Governor Charlie Baker once seemed skeptical about continuing the 10-year, $1 billion life sciences initiative launched by his predecessor, Deval Patrick. At the MassBio annual meeting on March 31, Baker left no doubt that he’s all-in, outlining an ambitious vision for extending the initiative after its initial term expires at the end of 2018, saying he hopes to focus not only on adding companies and jobs, but also on training, research partnerships, and other areas.
Baker said details of what’s being called “Life Sciences Initiative 2.0” — including how much the state will spend, and for how long — remain to be worked out. But his remarks were the first clear signal that he plans to make fueling life sciences a priority.
Baker received a standing ovation from an audience that included many executives who once questioned his commitment to backing the life sciences industry with state funds. Under Patrick, the state spent about $80 million a year in capital improvement grants, loans, and tax incentives to woo companies to locate or expand in Massachusetts, a global hub for the life sciences. Since Baker took office in 2015, the state has continued to commit funds to attract companies such as Shire PLC, Siemens AG, and IBM Watson Health.
Baker said the new plan will seek to create more internships and apprenticeship programs to get students ready to work in life sciences. He said it will provide the financial “stitching that closes the deal” in forging research alliances between companies and scientists. And he said it will work to speed collaboration between data-crunchers and drug and device makers to hasten development of new treatments. (Source: Robert Weisman, The Boston Globe, 31 March, 2017)
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