From Emerging To Burgeoning: BioLabs Opening Expected To Catalyze Life Sciences Industry In North Texas
BioLabs has brought its lab coworking model to North Texas, a move that is expected to kick-start the region’s life sciences industry.
The facility comprises 37K SF of shared lab and office space at Pegasus Park, a 23-acre biotech development in Dallas. Scientists and entrepreneurs at BioLabs have access to more than $3M in shared equipment, affordable lab space, programming and networking.
“We want to reduce friction and increase collisions,” BioLabs CEO Johannes Fruehauf said at a March 23 ribbon-cutting event. “We reduce friction by building optimized spaces. At the same time, we want [entrepreneurs and scientists] to have an opportunity to meet each other, investors, partners, new employees, etc. In this facility, we expect to help hundreds of entrepreneurs and scientists build their ideas and their products.”
BioLabs was founded a decade ago in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and has since opened locations along the East Coast. The Dallas space is the company’s first non-coastal location. BioLabs came to North Texas because of the pipeline of trained workers coming out of the region’s numerous research universities. The company is able to provide space for students to grow into after they graduate, Site Director Gabby Everett said.
“Previously, companies that were spinning out of UT Southwestern or any of the major universities had to decide what's next for them … they had to go someplace else,” Everett said. “They had to go to the coasts, they had to go to Boston, they had to go to San Francisco. Now they can come to their own backyard.”
The BioLabs model reduces the barrier to entry because it allows scientists to access the space and equipment they need at a manageable cost. Companies renew their lease on a month-to-month basis, but the average stay is about 18 months. BioLabs does not take any equity in the companies that lease space in the facility, Everett said.
JLL ranked DFW as a top emerging market for life sciences in 2021; however, the Metroplex still has a ways to go before it can be counted among the Bostons, San Franciscos and San Diegos of the world. The opening of BioLabs in Dallas is a critical first step in making the transition from emerging to burgeoning, Nicole Small, CEO and president of Lyda Hill Philanthropies, said at the event. Lyda Hill is one of the co-developers of Pegasus Park.
“We’re here today because we are a great city,” she said. “We have great scientists, we have great entrepreneurs, and we continue to have some big problems in this world that are only going to be solved by science. In Dallas, in North Texas, we have a can-do attitude. It’s great to dream these things, but it’s really important to do these things.”
The goal for Pegasus Park is to become a hub for life sciences in North Texas, said Tom Luce, CEO of Biotech Initiatives at Lyda Hill Philanthropies.
“When we think about how to support life science innovations, we have found that entrepreneurs … need intellectual capital surrounding them, venture capital and a workforce that will enable them to grow,” he said. “We are working on all aspects of that ecosystem, and we hope this building will be a catalyst for what happens outside of the building.”
U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, who represents Texas’ 30th congressional district, said the House of Representatives has doubled down on its commitment to research by passing a $300B research bill to advance efforts like those unfolding at Pegasus Park.
“You can’t accomplish anything without research,” Johnson said. “And within that bill we are decentralizing Silicon Valley, because we know for sure that we’ve got a Silicon Valley right here in Dallas.”
The Dallas BioLabs location can accommodate 30-35 companies and includes 29 private offices, 90 open benches, six private labs, 11 conference rooms and more than 100 desks. Sixty percent of the facility is made up of lab space, Everett said. As of now, 35% of the space is leased.