Nodal Economic Development: Building Life Sciences Capabilities across the City and its Urban and Suburban Hinterland

The Life Sciences practicum will investigate the relationship between the elements of the Massachusetts life sciences complex and state policy designed to encourage its distributed growth and development. The convening client will be the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (MSLC). The primary community clients will be a subset of the state’s Gateway and other economically challenged cities, with the final number depending on class counts and number of life sciences opportunities identified by the class. We will produce a unique analysis of the spatial manifestation of the state’s complex by documenting the various economic, institutional, and policy linkages evident in the life sciences sector. The objective is to study the potential, but also understand the limits of state policy to reshape the economic geography of innovation and industrial development across the state. The practicum is also designed to change the existing footprint of development by identifying and mobilizing the latent opportunities and capabilities in the life sciences and in the process, serve as an agent of change in the state’s Gateway Cities and surrounding counties. The desire is to construct a policy dialogue that simultaneously supports continued cluster vitality while reshaping the geography of the sector to reduce pressures on the key current nodal centers and extend life sciences activity to sites in central and western Massachusetts, as well as under-invested areas within the Route 128 core. Students will examine individual segments of the state’s life science cluster in terms of economic assets and trends, strategies of major non-MLSC actors, both public and private, and existing state policy, including whether it is biased toward core versus more distributed areas of the state.