Natick, MA – On Nov. 14, ground will be broken for ABI-LAB2, a $20 million, 68,000sf bio-incubator with the capacity to house 45 biotech startups located at 22 Strathmore Road in Natick. The four-story structure will contain build-to-suit dedicated laboratories ranging from 800sf to 2,000sf with additional social spaces. Financing is provided by East Boston Savings Bank with an opening date of January 2020.
ABI-LAB, whose mission as an affordable accelerator and bio-incubator is to support fledging companies, takes a holistic view of the opportune life sciences market. With the first 17,000sf ABI-LAB built in 2016 at waiting list capacity, founders Raphael Nir and Gary Kaufman have identified a formula for success. Understanding that a properly configured facility with individual work stations, communal spaces, and access to high technology equipment is integral to a well-planned startup strategy, their goal is to create flexible work environments.
“The start-up mindset is about exploration, experimentation, rapid learnings and failures. This project isn’t about creating a building. It is centered on the process — about fueling the genesis for productive growth,” cites Gary Kaufman, managing partner. ABI-LAB isn’t about leasing space. It is about fostering incipiency through amenities and architectural design that offer cryo storage, cell culture development, hazardous material storage, chemical hoods, and social spaces.
“Our roots in biotech facility development began with Karyopharm Therapeutics, whose founder sought expertise in rapid-scale facility design while they worked on an oral-based drug targeting multiple myeloma. Creating environments that foster start-ups’ developmental approaches eliminates wasted time so that they can focus on research and funding,” adds partner Dr. Raphael Nir. The partnership approach paid off — Karyopharm is currently worth $700 million. Since that time, Kaufman and Nir have helped more than 25 start-ups across the biomedical sector.
David Cohen Pratt of HC Atlantic Development is a joint owner who shares Kaufman and Nir’s vision. “We are committed to growing the Natick and MetroWest life science community around Sherwood Plaza. Start-ups will leverage our core laboratory infrastructure and expertise, leading to innovation and commercial success for their companies and employees. Our shared vision includes a neighborhood of life science companies coming to Natick as an economically attractive alternative to Cambridge and Boston with a critical mass of like-minded companies.”
Dacon Corporation was selected for the design and construction of ABI-LAB2 due to the inherent time- and cost-savings approach of the design-build method. The design needs of incubator structures are unique.
“Architecture for rapidly scaling businesses needs to have flexibility, not just for communal spaces but individual work stations as well. For instance, ABI-LAB2 will have large utility plenums between floors and easy access to common vertical utility shafts. These are designed to accommodate labs with growing HVAC and equipment requirements,” says Dennis McCarthy, VP design and architecture for Dacon.
In lieu of standard memorabilia given during groundbreakings, Dacon, ABI-LAB, and HC Atlantic Development have awarded a $2,000 scholarship for students enrolled at Framingham State University seeking life science careers.
“We wanted to support the sector’s need for qualified talent. The essential level starts with education,” continues McCarthy. “Framingham State University has a science curriculum specifically tailored to meet this demand. Collaborating on solutions for fulfilling design and fulfilling talent demand is a rewarding experience.”
Adds Dr. Margaret Carroll, dean of FSU’s STEM curriculum, “We are delighted to receive these funds, which will assist two students with their university expenditures. With multiple programs — BS degrees in biology and biochemistry as well as a PSM degree in biotechnology and an MBA in biotechnology operations — we see continued student enrollment and talent demand. The ABI-LAB Fellows Grant will aid two rising star students with their academic expenses. Given MetroWest’s life sciences ecosystem expansion, the need to develop and retain talent will continue indefinitely. This ground breaking not only changes the business atmosphere but students’ lives as well.”
Submitted by Dacon Corporation