech executives expect when they study maps of the Northeast does not pan out in the reality of battling Connecticut’s ailing road, rail, and air transport systems.
The recently announced improvements to Tweed New Haven Airport will go a long way toward realizing the potential offered by Connecticut’s geographic location and facilitating growth of the biotech sector.