Kendall Biogen back

Biogen to return to Cambridge in 2013

Joining the growing biotechnology industry presence in Cambridge, in 2013 Biogen Idec, the third largest biotechnology company in the world, will move its executive office from its location in Weston, Mass. to Kendall Square. The move reverses the company’s relocation two years ago, when Biogen Idec’s headquarters (including sales and marketing) moved from Cambridge to Weston, leaving its Research and Development (R&D) division in Cambridge.

Biogen Idec will move to two new locations next to the current R&D center near Kendall Square. According to the Boston Globe, one will be a 190,000-square-foot building at 17 Cambridge Center, and the other will include five new buildings in a 305,000-square-foot area just across Binney Street. With the return of 530 employees to Kendall Square, the company will put the entire workforce in Massachusetts in a single location.

Cambridge-based Biogen ­was co-founded by Harvard biochemist Walter Gilbert and MIT Professor of Biology Phillip A. Sharp in 1978 before merging with the San Diego, Calif.-based IDEC Pharmaceuticals. In recent years, however, Biogen Idec had outgrown its space at 14 Cambridge Center in and sought a new place to accommodate the workforce.

The decision to move to Weston was made in 2008 by former CEO James C. Mullen, who thought it would offer more space and convenience for workers and save money on lower lease rates at the same time. But the current CEO George A. Scangos, who took over in the summer of 2010 a month after the company moved to Weston, instantly disliked the geographical separation between sales and marketing in Weston and R&D facilities that remained in Cambridge.

“It wouldn’t have been my choice,” he told the Boston Globe. “Today, I’m the only member of senior management who’s here [in Cambridge]. Everyone else is in Weston. That’s not optimal.” He said it was more sensible to have everyone in one location and finally decided to return to Kendall Square last summer.

Although Sharp left the board of directors several years ago, he commented, “Weston was too far away from Kendall Square,” in an email to The Tech. “I totally agree with this and welcome them back to Cambridge. Biogen Idec is a high-tech company and must be in touch with the cutting edge of biotech.”

Biogen Idec will fully join the growing biotech industry near the Kendall Square area when construction is scheduled to be complete in 2013. Currently, the area is populated by pharmaceutical giants such as Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi, and Amgen. .

In an email to The Tech, Kirk D. Kolenbrander, Vice President and Secretary of the MIT Corporation, noted that the “expanding innovation district in Kendall Square was a principle factor in the decision making process” for the company. Although “MIT did not have any direct involvement” in Biogen Idec’s return to Cambridge, he said, “MIT is delighted to have the company reassemble in Kendall Square.”