Why Biogen Idec Foundation Just Made Its Biggest Grant To Date

The Museum of Science in Boston boasts an elaborate biology exhibit called The Hall of Human Life, which called on the state’s leaders in biology and medicine to consult on interactive displays on current science. It’s an expo of the latest innovations in biotechnology, and with a recent $2.5 million grant, the brand of Cambridge drug maker Biogen Idec has landed a center-stage role in the project.  

The five-year grant to the exhibit is the largest the Biogen Idec Foundation has made to any organization, and comes not long after a separate, $1 million grant to the same museum for a Science Education Fund. 

It’s a hell of a museum, and the foundation’s recent sizable grants definitely reflect its mission to promote science literacy and encourage young people to consider science careers. But even aside from that, it’s a smart move for the foundation, and the brand of the company. 

After all, the exhibit is described as a “world-class resource reflecting Massachusetts' leadership in the life sciences and medicine.” What local biotech company wouldn’t want to be a prominent backer of that? And with the $2.5 million gift, the focal point of the biology exhibit will even be renamed the “Biogen Idec Foundation Exploration Hub.

Biogen Idec is a highly successful firm located in Cambridge, known for making drugs for neurological disorders and autoimmune disorders, and leading treatments for multiple sclerosis. They recentlyannounced profits of $6.9 billion in 2013. Its corporate foundation has in the past given about $1.5 million a year to benefit the communities in which it operates with a focus on science education. As the company grows, so does its philanthropy.

Tech and science companies are reliant on a future in which people are pursuing STEM careers, which is why so many of their corporate foundations support science education grants. And the wildly popular interactive exhibit shows a lot of potential for giving local young people that spark of excitement often cited as the reason they go into science careers. 

The foundation’s role as an eponymous, high-profile supporter also no doubt holds great potential to connect that excitement to the firm’s brand and reputation, linking up a display of cutting edge medical and biological breakthroughs to Biogen Idec. It also will inform the general public on the kinds of work the firm and its peers are up to. All that makes the Hall of Human Life a project the foundation clearly wants to be on board with for years to come.

Read more IP coverage about Biogen Idec Foundation’s science education grants here, and a profile of the executive director here.