Saturday, July 20, 2024

CIC Health ran Covid test sites in Cambridge’s Kendall Square, including this one seen Sept. 1, 2021. (Photo: Marc Levy)

CIC Health, which tackled testing during the Covid pandemic as an offshoot of the international workshare space provider the Cambridge Innovation Center, is ending operations.

A “thank you” letter is posted on the CIC Health website discussing the legacy of the offshoot in numbers achieved over the roughly three years since the emergence of the pandemic: 6.5 million tests facilitated, 13.5 million at-home tests distributed and 1.2 million vaccines administered.

“As our operations conclude, CIC Health wishes to express its gratitude to every team member, every partner, every client and every person who stood alongside us,” the letter says. A spokesperson referred to its website as a “legacy site” as CIC Health is “winding down and concluding their operations.”

There were no details offered about number of employees or what is happening with physical space used by the business in Cambridge or elsewhere. The spokesperson didn’t respond immediately to a request for more information.

Seeing a future of CIC Health

An online database called Growjo estimated that CIC Health had 108 employees.

Chief executive Rachel Wilson posted a letter Tuesday that makes no mention of a shutdown, and instead implies the need for it to remain: “It is a question of when, not if, the next public health crisis will emerge. In the meantime, we are faced with additional health challenges that need to be and can be addressed through collaboration and proper planning.”

In a Jan. 10 interview, Wilson was asked by a Boston Business Journal reporter about “the future of the organization beyond Covid-19” and said there were ways CIC Health could continue to be relevant. “I can think of other types of situations where you need a lot of people to come in and help scale a response effort,” she said. “Maybe after an outbreak. It could be after a major storm or natural disaster and we need workforce to come and help support our government teams and our local health systems.”

An offshoot grows

The Cambridge Innovation Center was launched by MIT grads Tim Rowe and Andrew Olmsted in 1999 with 3,000 square feet of shared offices. It now has campuses in nine locations, including Rotterdam, Holland; Tokyo; and Warsaw, Poland. Rowe told GBH’s Paul Singer in May 2020 that the evacuation of offices after the coronavirus struck would ultimately be good for shared workspaces, because companies could pare their real estate needs while most employees worked from home – suggesting a greater need for flexible workspaces.

Attention also shifted to a new concept: CIC Health.

“As the Covid-19 pandemic began to rage, entrepreneur Tim Rowe, public health leader Dr. Atul Gawande and a group of dedicated people came together with a shared purpose: to build a company that would unlock laboratory capacity and rapidly democratize access to convenient, fast, and affordable testing solutions in communities everywhere,” according to the online thank-you letter. “The U.S. lagged in its ability to deploy testing at scale. And we believed we could help.”

CIC Health launched in June 2020 in partnership with the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, it provided testing services to startups that use its workshare buildings as well as schools, prisons and long-term care facilities. CIC Health said on its website that fall that it had already worked with more than 100 organizations to have more than 100,000 viral tests processed at laboratories it contracts with.

On Oct. 27, 2020, it opened a first test site to the public in Kendall Square.

The last day of operations as a diagnostic testing program for The Broad Institute, the partner of CIC Health, was June 30. It said in a June 12 announcement that the change came as the “once-urgent need for PCR testing has subsided and can be addressed by other providers.”

“The Broad continues to conduct research and develop technologies to better understand, diagnose, and treat infectious diseases,” the statement said.