Boston Blog

In Cambridge, science means business

Last night, WGBH, as part of the Cambridge Science Festival, aired an hour-long live show, called Science City Summit, about science in Cambridge, featuring local biotech reporters and business types (analysts, lawyers, industry scientists) talking about why Cambridge is such a biotech hub.

I just watched it online. They should have called it “Biotech City Summit.” I was expecting the show to talk about the science that goes on in Cambridge, but the discussion centered mostly on the business issues surrounding biotech/pharma: the job market, workforce training, corporate taxes, housing costs, competition from other cities and states to attract businesses.

Science was discussed only in terms of its ability to make money and fuel the economy. Like the Science Carnival I attended over the weekend, there was quite a biotech slant on this show that was presumably about science. Is the public interested in science only as it relates to revenue generation? Of course, biotech in Cambridge is hard to ignore. But I hope that next year, if they do another show like this, they would focus on another aspect of science in the city, like all the great science happening in Cambridge university labs.

White Coat Notes, the Globe’s blog about local science/medicine, gave a quick roundup of the show. The quote at the end of the post, from an ecologist from the Nature Conservancy, summed it up well:

“I was surprised by how much science is viewed as an economic issue, and not as an intellectual or cultural issue.”

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