Home Biological science Developing Dispersed Labs Shaping Chicago’s Life Sciences Market

Developing Dispersed Labs Shaping Chicago’s Life Sciences Market



Much of the recent growth has occurred near the city center, where Sterling Bay opened a large laboratory in Lincoln Yards in October and Northwestern University spin-off Vanqua Bio signed a lease for 25,000. square feet of research space in the Fulton Market District, a few blocks from where a new 425,000 square foot lab is slated to open early next year.

Yet there are also a lot of green shoots in the suburbs. In Skokie, Chicago-based Singerman Real Estate paid $ 75 million in October for the 286,000 square foot lab portion of the Illinois Science and Technology Park – almost the same price as the entire campus of 23 acres sold four years ago – and the immunotherapy company Last month, Court Pharmaceuticals more than doubled its campus footprint to 25,000 square feet. In Lake County, the historic home of the region’s pharmaceutical giants, Rosalind Franklin University last month landed $ 2 million from the state of Illinois to speed up construction of a science startup incubator. of living with lab space for professors and commercial tenants.

The scatter equates to a new real estate challenge facing the local life science industry: a geographically diverse setting and a lack of market coordination that could play a role in how quickly the Chicago star is rising in the eyes of the bioscience community. Industry experts say it could stifle progress in some ways as companies seek a larger campus with like-minded scientific peers, but it could also create a unique offering with multiple locations and price points from hire to serve a wide variety of researchers.

“In an ideal world, everything would be centralized. Everyone would be there, and you could evolve and grow and that would be the place to be, ”said David Saad, executive vice president of real estate giant CBRE, who has spent more than a decade negotiating. leases for life science companies in downtown and suburbs. “Unfortunately, that is not happening (that way) at the moment.”

Companies have historically flocked to clusters like Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass., And Research Triangle Park in central North Carolina due to proximity to everything they need to thrive: incubation space, labs. larger, access to universities and nearby hospital systems and amenities that help them recruit the best talent.

In the meantime, the research that spawned many Chicago-based life science companies has historically been done closer to Northwestern in Evanston, the University of Chicago in Hyde Park, and the hospital systems in the Medical District of Chicago. Illinois on the Near West Side of the city. But instead of building more lab space on or near these campuses, the developers have focused on creating what they hope will become the hub for local life science startups in places like Fulton Market or Lincoln. Yards.

One such effort is in Bronzeville, where a group led by Farpoint Development will innovate next summer on a 500,000 square foot building anchored in a medical research center affiliated with Israel’s Sheba Medical Center, the centerpiece of what could become a campus full of laboratories and research spaces on the former site of the Michael Reese hospital.

Farpoint CEO Scott Goodman argues his site has an advantage because it’s easily accessible from so many of the city’s major universities and hospitals, whose researchers tend to be territorial.

“Hospitals and universities are like dogs,” Goodman says. “We are trying to create the dog park so that they can play well together.”

Creating a central district where biotech and pharmaceutical companies wish to congregate would help Chicago compete with prominent life science markets, said Suzet McKinney, former CEO of the Illinois Medical District, who now heads the Sterling Bay’s breakthrough in the life sciences. She is focused on building such a campus at Lincoln Yards, but says the market needs all the development of lab space to be successful in creating an “ecosystem” that attracts start-up bioscience companies.

“Instead of looking at this from a competitive point of view, we really need to collaborate and we need strong city and state collaboration” to help inspire researchers to choose Chicago, McKinney said. .

Several small groups of lab spaces could also help Chicago differentiate itself from rival markets as “not a one-size-fits-all community,” said John Conrad, president and CEO of the Industry Business Group. ‘Illinois Biotechnology Innovation Organization.

“If you want to build in Boston, it’s Cambridge. And that means paying Cambridge prices,” he says. “Businesses are going to have different needs.

Xeris Pharmaceuticals CEO Paul Edick, whose injectable drug maker moved lab operations to Fulton Market from San Diego last year, downplays the importance of Chicago’s decentralized network of lab spaces – early researchers of Cambridge “felt like they were on an island for a while,” he says, but Chicago will only become a “vibrant life science city” if the region’s big pharmaceutical players like Abbott Laboratories, AbbVie and Baxter International in the northern suburbs are establishing a downtown presence among biotech startups, and vice versa.

“There are people in Chicago who like to come to the city and others who prefer (to work) in the suburbs,” he says. “You need both.”