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City Council prepares to hear about Boston’s increase in unused lab space

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City-Tall Building: 601 Congress, in Seaport, is one of many office buildings around Boston being converted into lab space to accommodate the growing demand from life sciences companies.

© David L.Ryan / Globe Staff
The 601 Congress, in Seaport, is one of several office buildings around Boston that have been converted into lab space to accommodate the growing demand from life sciences companies.

Boston City Council Holds Hearing on Space Lab Boom


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The Boston City Council is scheduled to grip a hearing Tuesday on the rapid development of laboratories and life sciences spaces in residential neighborhoods across the city. City Council member Ed Flynn, who represents South Boston and parts of other downtown neighborhoods that have seen buildings converted into lab space, requested a hearing earlier this year to “ensure that our communities and neighbors have a role” in reviewing and approving such projects. He has since been joined by advisers Michael Flaherty, also from South Boston, and Michelle Wu, who is chairing the panel that will grip Tuesday’s hearing. Boston’s life sciences development has exploded over the former year, fueled by capital injections into drug companies and concerns about falling demand for more traditional real estate development such as offices and apartment buildings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several office buildings have launched conversion to lab space, and several projects in the city’s approval pipeline have also changed plans to include more space for life sciences-oriented businesses. – Tim Logan

Life science

Moderna plans to expand trials of COVID vaccine for children

Moderna said it will expand an ongoing trial of a coronavirus vaccine in children under 12 to collect more safety data amid concerns that RNA shots may cause rare side effects on the heart. She said clinical trial schedules are regularly reevaluated based on discussions and requests from regulators, and the Cambridge-based drugmaker expects to have data supporting the authorization in late 2021 or beforetime 2022. Concerns about side effects from both Moderna and Pfizer Inc. Vaccines based on BioNTech SE mRNA are up following reports of rare cases of inflammation of the heart and endocarditis in young adults. The New York Times reported earlier Monday that the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech partnership was expanding the volume of pediatric COVID vaccine trials at the request of the Food and Drug Administration. The Food and Drug Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment. – Bloomberg News


Jack Abe cuts the deal to grow in New York and New Jersey

Jack’s Abby has expanded its partnership with distributor The Sheehan Family Cos. to grow in New York and New Jersey, even as a Framingham craft brewery engages in a legal battle with a previous Massachusetts wholesaler. Jack’s Abby dropped Atlantic Importing Co as its Massachusetts distributor earlier this year, eventually choosing Sheehan to handle its in-state distribution network. The move prompted a fast lawsuit from Atlantic that could put a unused state law on the line that gives brewers more freedom to desert contracts with distributors. Now, to simplify its network, Jack’s Abby is replacing Cool Fluids with Sheehan for its New York and New Jersey areas. But this time, Jack Abe describes the breakup as amicable – as opposed to his burst with the Atlantic. Sheehan also distributes Jack’s Abby in Rhode Island. Jack’s Abby currently sells beer in nine states: all six New England states, plus New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. – John Chestow


Insurance giants call off merger amid federal antitrust concerns

Two of the world’s largest insurance brokers, Aon and Willis Towers Watson, announced Monday that they have called off a planned $30 billion merger, just over a month following filing a lawsuit against the Department of Justice to block the union, in a triumph for the White House. The Justice Department’s case against the proposed merger was the first major shake-up by the Biden administration, which signaled its willingness to take a tough line on corporate mergers. The case is arguably the first antitrust triumph for President Joe Biden, who final week appointed Jonathan Kanter to run the Justice Department’s antitrust division. Kanter has spent a big part of his career fighting Big Tech on behalf of little businesses. On Monday, Onn and Willis Towers Watson said they had decided to end litigation at the Department of Justice and proceed independently. The planned merger, first proposed in March 2020, has faced scrutiny from regulators around the world. Some, including EU officials, have granted conditional approval based on various concessions and divestments. A company spokesperson told the New York Times that the Justice Department’s lawsuit was not due to go to trial until at fewest November, which would have delayed the deal until the first quarter of 2022 at the earliest, and was untenable for ON Company. – The New York Times


Beef prices could rise as the “little cattle” market rises to a five-year lofty

An unknown market, the little cattle market, indicates that expensive beef can be kept for a while. Forage cattle are animals that have not yet been fattened on maize for slaughter in fattening pens. Prices of those in the futures market rose to their highest levels since March 2016 in Chicago. The gains came on the heels of a survey that showed the US cattle herd shrank 1.3 percent over the former year. Severe weather and lofty feed prices helped the trend, with cold killing abnormally calves earlier this year. Recent droughts and record lofty temperatures have also forced herders to send animals for slaughter earlier. The shift could unkind higher beef prices are on the way for consumers, who have already seen increases in burgers and steaks in the former year following the pandemic disrupted supply chains. – Bloomberg News


FCC: SpaceX seeks rural broadband subsidies to join urban parking lots

The Federal Communications Commission is challenging Elon Musk’s $886 million bid by SpaceX to support rural broadband, saying some of the money appears to be destined for parking and airport service with satellite-delivered broadband. The company was among the 197 winning bidders in final year’s auction letters sent by the Federal Communications Commission on Monday in an effort the agency said was an attempt to “clean up” the auction results. Other recipients of the letters included Charter Communications, which won bids for $1.2 billion in subsidies, and Lumen Technologies, which won $262 million. Charter and Space Exploration Technologies, as it is officially known, did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment, and a Lumen representative did not immediately provide any comment. The auction, known as the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, is a cornerstone of the FCC’s efforts to aid expand broadband to areas with little or no service. The agency announced on Dec. 7 that it had won bids to share $9.2 billion in support over 10 years. The FCC considered 417 winning applicants. SpaceX, among the beforetime winners, has applied for $886 million in subsidies for the service from its already existing fleet of satellites. In a press release about the messages, the FCC stated “complaints that the program was about to fund broadband for parking and well-served urban areas.” – Bloomberg News


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