The Shortage of Lab Space in the United States Is Stifling Innovation

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The life sciences sector recorded a record $ 70 billion in private and public capital investments in North America in 2020, 93% more than in 2018, which maintained the previous record of $ 36 billion . In the first three months of 2021 alone, life sciences corporations had raised a record $ 12.2 billion. The market trajectory accelerated during 2020 and 2021, with the demand for products in the industry also increasing.

With the shortage of adequate laboratory facilities and equipment to meet the complex and specialized needs, as well as the labor requirements of U.S. life sciences companies, along with rapidly rising rental prices in clusters of life sciences established in the United States, many scientists face difficult times. As science has evolved, mainly due to reduced cost and increased rate of sequencing and DNA synthesis, there has been an explosion in new biotechnology businesses.

Space struggles facing the biotechnology industry

Biotechnology companies have had to take advantage of a decades-old infrastructure model and wait for new laboratory spaces to open up. This results in waiting lists and high costs. Fundamentally, the talent pool for new bioengineering is global, but the availability and access to good quality laboratory space, dependence on commercial owners, and the scientific ecosystem have not kept pace. Current options are limited and rooted in cities that have always had a bastion of life sciences or pharmaceuticals.

Roger Humphrey, CEO 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 in its workforce “. Humphrey continued: “In the most sought after life sciences centers, fierce competition for space and talent is leading to the development and renewal of new spaces, both where one might expect and in amazing places where adaptive reuse conversions give rise to energy. new space “.

MBC BioLabs, Central Lab, and Biolabs offer reliable rental bench space. However, there is generally a significant waiting list, verification process, and high rental rates that have become synonymous with the industry. The problem many scientists face is that most incubators have no national scope or decentralized network of labs, and some of them take capital in exchange for startup lab space.

Conversion from offices to laboratories

According to a Newmark report, disproportionate rent growth has yielded attractive returns, making lab space extremely attractive to investors and asset owners. While the increase in remote work was a blow to office building owners, the demand for space by the scientific community increased, resulting in more than 20% of new lab spaces that are being built from office conversions. The figures show a classic supply and demand situation, as scientists cannot carry out their tasks from home or via IP telephony.

Liz Berthelette, Newmark’s research director and co-author of the report, said: “The pandemic has shone a brighter light on the industry, and the global community is now ‘a different way’.

The shortage of laboratory space generates creative solutions

Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland offer scientists wet labs that can be rented at various locations in the city. This includes their affiliate business incubators, which help market ideas that come from institutions. However, both institutions are in full swing. Development authorities in universities and cities have said they are struggling to persuade developers to take on new life sciences real estate projects as they are costly and complicated to build.

Jane Shaab, executive director of the University of Maryland BioPark, said: “A developer wants a secure lease and bring this lease package to [the] bank and say, “This is a project you can’t resist.” Open up the flow of funds and let’s go. “Shaab continued,” How do you encourage developers to be more flexible, more risk-averse than risk-averse? “

Dupla.Bio, on the other hand, is a new lab space solution that seeks to create a network of small centers in the U.S. as well as internationally, where scientists can select a location and customize a private lab, which then it is built and assembled “just in time.” These labs are located within a cluster, a key community center, with approximately 40-50 scientists from different companies. The idea behind the project is to offer scientists a dedicated private space, without isolating them from the community at large.

The company currently has two products in the minimum viable product stage: the BioDome, which is a geodesic dome that is a scalable, modular design that houses space for 3-6 scientists, and the Mobile BioLab, which has a container with BSL2 BioLab specification a chassis that attaches to a truck for mobility. It is designed to be a plug-and-play lab for those who have their own space to locate the lab.

Ivan Rodríguez Jaubert, co-founder and CEO of Dupla.Bio, said at a scientific networking event I attended that “The key to keeping costs low is a scalable design system, so that each lab can be set up quickly. On request, customers will be able to select the size of their lab, the number of benches, equipment, and other items that make it specific to their needs. for what you use “.

Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Rix added: “We aim to create a marketplace for agents and owners to make their warehouse space available in the US. SFO, San Diego, Boston We want to challenge the status quo and make the availability of high-quality lab space more diverse. the perfect wrapper to house a community of scientists and their private BioLabs. “

The cost of renting a space, especially a highly specialized one such as a laboratory, is becoming increasingly difficult to bear, especially in densely populated cities. For innovation to thrive and develop, scientists need a place that allows them to work effectively and efficiently without having to spend most of their rent budget. Innovations like Dupla.Bio are helping to solve this crisis.

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