Bayer plots a dealmaking hub in the biotech boomtown of Cambridge, MA

Bayer has dipped its toe into Cambridge, MA, teaming up with the Broad Institute on a cancer therapy in 2013 and contributing $25 million Versant's biotech venture fund in 2014. Now, the German pharma is going full throttle, setting up the Bayer East Coast Innovation Center, establishing a regional presence and boosting its ties to the biotech community.

The new center will "enable Bayer's teams to deepen relationships and opportunities to influence the discovery and development of new therapeutics," the company said in a statement on Tuesday. An opening date for the center was not disclosed.

Bayer's existing relationships in Cambridge include a $252 million deal with Dimension Therapeutics inked in 2014. It will fund the remaining preclinical work on and Phase I/IIa trial for a gene therapy for hemophilia A and potentially take over for Phase III studies. In March last year, Bayer tapped the Broad again, this time for cardiovascular R&D, and in December it wagered $335 million on Cambridge's CRISPR Therapeutics, setting up a joint venture targeting blood disorders, blindness and congenital heart disease.

"We want to be a partner of choice in the industry--one that collaborates effectively with not only scientists from the great research hubs in the U.S., but also clinicians, patient advocates and other key players essential to bringing novel medicines to market," said Habib Dable, president of Bayer's U.S. pharma division, in the statement.

The company's planned Cambridge site is the latest in a collection of similar efforts in San Francisco, Berlin, Beijing, Osaka and Singapore, where the drugmaker has set up partnering hubs and startup incubators.

Bayer is hardly the first Big Pharma to open up shop in Cambridge's biotech hotbed. In 2015 alone, Eli Lilly ($LLY), Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY) and Baxalta ($BXLT) all broke ground in Cambridge's Kendall Square. They joined the likes of Pfizer ($PFE), Novartis ($NVS) and Biogen ($BIIB), which have all strengthened their ties there.

While the ongoing colonization of the biotech hub is a boon for the Big Pharmas that so desperately want to cozy up to innovators and academics, it could also be its own undoing. As more pharmas move in, the demand for local lab space is skyrocketing, driving rents ever higher. This may not faze deep-pocketed pharmas like Bayer, but could eventually price out the innovators that drew them there in the first place.

- here's Bayer's statement

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