Opening our doors, and minds

Boston has been a special place for me ever since my research fellowship days at Harvard. So when I was appointed head of our new R&D satellite, I felt like I had returned to my scientific home.

Anyone familiar with the area will tell you the Boston-Cambridge region is home to a vibrant mix of ideas and scientists that make innovation thrive. As a science-led company, it made sense for GSK to have a base here, to be close to our current collaborators and meet new ones.

Jason Gardner stands in the new loft-like space of GSK's satellite office in the Boston-Cambridge area. The design of the space will foster idea-sharing and collaboration.

We’ve been working with academics, biotechs, and venture capitalists in area for years and have more than 25 existing collaborations and 200 active clinical trials here. But our current collaborators told us they wanted better access to GSK and we discovered that other scientists were looking for opportunities to work with us more closely at an earlier stage as they seek to make medicines. So we listened, packed up our bags, and created a new satellite office  in Kendall Square, the first of its type ,and the opposite of the big-lab-pharma model. 

Our vision for the satellite is to be a two-way portal, a home-base, for scientists to interact. For our collaborators, we want this to be the entryway to our entire organization, providing easy access to every GSK resource in our global R&D infrastructure. For us, it gives greater visibility and access to leading researchers and complementary capabilities, bringing in new technologies and ideas at the cutting edge of transformational or disruptive science. All of this within just a couple steps or subway stops from our door.

When it comes to the power of ideas, we learned that building size doesn’t matter. This small, renovated loft—with an open plan work space and high-speed video linkups—has the informal but fast-paced vibe you’d expect to find at any start-up company. That’s intentional, because its main purpose is to stimulate high-value scientific dialogues. It has no labs (we’ve got that covered with our other regional facilities, and we may rent lab space like a start-up) but plenty of open spaces where ideas can germinate.

We will be small, agile and accessible because we believe the spark of innovation is just as likely to ignite over a cup of coffee as it is in the lab.