A recently vacated building in Stanford Research Park will be the future home of a new life sciences incubator and lab suites. Located near campus, this incubator will serve as an anchor for a preeminent life sciences district.
By Amy Adams
To bolster the long-term vision of a thriving bioscience community near its campus, Stanford University is working to shape part of Stanford Research Park into a leading life science district focused on fast-growing sectors such as bioengineering, gene therapies, diagnostics, medical technology and devices, surgical robotics and digital health. As a key component of this effort, Stanford is collaborating with Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. to convert an existing 92,000 square foot facility at 3160 Porter Drive into a life sciences incubator – Alexandria LaunchLabs® at Stanford Research Park – and small lab suites.
When the building was recently vacated, Stanford saw an opportunity to create a flexible and vibrant space that would enhance the connections between the existing life science ecosystem of medical facilities, researchers and companies in the surrounding area, while also encouraging progress toward an even more diverse life science community. The university held a competition for firms that specialize in this work and chose Alexandria, an experienced developer and operator of successful life science communities near academic campuses.
“Stanford has a legacy of translating life science research discoveries into cures, but the opportunities in this field are greater than ever before. We want to take advantage of this current momentum and further accelerate solutions,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “This new incubator will support entrepreneurs in the development of new therapies and cures for critical diseases and create a community for life sciences entrepreneurship and innovation. We were delighted to enlist Alexandria, which has a strong history of not only building lab space but stimulating discovery and collaboration through their unique approach to creating life science ecosystems.”
The university envisions the incubator as the anchor of an 85-acre life science district, within the existing Stanford Research Park, that will become a new center of gravity for life science innovation in the Bay Area – a community for scientists and entrepreneurs who desire to collaborate, discover and invent pioneering medicines, therapies, devices and technologies to help humankind.
Positioned roughly a mile from campus and in close proximity to Stanford’s adult and children’s hospitals, the VA hospital, and Stanford University School of Medicine, as well as Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Varian Medical Systems, Kodiak Sciences, the Canary Foundation and other biotech firms, Alexandria LaunchLabs at Stanford Research Park will catalyze emerging life science research. It also aligns with the goals of the Innovative Medicines Accelerator – an initiative that arose out of Stanford’s long-range planning process, which aims to help basic and applied researchers from across the schools of Medicine, Engineering and Humanities & Sciences translate their research discoveries into new therapies and diagnostics.
“This space will be key to our shared vision of ensuring Stanford discoveries continue to benefit the world,” said Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, the Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research and chair of the Department of Radiology. “Together with the Innovative Medicines Accelerator, the hope is the incubator can do even more to initiate commercialization of novel therapies for the greater good of humanity.”
Having an expanded life science-focused community close to campus will also complement existing efforts within the School of Medicine to translate basic science discoveries into new therapies.
“The breadth and depth of innovative research emerging from Stanford Medicine is astonishing,” said Lloyd Minor, dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine. “The incubator will provide our researchers with resources and access to experts to streamline and speed the translation of groundbreaking discoveries. Additionally, its close proximity to Stanford’s School of Medicine, two world-class hospitals and the VA will help to realize the promise of bench-to-bedside research.”
As new technologies, devices, treatments and therapies move from ideas to labs to applications in the real world, it is important to have spaces that can adapt to support this development – and early-stage life science solutions have diverse needs. Such flexible spaces can be challenging to find in the Bay Area and companies often end up renting space that is longer-term than what they require. Spots close to the Stanford campus, and the venture capital groups nearby, are especially rare.
“Biotech entrepreneurs often need to commit to multi-year leases, large footprints and expensive lab build-outs when they aren’t even sure they have a viable product yet,” said Jennifer Cochran, the Shriram chair of bioengineering at Stanford. “This flexibility and proximity to campus will greatly benefit Stanford faculty and other entrepreneurs, and provide them with a supportive community and shared resources to facilitate their new ventures.”
Bridging academia and industry
Since its origin in the 1950s, Stanford Research Park has drawn pioneering researchers and industry leaders, in part, due to the potential for collaboration with the university nearby. The 700-acre research park is home to about 150 diverse companies focused on scientific discovery, technological innovation and commercialization of groundbreaking research. It also includes existing biotechnology companies and School of Medicine lab space focused on precision medicine.
Under this new agreement, Stanford has sold a 51-year ground lease for 3160 Porter Drive to Alexandria. Building upon the success of Alexandria’s unique space offerings for life science companies near academic campuses, the company will bring its Alexandria LaunchLabs platform to Stanford Research Park to create an environment that stimulates discovery. Alexandria LaunchLabs at Stanford Research Park will provide flexible, move-in-ready lab and office space, as well as strategic programming and access to seed capital. The facility will also offer lab suites for maturing companies.
“As a University-affiliated research park, we recognize we have a unique mission – to bridge academia and industry in an effort to launch solutions that will have an enduring positive impact in our community and world,” said Tiffany Griego, managing director of asset management for the Stanford Research Park. “Stanford Research Park and Palo Alto have always been at the forefront of new technological and scientific discoveries and inventions. With a renewed focus on drawing life science entrepreneurs to Stanford Research Park, we will support them in their pursuits to deliver therapies and solutions to the public health challenges of the 21st century.”
Griego said Alexandria LaunchLabs at Stanford Research Park is expected to open in Spring of 2021.