In Massachusetts, there are few addresses as renowned for hosting innovation and startups as Cambridge’s Kendall Square. Kendall’s close proximity to MIT is a major selling point for the area, allowing young engineers to quickly jump from the dorm room to the boardroom.
In an effort to ensure the neighborhood keeps its mantle as a magnet for startups, last month the City of Cambridge proposed requiring every commercial development project in Kendall Square to set aside 5 percent of any new construction as office space for startup companies. This includes affordable rents, flexible lease agreements, and other amenities for companies that qualify as startups.
The proposal raises the old question of whether government and business make good bedfellows. Is Cambridge wise to require commercial developments to help out innovators? Or could the proposal backfire and attract larger tech firms into the area, driving out smaller startups at the same time.
In this edition of The Exchange, we explore Cambridge’s effort to secure Kendall Square as a hotspot for innovation.
Cambridge City Councilor Lelund Cheung, a vocal backer of the proposal, argues that Kendall Square’s entrepreneurial environment will become stale if measures are not put in place to help startups compete with bigger companies for access to Kendall Square’s real estate.
Ovadia Robert Simha, former planning officer for MIT, argues that while many Kendall Square landowners currently offer prices that startups cannot afford, the current proposal to will make only a modest impact to the long-term health of Cambridge’s innovative community.