Why Kendall Square Remains Central for Innovation

Kendall Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts is a renowned home of technology and biotechnology innovation. For more than a century, companies in Kendall Square have changed the world. It has evolved to stay at the center of new, exciting ideas, discoveries, and research because of the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of those who call this area home.

Its storied history and central location offer numerous and invaluable benefits for new and established companies, which is why CIC began right in Kendall Square and still maintains a presence there. 

The Power of Proximity for Innovators 

Kendall Square is the model for an Innovation District, continuously reinventing itself to stay at the forefront of what’s next in research and technology. A brief history of the area includes the establishment of a NASA research center in the 1960s, the founding of Biogen in the 70s, the completion of the human genome project and more – but the heart of what makes it unique is the penchant for fostering innovation and entrepreneurship. 

MIT graduate and Cambridge native Tim Rowe started CIC (Cambridge Innovation Center) in 1999. He believed that a shared space would help entrepreneurs like Rowe and his friends launch businesses. Sharing resources, including each other’s energy and creativity, helped make building new companies easier. 

The power of proximity is more than merely anecdotal. Researchers at MIT found that collaboration on academic papers and patents increased the closer the physical distance between faculty members’ offices.

It is no accident that Kendall Square is dubbed “the most innovative square mile on the planet.” 

Aside from the benefits of its physical location near some of the world’s best universities and its access to Boston via public transit, there is potential to bump into another innovator on every sidewalk, around every corner, and in the hallways and elevators of buildings like One Broadway and 245 Main – where you’ll find the CIC innovation campus in Cambridge, home to half of the more than $14 billion in venture capital investment in Kendall Square.

Public event at CIC Cambridge

Community does not only exist within the walls of each individual organization. Rowe and other neighborhood leaders launched the Kendall Square Association to formalize the partnerships and events to preserve the unique characteristics of the area. Kendall Square continues to be at the forefront of innovation, including the recent launches of the AI hub and mobility hub.

Mature Companies Continue to Invest in Kendall Square Presence

Kendall Square is not just for scrappy startups taking on new challenges and finding solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems. Businesses of all sizes and stages reap the benefits of the area’s talent pool and innovative spirit.

It’s why industry leaders and household names like Moderna, Apple, Google, Meta, Amazon, and Microsoft maintain a presence in Cambridge – and often expand or invest more in the area. Moderna and Takeda Pharmaceuticals, for example, remain committed to Kendall Square as a global center for biotechnology research and innovation. 

Cambridge is an ideal landing spot for international companies that want to establish a presence in the U.S. Clinical-stage oncology company Akamis Bio, based in the U.K., needed a flexible office space to help scale U.S. operations as it continues to develop therapeutics for hard-to-treat cancers. Leaders looked at many types of office space in Boston and Cambridge near the heart of biotech innovation. 

Akamis Bio chose CIC Cambridge because CIC’s flexible workspace solutions can accommodate fluctuating business needs in an ideal location. CEO Howard Davis also cited the welcoming community as a key differentiating factor as it can assist with building a strong workplace culture. The area offers many options for making connections outside of work, such as attending a Venture Café Thursday Gathering or grabbing lunch at one of the many local dining options.

Attendees networking at a Venture Café Thursday Gathering

The Benefit of A Centralized Location vs. Remote-Only Work 

Location is only one facet of workspace decision-making. Because of the raging debate surrounding remote work versus return-to-the-office mandates, many organizations are questioning the need for physical office space. Is that investment worth it? 

While people want flexibility in where and how they work, a recent report from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, in partnership with CIC, found that a majority of respondents think companies should offer an option for in-person work, especially for collaborative tasks.

Technology connects the globe in many ways and makes remote work possible, but it cannot recreate the benefits of in-person interactions. Research about in-person work has shown that it yields more breakthrough discoveries and nearly everyone agrees that face-to-face connection is vital to a successful, long-term business relationship. 

Choosing a central office or lab space location kicks in-person benefits up a notch. Dense, walkable communities like Kendall Square offer more “bump factor” – the chance encounters around the neighborhood that can lead to new partnerships, introductions and ideas – than spread out, car-dependent locations.

Plan a Visit to Kendall Square

Don’t feel like you have to take our word for it – visit Kendall Square to get a real feel for what makes it special. The Kendall Square Association curates a local event calendar, or you 

can get a taste of the connections and opportunities in our local innovation ecosystem at one of the many CIC-hosted events open to the public. 

Already looking for office space in Cambridge? Our flexible shared and private office solutions in the heart of Kendall Square have everything your team needs, no matter how your team likes to work.

The Ecosystem Cambridge North America