Renting co-working laboratories is no longer just a means for scrappy researchers to get some work done. These laboratories are now an integral part of global scientific research. The establishment of more co-working laboratories has already enabled chronically underfunded science entrepreneurs a realistic solution for reducing start-up risks, truncating research timelines, and creating out-of-the-box solutions. 

In Singapore, these laboratories are proving themselves to be a vital part of the country’s innovation ecosystem, particularly in areas related to biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and chemical engineering. In the United States, the demand for these facilities is also so high that they are now one of the fastest-growing sectors in the real estate economy.

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However, not everyone understands the benefits to be had from locating research activities in a coworking lab space. If these advantages are also not very clear to you at the moment, this quick resource is for you. Here are just some of the benefits of renting a lab rather than building one from scratch:

1.) Lower overhead costs

Purchasing or leasing real estate and outfitting it with cutting-edge lab equipment can be extremely expensive. Additionally, the returns on scientific research can often take years to realize, limiting the income generated by the start-up during the initial phase of research.

Because costs are shared among renters, using a co-working lab tends to be much cheaper than acquiring real estate and building one from scratch for your exclusive use. This makes them a great option for start-ups with limited funding as well as for more established companies that need to temporarily scale up their research capabilities.

2.) Research can begin immediately

The ready availability of equipment and facilities at co-working labs means that your researchers can begin work almost immediately. In contrast, building your own lab and ordering the needed equipment, materials, consumables, and specimens can take months or years to complete. If the start-up is under time pressure to produce patents or other revenue-generating outputs, going with a co-working lab is often the wisest choice for them.

3.) Increased contact with potential investors and collaborators

One great thing about co-working labs is that your team will be in contact with other innovators. This kind of environment allows researchers to mingle with others in their field as well as others with expertise in related areas. This close contact creates the right conditions for innovation and also makes it possible to gain valuable insights from a diverse set of experts.

The fact that co-working labs tend to host so much talent also makes them a magnet for investors. Thus, by moving your team to a co-working lab, you not only increase the odds of research breakthroughs but also improve the chances that your venture will attract the attention of investors.

4.) Focus on productive research

Hazardous waste disposal, equipment maintenance, and specimen storage are just a few important lab activities that do not directly result in productive research. These activities are necessary but they can often use up a significant amount of a start-up’s resources if they have to do them themselves.

Better co-working labs will often have qualified employees or contractors performing or facilitating these tasks. This setup allows start-ups to focus more of their resources on research and testing, allowing them to effectively follow their timetables. In turn, this may permit start-ups to produce income-generating patents much earlier than would otherwise be possible.

5.) Access to contract research organisations and other contractors

Many co-working labs have links with contract research organisations (CROs) and other third parties that could provide biotech and pharma start-ups with a range of useful technical services. CROs can offer start-ups a complete range of services, including pharmacovigilance, data management, clinical monitoring, science writing, and any other service a small biotech or pharma venture might need.

These contractors can also effectively function as a business unit for the start-up, providing capabilities that would not be available otherwise. Due to CRO’s scale and specialisation, engaging with them is often the most affordable way to access certain technical services. Thus, using CROs wisely can give small start-ups a means to further streamline their costs and enhance their research capacity.

6.) Investors may be more willing to take on startups that use co-working labs

The combination of high capital requirements and long average return periods for investments means that getting funding for biotech and pharma ventures can be extremely challenging. What’s more, many investors are unwilling to fund start-ups if the founders do not demonstrate an ability to keep their overheads manageable.

Choosing to locate your research team in a co-working lab rather than spending funds on a high-maintenance lab infrastructure and support staff will, at the very least, assure investors that you understand how to manage risk. Thus, locating your team in the right co-working lab can become key to your venture’s future funding and its eventual success.

Co-working labs are the future

Co-working laboratories provide a means for innovators with limited funding to do world-changing research while also giving them access to more resources and funding. For many budding biotech and pharma start-ups, choosing a co-working lab rather than setting one up from scratch makes sense, not just from a financial perspective but for meeting research goals as well.