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September 5, 2022

Shared labs in the Greater Boston area

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biotech
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life science
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startup
Lab scheduler

Boston, Massachusetts - the state's capital not only appears on numerous lists for being amongst the most livable cities in the world, but its greater area has also managed to become the world’s top biotech hub. Accordingly, the Greater Boston area is known to generate some of the most innovative developments in the manufacturing of treatments and diagnostics. Cambridges’ famous ‘Kendall Square’ alone is known to be the “most innovative square mile on the planet”. Being home to the world-renowned MIT and Harvard University, also the presence of a vibrant and extensive Ecosystem for entrepreneurs and inventors have catalyzed this development.

However, for young companies it is not only crucial to get access to talent and capital, but also to decide where to allocate their investment. Decisions like these are often driven by costs and can be difficult to make.

According to an article published by CB Insights in 2019, 70% of technology companies fail, most in their first 20 months (CB Insights, 2019). One of the most common reasons stated in literature is the lack of capital. Therefore, pressure on startup founders to be careful with their funds is extremely high. With lab equipment easily running into the 1,000s there is often a choice that must be made between purchasing the right equipment to enable the research to continue or just adapting the experimental approach.

This is where shared labs can play an important role - here collaboration and cooperation are the main principles. Using a facility where one not only can share office space but also lab equipment, and often even get access to mentoring and potential investors, may be a novel idea to some companies - sharing doesn’t fit the narrative of a competitive workspace. However, many companies are now beginning to recognize the benefits offered by such facilities. By joining a community of support and collaboration - entrepreneurs can meet, share the experiences of building a company, exchange ideas and work together.

Once the idea of sharing has been embraced, the next hurdle would be to decide where to go. In the spirit of sharing, we have gathered a list of shared lab facilities in the Greater Boston Area, so you can see a snapshot of what is available to you. 

BioLabs

BioInnovation Labs (BioLabs) - what started with one site in Cambridge scaled up to now 11 locations in the US and 3 in Europe (Germany and France). BioLabs offer fully equipped innovative co-working and state-of-the-art shared lab facilities, designed to provide startups with the ecosystem, infrastructure, and equipment they need to build their biotech's successfully. Their presence is expanding in leading innovative clusters. BioLabs independently or in partnership with academic institutes (for example, Tufts University) or industry partners such as Eisai launches and operates these on-demand lab & office spaces. BioLabs sites vary in sq ft area, but their offerings are consistent across sites and the facilities could be as big as 50,000 sq ft, with tens of companies working at a site, and facilities typically include tissue culture suites, microbiology rooms, qPCR, HPLC, flow cytometer, microscopes, plate readers, centrifuges, fume hoods, autoclaves, and much more. Also, BioLabs handles all the safety and compliance permitting required for the companies in the BioLabs spaces. BioLabs does programming & events that are educational and facilitate intentional but informal collision of community in their ecosystems. Special partnerships exist between BioLabs and stakeholders (for example, Sanofi) that provide domain expertise, technology (for example, Thermo Fisher) etc., which all add value to the start-ups in BioLabs spaces.

We had the opportunity to speak to Adam Milne, at the time of the interview, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of BioLabs, and learn more about his journey and the exciting ecosystem of BioLabs. Currently Adam is the COO of Colossal Biosciences, and continues to stay as Board Member of BioLabs, to advise the company through its prolific growth phase. Adam has worked at Pfizer for more than 20 years and therefore brings extensive experience from the pharma sector, paired with passion for entrepreneurship. His sister-in-law and brother both independently started their own biopharmaceutical businesses focused on developing human therapeutics, which showed him the perspective as well as challenges of an entrepreneur. Four years ago, he met Johannes Fruehauf, Founder, President, and CEO of BioLabs, who was driven by the mission of helping life science entrepreneurs to succeed in their challenging environment. Johannes asked thought provoking questions on how barriers could be removed and technology translation from lab to market could be facilitated, what would make the life of an entrepreneur easier etc. Enthusiastic about this mission, Adam joined Johannes and the BioLabs team. Also, Adam adds that “Kendall Square was not as vibrant a place a couple of years ago as it is now”.

BioLabs headquartered in Cambridge (139 Main St) has three lab & office spaces in Greater Boston:

Ipsen Innovation Center BioLabs (650 E Kendall St, Cambridge), closed for operations as of Aug 2022. Typical equipment / infrastructure offered at the sites:

  • Private and shared office space
  • Common areas, including kitchen, conference rooms, wellness rooms
  • Private labs
  • ~50+ benches in shared lab space
  • Instruments include, HPLC, Microscopes, Flow cytometer, Cell Counters, Thermal cyclers, fume hoods, and many more
  • Access to Tufts University core facilities to the start-ups at the Launchpad BioLabs
  • Access to pharma partners at Eisai BioLabs

LabCentral

LabCentral - a Non-Profit Organization founded in 2013 - comprised of multiple facilities, is only a few steps away from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the middle of the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts. LabCentral´s multiple Cambridge facilities host 100 tenants in the field of Human Life Sciences. 

