Skip to Main Content

A German-style beer garden near the Sixth Street walkway? A “bike-thru” coffee shop on Broadway? A “really great Jewish delicatessen?”

The Cambridge Redevelopment Authority is entertaining all those proposals, and many more, in response to signs posted around Kendall Square that ask locals to text their ideas for improving the innovation district.

A few suggestions stood out as one-of-a-kind — a large fish tank on Main Street, anyone? — but some common themes did emerge in a list of responses that the redevelopment authority posted online.


“Please save our trees!” someone with a penchant for repeated exclamation points wrote, echoing others. “We live here and we need our green space.”

A number of people requested an off-leash dog park in the area. Others, repeating the refrain of many Kendall Square workers and residents, begged for a pharmacy or grocery store. “There are NONE in Kendall Sq!” one person wrote.


In response to the question of where Kendall Square is today, one individual took a zen approach: “Kendall Square is no longer a place, but a state of mind.” Whatever that means.

Help for the middle

Apartment prices in Kendall Square can boggle minds, but Cambridge is trying to help.

The city is, for the first time, offering housing assistance for middle-income renters who land a unit in a new apartment building at the corner of Third and Binney streets.

Typically, programs like this serve only low-income residents, but surging rents in the area have “created a new affordability problem” even for those who are better off, said Chris Cotter, Cambridge’s housing director.

The subsidies will cut monthly rent from $3,200 for a one-bedroom apartment to as low as $1,663. They’re available on a sliding scale to people earning 80 to 120 percent of the metropolitan area’s median income (or roughly $63,000 to $95,000 a year for a household of two).

Vivo Apartment homes — which promises a bike repair station and self-serve pet wash among its amenities — has set aside 15 units for middle-income households and another 12 for low-income residents.

Applications for the rental program are due Oct. 8. A lottery will be held Oct. 19.

Home away from home

The Boston area houses one of the densest concentrations of life science expertise and capital in the country. So how do entrepreneurs access that talent if they’ve already set up shop elsewhere — say, in Wisconsin?

If you’re Elizabeth Donley, chief executive of Madison-based Stemina Biomarker Discovery Inc., you rack up the frequent-flyer miles.

This summer Donley started renting desk space at the Cambridge Innovation Center. She plans to spend a week each month here as a way to connect with potential investors and collaborators.

“The biggest issue we have [in Wisconsin] is lack of funding. And the second-biggest issue we have is lack of experienced management that have done this before,” she said.

Stemina is developing an early test to diagnose autism-spectrum disorders. The company recently received a $2.7 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health for a clinical trial of 1,500 patients.

If the trial goes well, Donley hopes to use her Cambridge ties to attract venture funding to help the 15-person company grow.

But don’t expect to see Stemina lab space here. The researchers will continue to be based in Wisconsin, in part because running a lab in Madison is much more affordable than in Massachusetts.

Coming to Cambridge, however, has already proved beneficial for the business.

“Sitting in the fourth-floor kitchen, the first day I was here, I met two guys who referred me to three people who referred me to three more people,” Donley said. “I actually should make a chart.”

CAMBRIDGE, MA - 9/23/2015: Koch Institute, public galleries, the images now on display on the gallery walls will be replaced with new ones. They're starting outreach to find what will go up next and use images from MIT scientists and researchers that they blow up to make the displays. (David L Ryan/Globe Staff Photo) SECTION: BUSINESS TOPIC 01STATKendall_pic
The Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT features a gallery that displays photos and art submitted for its Image Awards.

An art and a science

The greens, blues, yellows, and pinks create an eye-catching visual in the main wing of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. But what people really like about the oversized photo, Koch officials say, is what it depicts: T-cells ferrying nanoparticles to attack tumor cells.

The public galleries at the Koch Institute feature a rotating selection of images captured by scientists during their research. Microscopic images are blown up into a work of art almost 8 feet across, sharing a view of science rarely seen outside the lab.

The Koch Institute is accepting submissions through Oct. 23 for next year’s Image Awards, which will go on display in the spring. Judges typically review more than 100 each year and choose about 10.

Many of the submissions come from Koch Institute researchers, but the contest is open to any MIT scientist — student, faculty, or staff, as well as affiliated researchers. The images just have to relate to the life sciences. One on display this year, for example, came from MIT’s civil and environmental engineering department and shows bacteria consuming carbon from a decaying organism.

When the awards first started, some people were concerned about surrounding visitors with images of a deadly disease. But many of the visuals instead focus on cutting-edge cancer treatments.

As Anne Deconinck, the Koch Institute’s executive director, said: “A lot of these are stories of promise and hope and progress.”