Coworking space BioLabs, which offers shared office and lab space for biotech startups, is expanding its presence in San Diego to include a new facility north of the Westfield UTC mall.
Nearly double the size of its first location, the new 27,000 square-foot office space is equipped with typical coworking amenities (concierge service, technical and administrative support, collaborative space, etc.), along with a gym and outdoor patio.
The new facility is the former headquarters of upscale fixture and appliance retailer Pirch. Interestingly, the UTC location does not have lab space for its biotech tenants – an offering that made the first BioLabs location uniquely tailored to early stage life science companies.
“In San Diego, a lot of companies are virtual biotechs already in clinical trials and don’t necessarily need wet lab space,” said BioLabs co-founder Susie Harborth. “But they have a growing need for private office space.”
Harborth said BioLabs chose the UTC location due to its increasing concentration of life science giants, including Illumina’s growing campus and Takeda Pharmaceuticals’ new R&D center. The neighborhood is also home to other startup hubs, including incubator EvoNexus and business accelerator and coworking space Connect.
Although there’s less demand for wet lab space than first imagined, Harborth said life science startups still want to be in a biotech-focused coworking space rather than places like WeWork or Regis, which offer space to a variety of industries.
“They want a community of like-minded like-stage company to work in,” Harborth said.
The coworking company first opened in San Diego in 2016 with a 16,000 square-foot space at 10210 Campus Point Drive. That facility will remain open and tenants can use either space interchangeably, Harborth said. One membership gets tenants access to all San Diego locations.
BioLabs San Diego is not an incubator or accelerator, meaning the organization does not take an equity stake as a condition of entry. The coworking space does charge a monthly, per-person membership fee.
Harborth said 35 startups are housed at its first location, with twice that capacity at their new space just two miles down the road at 9620 Towne Centre Drive.
BioLabs has locations in several biotech hubs across the nation, including Boston, New York, North Carolina and San Francisco. The coworking space was co-founded with biotech trade group Biocom, which was founded in San Diego but has since expanded throughout the state of California. Harborth said BioLabs is also partnered with several industry titans, including Eli Lilly, Takeda, Novartis, Sanofi and others.