Since its inception in 1985, Massachusetts Biomedical Initiatives has upheld an “all about our companies” motto.

MBI supports early-stage, life science companies in commercializing their science by providing lab space with unmatched affordability, business assistance, environmental health and safety support, and shared instrumentation access.

These companies include drug discovery and medical device firms as well as contract research organizations which provide services specific to the industry. Over the past 19 years, MBI has graduated 95 companies at a 77 percent success rate. The success rate is calculated by those businesses which remain in business for five years after vacating MBI. This high rate of successes outgrowing the space is a credit to MBI’s business model.

Thanks to the leadership of MBI’s former president and CEO, Kevin O’Sullivan, today MBI is well-positioned for success. Mr. O’Sullivan’s leadership directly supported the development of the UMass Medicine Science Park, Redstone Center, and most recently, the Worcester Biomanufacturing Park – now known as the Reactory.

A collaboration of the City of Worcester’s Economic Development Coordinating Council, the Worcester Business Development Corporation, and the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce along with MBI, the Reactory is a 46-acre biomanufacturing park located near AbbVie and the UMass Medical School in Worcester.

In January, the MBI board of trustees recruited a new vice president, Zu Shen, Ph.D. and promoted myself from Chief Operating Officer to president and CEO. Prior to the transition, the management team worked with the board to develop a new threeyear strategic plan which continues many successful programs and also expand the incubator operations and advocate for construction of a new business strategy initiative.

MBI’s two Worcester facilities have been operating at approximately 99 percent occupancy for the past three years. As a result, MBI recently started construction on an incubator expansion project in Worcester’s Gateway Park with the support of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s Competitive Capital Grant.

The 25,000-square-foot project will more than double the current capacity of MBI’s incubator operations and include laboratory options from 100 all the way up to 3,000 square feet for early stage life science companies.

MBI will share the facility with Cogmedix – a growing medical device development and contract manufacturing company led by the Coghlin family in Worcester. Cogmedix represents a great synergy for MBI as it manufactures products for some of MBI’s “graduate” companies and is a leader in the medical device space. Cogmedix will remain in the building while also expanding into a new facility in West Boylston.


MBI has historically been a home for many tools, diagnostics, and contract research organizations. However, over the past few years, Worcester has seen a major influx of drug discovery companies. These high-growth companies have the potential to create a major influx of jobs and investment to the city and MBI is supporting their growth.

To accommodate and retain the interest in the local sector, MBI recently created a new business strategy committee on the board to evaluate and mentor early-stage drug discovery companies. This committee is one of a series of additional new programs focused on fostering the growth of these businesses.

Providing an expansive and talented workforce, resources at nine local colleges and universities, not to mention access to Boston and Cambridge, Worcester is part of one of the world’s greatest biotechnology clusters.

Be it biomanufacturing, contract research, or startup drug discovery, Worcester represents a great value proposition for the biotech industry.


Jon Weraver is the president and CEO of MBI. To read the entirety of the November 2019 edition of the Chamber Exchange, visit the newspaper archive.