Over the past decade, co-working spaces have become the preferred workplace for individuals who desire a specific balance of creativity, freedom, and cost-efficiency. Today, all over the world, about a million entrepreneurs and freelancers across a wide range of industries are sharing and collaborating in the same offices as individuals from other businesses. This number is only expected to keep growing as more organisations recognise the benefits of co-working.

One exciting development in co-working spaces is how they are now finding a way to serve niche industries. In some innovation hubs like Singapore, entrepreneurs and scientists can easily rent a biosafety level 2 laboratory for research in pharmaceutical, biotechnology, chemical engineering, and other related industries.

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However, not all co-working laboratories are created equal. If you’re interested in these types of co-working spaces, here are nine features that you should look for before renting.

High-quality laboratory equipment

One of the main draws of co-working labs is that the renters can share the cost and use of expensive high-tech equipment. Buying pricey cutting-edge instruments isn’t always feasible for smaller research outfits, making this value proposition especially enticing. If you’re interested in renting space at a co-working lab, make sure to ask if they have the type of equipment you need beforehand. These can include thermocyclers, centrifuges, microscopes, gel imaging systems, autoclaves, cold storage equipment, and vacuum systems, among others.

Good lab management

It’s not enough that the lab has the right equipment and facilities; this equipment and facilities should be properly maintained as well. This will help ensure that the laboratory can be safely used for productive research without any downtime. Online reviews and visits to the co-working labs themselves should give you some idea of how well the provided amenities are maintained.

Meeting rooms and event spaces

While all co-working labs will have a common area where renters can facilitate meetings, these aren’t always ideal solutions, especially when you have to share the space with other businesses and freelancers. If you have to do highly technical meetings and presentations regularly, having private meeting rooms or similar facilities should come in handy for this purpose.

Private office spaces

Regardless of the type of lab facilities you need, chances are, you will need a space to do office work as well. While a lot of individuals and businesses are fine with using open-plan offices, these spaces can get quite noisy and disruptive at times. For this reason, co-working spaces that offer private office suites can offer quite an advantage, especially if you need quiet time or often find yourself doing video calls with a remote team. 

Private laboratory suites

One drawback of traditional co-working spaces is that the collaborative atmosphere may make it a bit too easy to share things you shouldn’t. If you’re working with sensitive patents and processes, you probably want to be able to keep these safe from other parties who may also use the same facilities. Thankfully, a few co-working laboratories do offer private lab suites that make it easy to keep your work safe from prying eyes.

A great location

Location and accessibility can play a deciding role in determining the suitability of a co-working laboratory. Generally speaking, most biotech, pharma, and chemical engineering startups prefer to locate in known innovation hubs for their respective industries. This makes it easier to find the specialists that they need to work on projects while also reducing the logistics costs associated with sourcing specialised instruments and consumables.

Storage facilities for hazardous materials

Many chemical compounds and biological agents needed for chemical, biotech, and pharmaceutical research can be potentially hazardous or even lethal to humans. If you need a facility with at least a biosafety level 2 laboratory, you’ll want to make sure that they have the appropriate storage units. This will help prevent accidents and ensure the safety of the samples you need to conduct research.

Connections to contract research organisation networks

Contract Research Organisations (CROs) are now a vital part of the global labour supply chain for large chemical and biological research operations. These outsourcing specialists make it simple for researchers with a limited budget to quickly expand their labour capacity at a reasonable cost. By choosing a co-working lab that can connect you to reputable CROs, you ensure that you can tackle research projects that have more challenging labour requirements.

Adequate virtual and real-world security

Any lab you choose must be secure against both physical and cyber threats. Though industrial espionage used to be considered an almost implausible occurrence, the theft of chemical and biological research is becoming more commonplace. Additionally, the chemical and biological samples used in cutting-edge research may be a potential target for theft or tampering by terrorists and rogue governments. By choosing a co-working lab that offers adequate security, you are not only protecting your work but the wider community as well.

Go with a co-working lab that fully incubates innovation

Co-working laboratories have, so far, been a godsend for entrepreneurs and other experts working in biotech and chemical research. While not appropriate for all kinds of chemical and biological research, they are definitely the best solution for many of the world’s fledgling innovators. By taking the time to choose the right co-working laboratory for your needs, you can ensure better productivity, lower overhead costs, and more chances for collaborative innovation.