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MassBio Summit – A summary with key take-aways.

It is always a challenge to find space to accommodate both one’s current needs and future growth, especially for biotech clients. In their world speed to market and staying operational is essential for their success.

As a result, we are witnessing the consumerism of life science. What tenants need is space with the necessary permits and infrastructure and what they want is to have that space to be readily available. It is essential to understand how to balance the two elements.

In order to accommodate current and future needs – you need to understand the growth timeline for biotech clients and anticipate when it makes more sense to reconfigure their current space than to find and build out a new space. One needs to fully understand how much space they actually need and then make sure that space is configured for optimal operation. The key to success is to not overdesign or overbuild.

In the past few years, we have noticed that on site manufacturing has become the new norm. At least half of biotech companies now include some components for bio manufacturing.

The greater Boston area is in need of more cGMP space and we are seeing repositioning of assets but it is important to remember that not every building can become a great GMP space. The best buildings to convert for GMP are old one story rectangular industrial buildings that are an hour max from an R&D hub.  For greater Boston the 1hr ring positions are in such places as Framingham, Norwood and the 128 and 495 rings and these are now market leaders for GMP conversions.

But competition is tough and companies like Amazon are scooping up a lot of these single story buildings so they are becoming harder to find. We will probably be seeing other buildings converted to cGMP spaces. It is more challenging to reposition a 5 or 6 story building and while it might scale in the near future, the demand is not there yet from individual companies.

What we are seeing is companies building space for multiple tenants. As a direct result of Covid and the need for biotech to collaborate to find a vaccine, the mindset is changing among life science companies about privacy vs. the drive for more collaboration and idea sharing. One of the challenges is that these shared spaces must be carefully planned and designed to afford tenants protection for their intellectual properties and privacy while offering shared communal spaces and infrastructure.

Expanding and recruiting for biomanufacturing is key in order for Massachusetts to remain the #1 biotech cluster in the US. Continuing to focus on job training and the regulatory environment is important in Massachusetts as other clusters are becoming very competitive and are gaining traction and considerations.

“In terms of location, the Greater Boston Area dominates inward investment driven by the strength of its life science cluster. This strength is perpetuated by the need to be close to like-minded companies and the potential for collaboration and also being home to “the most innovative square mile on the planet”. The West Coast is also dominant and as covered in this report (Southern California strengthening), San Diego is growing even faster supported by Southern California’s Biotech Beach area.” –Spotlight Life Sciences: Trends & Outlook 2021 by Savills

Massachusetts is a very robust cluster and Mass Bio has been a pioneer in providing resources to biotech companies. In addition, there is solid government and institutional support, a skilled workforce pipeline and other intangibles that give Massachusetts a decided edge.

To sum up: It is important to focus on anticipating the future changes in space requirements, remain flexible and plan for challenges in adding spaces, transforming existing spaces, and increasing biomanufacturing capabilities – especially for smaller companies and start-ups, etc.