Startup, co-working and incubator spaces are proliferating throughout the Puget Sound region. But Seattle isn’t just a tech town, it’s also a thriving biotech hub, and those companies need space to get off the ground too.
To that end, BioMed Realty of San Diego is putting the finishing touches on an approximately 43,000-square-foot biotech startup space on the second floor of the 151,194-square Omeros Building at 201 Elliott Ave. W. in Seattle that it owns. The space is called The Labs @ 201 Elliott, and it has five different sized lab and office suites ranging from 3,818 square feet and 13,288 square feet. Spaces all have important lab specifications such as chemical-resistant counters, multiple sinks and a combination of fixed and mobile casework stations.
Each lab space also has its own open office area, and BioMed built out shared conference rooms as part of the startup space so that individual tenants don’t have to do that themselves.
Mike Ruhl, senior director of leasing and development for BioMed’s Seattle office, told GeekWire he is marketing The Labs to small biotech companies that have completed a funding round or two and want to get in a built out lab space quickly.
“It works really well for them to be able to come in and turn on the light switch and go,” Ruhl said.
BioMed tried to keep the space pretty general to appeal to a large variety of companies. Ruhl used a couple of tenants in its other buildings, Novo Nordisk and Nanostring Technologies, as examples of the kinds of companies that would make sense for The Labs.
Ruhl said no leases have been signed yet, but he is working on deals with two possible tenants. BioMed just started showing The Labs this week.
BioMed owns five properties in Seattle and the suburb of Bothell, totaling approximately 600,000 square feet.
Sometimes lost in the glitz of Amazon’s growth is the status of South Lake Union and surrounding neighborhoods as a biotech hub. One of the main moves that jumpstarted development of the neighborhood was Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s decision to move there in the 1990s. That was followed by a host of large companies with some sort of scientific research focus establishing a presence in the neighborhood, including Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, University of Washington School of Medicine, and the Allen Institute for Brain Science, among many others.
But biotech companies have a hard time competing with flush tech companies for land and space, so in recent years there has been a dearth of lab space in South Lake Union and the surrounding area. Ruhl pegged the vacancy rate for biotech space at around 2 percent in the neighborhood, and for pre-built spaces like The Labs, it’s virtually zero.
Biotech companies require robust electrical, mechanical and other systems, so it can be tough for them to find a home. Many buildings, including those built for technology companies, don’t have powerful enough systems. But with few available options, biotech companies, specifically startups don’t often have a lot of choices.
“When you’re a startup sometimes you have to take the spaces you can get by with,” Ruhl said.