Why Flexible Lab Spaces Are Crucial for Start-Up Success in Science

In the world of medical research and pharmaceutical development, an innovative trend is fast gaining traction — flexible lab space. Drawing on the concept of co-working and space-as-a-service, this is revolutionizing the way scientists partner in advanced scientific research, researchers, and start-ups access and use lab space. 
Flexible lab spaces, a paradigm that allows multiple users to share one or more fully-equipped labs. This is similar to the shared office spaces that have become commonplace in many urban areas around the world. By leveraging the space-as-a-service model, these shared lab spaces provide affordable, flexible, and resource-efficient solutions for the scientific community. 

The economic upside of shared lab spaces

Shared lab spaces offer immense economic benefits.

Cut Down on Cost

For one, they drastically cut down on costs. Building, equipping, and maintaining a lab can run into millions of dollars, a prohibitive expense for many. By sharing a lab space, these costs are distributed among multiple users, making it more affordable for everyone involved.



Secondly, shared lab spaces allow for flexibility. This means users can rent out lab space for the exact duration they need, whether that’s a few hours for a single experiment or several months for a longitudinal study. No more paying for unused space or being locked into long-term leases.


In a flexible lab space, scientists can get faster results, in large part because they can initiate new studies faster without having to wait for major renovations. More flexible design can also help companies navigate the current shortage of suitable lab space in many U.S. markets. As an added benefit, when lab spaces can be rearranged on demand, they support more engagement and collaboration between researchers and make a facility more appealing to talent.


Innovation and Collaboration

Shared lab spaces foster innovation and collaboration. Researchers working in the same space can network, share ideas, and collaborate on projects, accelerating scientific discovery and fostering a vibrant community of innovators.


Owners and developers of real estate generally have to walk the fine line between seeking to attract maximum prospective tenant interest through things like amenities and unique spaces, and creating the highest possible return on investment based on a projection of what the future holds.


The life sciences industry presents a unique opportunity and challenge to create a space design that can adapt to the market. Given the lifecycle of a life sciences company is very different from a typical office user and is less likely to live out a full seven or 10+ year lease in a space, it is important to make sure that the second-generation space will be just as attractive to the next tenant. It is similarly important to make sure that, if the demand one day is for biology space but in five years servers and storage for digital health machine learning development is the market driver, a building can pivot to serve the needs of those companies.


Use cases of shared lab spaces

The potential use cases for shared lab spaces are vast, catering to different needs across the scientific community. Biotech start-ups, for instance, can take advantage of these spaces to conduct preliminary research and development before they’ve secured enough funding to establish their own labs. 


Furthermore, academic researchers can use shared lab spaces during periods of peak demand, when their institution’s labs are fully booked. This ensures research continuity and promotes efficiency.


Pharmaceutical companies can also leverage these spaces for specialized projects that their in-house labs may not be equipped to handle, such as cutting-edge gene editing or nano-engineering experiments.


Co-works: flexible operating software for shared lab spaces 
Managing a shared lab space requires a certain level of sophistication, given the delicate nature of the work being conducted and the costly equipment involved.
A dedicated operating system is necessary to streamline the operation and management of flexible workspaces, including shared lab spaces. It should offer easy-to-use booking and scheduling features, ensuring all users can access and reserve the lab spaces they need, when they need them. It should also feature permission-based booking, so species and equipment that require specific parameters are shown to the correct people.


The future of scientific innovation is flexible

Flexible lab spaces are a testament to the power of sharing resources and fostering collaboration. They democratize science, making cutting-edge research facilities accessible to a broader range of scientists and innovators. As we continue into the 21st century, it’s clear that shared lab spaces will play a significant role in the scientific advancements to come.

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