Capital Efficiency | Managing the Lab

Finding New Lab Real Estate: A Guide on Researching and Relocating Your Lab Space

Looking for a new lab space is different than looking for a traditional office space or other commercial real estate. Lab managers and other lab decision makers have to consider ventilation, waste management resources in the area, permits and regulations, and local policies. For biotech labs who have outgrown their incubator or startup space, finding a location with other perks like proximity to a city, space for collaboration, dining, recreation, and other amenities is a must for today’s lab employee.

Here’s our guide to the top factors to consider when searching for new property for your new lab space.

How to Research Lab Real Estate and Find New Lab Space

1. Location

Is your lab expanding and growing? Will you need more space in the future and will you be recruiting more lab staff? Think about locations that offer expansion potential and the opportunity to be among related institutions like research facilities, other biotech companies, a robust startup and VC economy, and universities for talent sourcing.

Consider if a space within a building meets compliance requirements for your lab’s needs or if you would need to do significant updates and customizations in order to begin working safely. When you consider your relocation timeline, think of it like buying a home. Are you looking for a lab space that’s move-in ready, or “turnkey” (i.e. designed to be a lab or handled by a lab relocation service) or are you ready to take on construction, contractors, and a “fixer-upper”?

To look for lab-specific real estate in certain regions, try tools like this NY Lab Space Finder and CA Lab Space Finder.

2. Square Footage

How much space will you need for not only your research areas but also for collaborative space, dining, employee break rooms or lounge areas, storage, equipment, machinery, administrative space, and other lab needs.

3. Minimal Foot Traffic

If you are choosing a shared building or space, will your lab be in a quiet area that won’t be interrupted? Where can your scientists focus while doing research?

4. Accessible

Will your vendors or suppliers have a space to deliver your supplies/equipment? Is the space accessible to all who will be working there?

5. Safety

Depending on the nature of your lab, you may have additional safety requirements like hazardous material storage, decontamination showers, and other needs that require space. Outline all safety requirements ahead of time and make sure to evaluate if your new lab space has the ability to maintain safety regulations.

6. Future Potential

Lab moves are time consuming and can be costly. If you invest in a lab space, you want it to have the potential for expansion or growth in the future. Are you purchasing or renting in a growing area? Does the building you’ll move into have additional space that you could look into as your lab grows?

7. Budget

Labs are always considering the bottom line and thinking about spending and lab budget. Think about not just what you would owe now, but how the property value will increase over time. Consider using a lab setup service to cut down on your team’s time, reduce your lab’s offline time during the move, and ensure all regulatory requirements are met, saving you money from lawsuits or fines.

8. Renting vs. Buying

Many newer or growing labs don’t have the capital to buy a space, but buying a space also gives your organization equity over time. Community labs are a great option for smaller biotech startups to get started with a lower commitment. Then, with additional funding, you can move to a larger rented space or eventually purchase.

9. Local Regulations

Research the area’s local regulations for labs. Use resources like OSHA to make sure that the space meets compliance regulations and find out ahead of time if there’s any construction or adjustments that need to be made.

10. Lab Setup

How is the space organized? Review standard lab setup and management practices and find out what spaces you may need in your new lab location. The layout of the space might be able to be adjusted but think about it before you move in.

Relocating your lab is an exciting and challenging time. Use your resources and consult specialists to avoid costly fines and delays in the moving process. Set your lab up for success and scientific innovation.

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