Ipsen barrels into Boston with a new R&D hub and a Harvard pact

French drugmaker Ipsen is the latest global giant turning to the Boston area for a leg up in R&D, cutting the ribbon on a Cambridge research center and breaking it in by signing a deal with Harvard University.

Ipsen's new setup, in the works since 2013, is a roughly 62,000-square-foot space nestled in Kendall Square, putting the company's researchers a stone's throw from the minds at MIT, Harvard and Brigham and Women's Hospital, among the area's storied institutions. Called Ipsen Bioscience, the facility will house all the research formerly done at the company's Milford, MA, R&D hub, but the company hopes letting its scientists rub elbows with Cambridge's many industry and academic innovators will spark new ideas and partnerships.

To get things rolling, Ipsen inked a multiyear research agreement with Harvard in which the two institutions will collaborate on projects involving neuroendocrine tumors, neuromuscular disorders and new technologies tied to toxins and peptides, the company said. The deal expands upon a 2013 partnership focused on botulinum molecules in which Ipsen and Harvard's Min Dong are working to improve the efficacy of existing treatments for tremors and spasms.

The Harvard deal provides a blueprint for the kind of collaborations Ipsen is hoping to foster as it settles in in Cambridge, the company said, looking to inculcate an atmosphere of open innovation to jump-start drug discovery.

"Cambridge is a major global center for medical research and development, and our presence here will allow us to take full advantage of the expertise and resources that drive innovation in Massachusetts," Ipsen CEO Marc de Garidel said in a statement.

Ipsen joins the likes of Sanofi ($SNY), Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) and Pfizer ($PFE) in looking to Cambridge's innovation corridor for some fresh ideas, an approach that has worked well for local R&D heavyweights like Biogen ($BIIB) and Novartis ($NVS).

- read the Harvard announcement
- get more on Ipsen Bioscience