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The life sciences sector reported a record $70 billion of private and public capital investment in North America for 2020, up 93% from 2018, where the previous record was $36 billion. In the first three months of 2021 alone, life science companies had raised a record $12.2 billion. The market trajectory accelerated in the course of 2020 and 2021, while the demand for products in the industry also increased strongly.
In the event of a shortage of suitable facilities and Lab Equipment To meet the complex and specialized needs and labor requirements of US life sciences companies, along with those of rapidly rising rents in established US life science clusters, many scientists are going through tough times. As science has evolved, mainly because of the lower costs and the increasing speed of DNA sequencing and synthesis, there has been an explosion in new biotech companies.
Space struggle facing the biotech industry
Biotech companies have had to leverage a decades-old infrastructure model and wait for new lab spaces to open. Waiting lists and high costs are the result. Essentially, the talent pool for new bioengineering is global, but the availability and access to good quality lab space, reliance on commercial landlords and the scientific ecosystem have not kept up with the pace. Current options are limited and rooted in cities that have always been strongholds of life sciences or pharmaceuticals.
Roger Humphrey, Executive Managing Director and leader of JLL’s Life Sciences group, said, “Expensive and competitive real estate markets are forcing life sciences companies to explore creative real estate options to drive innovation and productivity of their workforce.” Humphrey continued, “In the most desirable life sciences hubs, fierce competition for space and talent is driving the development and renovation of new space, both where you would expect it and in surprising locations where adaptive reuse conversions result in energetic new space.”
MBC BioLabs, Lab Central and Biolabs provide reliable rentable bank spaces. However, there is generally a significant waiting list, vetting process and high rental rates that have become synonymous with the industry. The problem many scientists face is that most incubators do not have a national reach or decentralized network of labs, and some of them take equity in exchange for lab space from startups.
Conversion of offices to labs
According to an report of Newmark, the excessive rental growth has resulted in attractive returns, making lab spaces highly attractive to investors and asset owners. While the increase in remote working has dealt a blow to office building landlords, space demand from the scientific community has increased, resulting in more than 20% of new lab spaces being built through office refurbishments. The figures show a classic supply and demand situation, as scientists cannot perform their tasks at home or via IP telephony.
Liz Berthelette, Newmark’s research director and co-author of the report, said: “The pandemic has shed a brighter light on the industry and the global community is now looking at life sciences and healthcare in a different way.”
Shortage of lab space leads to creative solutions
Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland to provide scientists with rentable wet labs at various locations in the city. This includes their affiliate business incubators, which help commercialize ideas coming from the institutions. However, both settings are running at full throttle. University and urban development authorities have stated that they are struggling to convince developers to take on new life sciences real estate projects as they are expensive and complicated to build.
Jane Shaab, executive director of the University of Maryland BioPark, said, “A developer wants fail-safe leasing and then sends that leasing package to [the] bank and say, ‘This is a project you can’t resist. Open up the cash flow and let’s get started.” Shaab continued, “How do you encourage developers to be more flexible and risk averse rather than risk averse?”
Dupla.Bio, on the other hand, is a new lab space solution that aims to create a network of small hubs in the US and internationally where scientists can select a location and customize a private lab, which will then be built and assembled “just in time.” These labs are located in a cluster – an important community center – with about 40-50 scientists from different companies. The idea behind the project is to provide scientists with a special private space, without isolating them from the wider community.
The company currently has two products in the minimum viable product phase: the BioDome, a geodesic dome with a scalable and modular design that can accommodate 3-6 scientists, and the Mobile BioLab, which contains a BSL2 specification container BioLab on a chassis designed for mobility. attached to a truck. It is designed as a plug-and-play lab for those who have their own space to locate the lab.
Speaking at a science networking event I attended, Ivan Rodriguez Jaubert, co-founder and CEO of Dupla.Bio, said: “The key to keeping costs low is a scalable design system, where any lab can be quickly assembled on demand. “Be able to select the size of their lab, the number of benches, equipment and other items that make it specific to their needs. There are no sunk costs for equipment you never use, you only pay for what you use.”
Co-founder and COO Jonathan Rix added: “We are committed to creating a marketplace of brokers and landlords to place their available warehouse space in the US. We want to break away from just renting or creating custom brick and mortar labs in SFO, San Diego, Boston. We want to challenge the status quo and diversify the availability of high-quality lab space. To us, this means using underutilized spaces and warehouses is the perfect scale to support a community of scientists and their private to accommodate BioLabs.”
The cost of renting a space, especially a highly specialized one such as a laboratory, is becoming increasingly difficult to afford, especially in densely populated cities. For innovation to thrive and develop, scientists need a place where they can work effectively and efficiently without spending most of their budget on rent. Innovations such as Dupla.Bio are helping to solve this crisis.