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MassBio Head Stepping Down To Head JLL's Boston Life Sciences Group

Robert Coughlin, the former Massachusetts Biotechnology Council trade association chief, is headed to JLL.

JLL is adding a venerated life sciences leader to its brokerage team, bolstering its team to address the booming lab market.

Robert Coughlin, the longtime president and CEO of the nonprofit Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, will join JLL early next year as managing director of the firm’s life sciences industry practice, navigating arguably the industry’s hottest real estate.

“Biotechs need a strong partner who can help them identify opportunities to optimize their portfolios, whether it’s through site selection, tax incentives or operational efficiencies,” Coughlin said in a statement. "I’m eager to help them improve their real estate assets so they can focus on research, development and solving unmet medical needs for patients.”

Coughlin helmed MassBio for 13 years, where he led a rise in membership from 400 to 1,400 companies and oversaw the creation of $1.5B in savings for members through the MBC’s purchasing program, he wrote in an open letter posted Monday announcing his resignation. More than 16.5M SF of commercial lab space has been built in the past 10 years in Massachusetts and 38,000 jobs have been created, Coughlin wrote.

Life sciences has thrived amid the coronavirus pandemic while office and retail have struggled, and the Boston market is airtight, with vacancy near zero in the Kendall Square epicenter. Fewer than a dozen existing products exist for life sciences tenants to move into, and nearly a third of projects expected to deliver in 2022 are already leased, a JLL executive said last month.

“As funding continues to fuel demand across Greater Boston, our clients couldn’t be getting a better partner than Bob to help them navigate the increasingly competitive life sciences real estate landscape,” JLL New England Market Managing Director Jim Tierney said in a statement.

Coughlin, a former three-term state representative for the 11th Norfolk District south of Boston, also served in the U.S. Naval Reserve and as Gov. Deval Patrick’s undersecretary of economic development.