They emphasize a “culture of care” - therefore creating a productive, safe, and pleasant environment to ensure the well-being of tenants was essential in their modern office design according to Lyndsey Rissin, Director of Operations and Site Head at  LabCentral 238. LabCentral provides modern common areas, which invite residents to generate and foster interaction between researchers. Tenants have access to open office spaces as well as private office suites, in conjunction with shared lab facilities and private lab spaces. In addition to that, group purchasing as well as the common use of other programs to reduce costs are offered.

Applicants eligible for the two-year service agreements are chosen on a rolling basis and must be a good fit scientifically, as well as culturally. They are assigned to the sites according to their incubation stage.

LabCentral Locations:

  1. 700 Main Street, North Cambridge, MA
  2. 610 Main Street, Cambridge, MA
  3. 238 Main Street, Cambridge, MA

Equipment / infrastructure:

  • Autoclave, bottle wash, and ice machines
  • Deionized water, vacuum, and gas supply
  • Chemical hoods and BSL-2 cell-culture facilities
  • Centrifuges, vortex, shakers, freezers, storage facilities
  • Flow cytometry, PCR, plate readers, imaging station, luminometry, HPLC

Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2)

The Massachusetts Medical Device Development Center (M2D2) is an incubator for smaller medical device companies, as well as biotech startups and entrepreneurs. Aside from the workspace itself, it offers easy, affordable, and coordinated access to world-class researchers and resources at the UMass Lowell and the UMass Medical School campuses of the University of Massachusetts.

Services to their tenant start-ups include business development service (e.g., business plan), engineering and design assistance (e.g., prototyping), and clinical pathway assistance. 

Their offer ranges from Medical Device Labs to Biotechnology Labs, as well as private and co-working office spaces. It is rounded up by access to University of Massachusetts engineering and research facilities & medical facilities, as well as University of Massachusetts Lowell core research space.

M2D2 Laboratories locations:

  1. At University of Massachusetts Chan Medical Center: 55 N Lake Ave, Worcester, MA 
  2. New light and bright, fully equipped shared lab facility: 110 Canal Street, 4th Floor, Lowell, MA
  3. In the Wannalancit Mills Office and Technology Center: 600 Suffolk Street, Lowell, MA

Equipment / infrastructure:

  • Office space and conference rooms
  • Private office suite with 5 offices, a small kitchen, and a conference room (2000 sq ft)
  • Private office space (300 sq ft)
  • Private and Co-Working Wet lab space
  • Access to University of Massachusetts engineering and research facilities & medical facilities
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell core research facilities

Abi-Lab

Abi-Lab describes itself as an accelerator and Bio-incubator, which offers affordable lab space, ready for immediate move-in and custom buildouts in Natick, Massachusetts. 

Their mission is to facilitate the growth and success of their entrepreneurs. Therefore, they strive to create a vibrant and collaborative community. In addition to access to cutting-edge equipment, they offer shared amenities, such as office workspace and community spaces. As well as the on-site pre-clinical services, they also offer additional mentoring, business resources, exposure to potential partners and investors, and a series of lectures. With their established partnership structure in pharmaceutical, biotech and analytical instrument industries, Abi-Lab is also able to provide its residents with access to capital and educational resources.

Abi-Lab Locations:

  1. 27 Strathmore Road, Natick, MA
  2. 22 Strathmore Road, Natick, MA

Equipment/ infrastructure:

  • private lab suites (ranging from 500 sq. ft. to 4,000 sq. ft.). Most private suites include office space.
  • Lab suites come standard with 16 or 24-foot benches, a sink, and shelving.
  • Infrastructure includes deionized water system, CO2 gas and a system for the removal of lab wastewater
  • an eye-wash station, and a 10-by-5-foot island in most labs
  • credit for foundation equipment, which includes freezers, double-door refrigerators, biosafety cabinets, and double stack incubators

Read our case study with Abi-Lab here.

The Engine

Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, The Engine’s mission is to support startups that seek to create a positive impact on society. They particularly focus on prioritizing young companies in Tough Tech: they value breakthrough ideas over early profit, in order to catalyze research in new and complex fields and push the boundaries of innovation and transform the planet (e.g., sustainable energy, water and food security, health).

Launched by the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), The Engine supports the commercialization of such disruptive technologies by providing companies with a space to put down roots, access to capital, knowledge and support, and helps them to create network connections within their field. Specialized equipment is provided according to tenants’ needs.

The Engine Location:

  • 501 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA

Read Part 1 of our Shared Lab articles.

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References

CB Insights. (2019). How To Lose It All: 8 Startups That Went From Investor Darling To Cautionary Tale. How To Lose It All: 8 Startups That Went From Investor Darling To Cautionary Tale. Retrieved 09 02, 2022, from https://www.cbinsights.com/research/startup-failure-lessons/