November 21 2019

Burlington Garners Highest (Platinum) Level from Biotech Agency

By: Rich Hosford

Burlington went from the lowest to the highest designation by a group that focuses on promoting life science and biotech business in the state. 


Planning Director Kristin Kassner said that the town has garnered a Platinum BioReady rating from MassBio, a big jump from the Bronze rating it had until recently. 


MassBio is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1985 that represents and provides services and support for life sciences entities and member communities to help both first come together and prosper. It represents over 1,200 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, disease foundations and other organizations involved in life sciences and healthcare. 


“MassBio is the key designation, anyone who is in the life sciences recognizes it, it is very important,” Kassner said. “Their rating is very important to prospective companies. To be on their platinum list versus the bronze list is very important.” 


So how does a community get a rating? MassBio has a list of requirements for each level of designation. For example, to get on the list at the bronze level a community must have water and sewer service available in commercial and industrial areas, zoning that allows for biotech laboratories and manufacturing by special permit and an identified point of contact in the municipality to assist in biotech projects. 


Subsequent levels have more stringent requirements that demonstrate a municipality is both open to biotech and has the capacity to handle companies. The Platinum level requires all the conditions of the lower levels (bronze, silver and gold) be met as well as its own requirements. These are that a “municipality's Board of Health has adopted the National Institutes of Health guidelines on rDNA activity as part of its regulations and municipality includes a building or buildings that are already permitted for biotech uses and have 20,000 square feet or more of available space for biotech uses.” 


Alternatively to get a Platinum designation a community can demonstrate it “has a shovel-ready pre-permitted land site with completed MEPA review and municipal water and sewer capacity to meet additional demand.”


“It signifies to the industry that we’re ready,” Kassner said of the town’s new level. “Zoning coupled with the designation and the IH districts are all pieces of the puzzle that we need to put out there. Without those individual pieces we wouldn’t be in a position to attract more life sciences to Burlington as easily as some of our neighbors.”


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