Boston Biotech Startup Scene


Boston has a rich history in biotech, with institutional support from universities, large independent pharmaceutical companies, as well as aid from the state of Massachusetts.  In the 1970’s, Boston became one of the leaders in genetic research, with Biogen becoming the preeminent company for recombinant DNA technologies in therapeutics. The Boston biotech scene is unique in its interplay between large, established companies like Novartis, working side by side with burgeoning, innovative startups. With the 70+ colleges and universities in the Boston area, there is a glut of talent that feeds into these startups.  Biogen, a small startup in the 1970s, is now worth billions of dollars, due in part to the excellent culture for biotech in Boston.


Getting funding for Biotech


A scientist with an idea can now get funding from the local government through Massachusetts, the federal government through National Institute of Health grants, and through the private sector, from Venture Capital and other outside investment groups.  In terms of private investment, Boston is fraught with excellent VC options for biotech startups.  Third Rock Ventures was one of the first in the area, alongside Flagship Pioneering.   


The possibility of both private and public sector funding makes Boston a very desirable place for biotech founders to start their businesses, as demonstrated by the over 550 biotech startups in the area.  Former Massachusetts governor, Deval Patrick, started an initiative in 2008 which would see the state invest $1 billion in biotech startups over the next ten years.  The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MLSC) is a great resource for all life science related startups. They provide reimbursements for startups to hire interns and pay them at a reasonable, competitive rate.  


Since the MSLC’s inception, they have invested over $600 million in biotech companies, on the behalf of the state of Massachusetts.  In addition to internship reimbursements, they also provide loans, that are capped at $750,000 to entrepreneurs.Venturewell is a non-profit, who have invested $7.5 million in hundreds of student backed startups.  This is non-dilutive funding, which makes it a desirable funding source, compared to VC funding, which will often include a trade-off in equity and control in your company.