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5 Things You Need to Know About San Diego's Biotech Industry

From life science CEOs having lunch together to discuss office space to PhDs throwing tantrums about shrinking private offices, here are five things we learned at our San Diego Biotech Real Estate event last week.

1. Biotech CEOs Talk Office Space


OncoSec CEO Punit Dhillon told our audience of more than 300 real estate pros he had lunch with Biocept CEO Michael Nall regarding the firm's latest office consolidation. “I actually had lunch with the CEO well before I signed off on the lease with Alexandria,” Punit says. That was to gauge Michael's sense on the community and growth potential there. Recently OncoSec secured a 35k SF lease at 5820 Nancy Ridge Dr, consolidating two separate labs and its West Coast operations into a single location. Now the firm is next door neighbors to Biocept. 

2. Life Sciences Clustering Is Strong


DGA Architect's Nancy Escano (on right with Unisource Solutions' Anne Benge) says companies like Scripps and the biotech focus at UCSD and USD will keep San Diego hot on biotech. “People are interested in being around those hubs of education," she says. "Everybody wants to be next to those. There are partnerships, there are alliances. That is the center of the universe for life sciences.”


DPR Construction's Brian Gracz sees even going to Downtown San Diego as a stretch for the life science industry. “It just doesn't seem practical. We don't have [the education hub] in the city center of San Diego right now,” he says. “Could it happen? Possibly. But it's going to take somebody pretty big to go in and drop anchor before it starts to attract more and more of a community.”

3. Office Space Has Emotional Connection


Nancy says private offices are the last bastion of old school space planning that is hard to get rid of. That's because many of the PhDs who come from academia to work at life science companies are used to having private offices. It's often a status symbol. “Their office is their most emotional part of the space. I've seen people cry at meetings because they're losing their office space. I've seen people throw a tantrum. Nobody ever does that when you're designing a laboratory. Even if you're going to cut space,” she says. 

4. Is Life Science Industry Getting Frothy?


Alexandria Real Estate Equities Dan Ryan (far right with Nuintu's Chris Frace and Avison Young's Jerry Keeney) sees the industry getting a little bit ahead of itself, especially as companies get an influx of capital from going public. At least in the short-term. Describing the industry as “frothy,” Dan says Alexandria is “focusing a lot on credit." He says the developer even has five PhDs who help analyze potential customers: "Not only to make the real estate right, but to make the correct credit decision.”

5. Iron Man Works For Bisnow


Our own Sean Spear just completed an Iron Man Triathlon last week, swimming 2.4 miles, biking for 112 miles and then running a full marathon. That's still easier than his job description. “I tore my hamstring on mile 18 of the run, and pushed through the last eight miles,” Sean tells us. But he's “stoked” to have completed the test of personal endurance.