When biotech companies start up, they face a big budget hurdle: Life science breakthroughs require lots of expensive lab equipment, a place to do experiments, and an office to meet with colleagues, collaborators, and investors. Today, meeting all those needs got easier with the opening of BioLabs—a new coworking laboratory and office facility in Dallas’ Biotech+ Hub at Pegasus Park.
The 37,000-square-foot facility offers shared wet labs and strikingly designed office spaces, all located within the 23-acre reimagined Pegasus Park campus—which has become a magnet for biotech and healthcare startups. BioLabs says its members will have access to an ecosystem promoting collaboration of the life sciences throughout North Texas.
Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting opening featured BioLabs leadership and some of their biotech startup members, along with city leaders, investors, and biotech community stakeholders.
The new facility—located in Dallas’ rapidly expanding Innovation District between the Dallas Design District and the Southwestern Medical District—is Boston-based BioLabs’ first location in the central U.S. The company calls itself “the definitive growth partner for science-based entrepreneurs,” empowering them “to accelerate their science, grow their business, and have a lasting impact on the world.”
Biolabs adds to North Texas’ growing status as a biotech hub
The BioLabs opening is only the latest sign of the region’s growing status as a biotech hub. Just last week, Dallas Innovates published two stories on the subject: one on how collaboration is the key to North Texas’ emergence as a bio-hub, and the other on DFW Airport being one of just two airports in North America to have a CEIV Pharma certified community. The designation puts DFW and its supply chain stakeholders in a top tier for the safe handling of pharmaceuticals and other highly sensitive materials.
Six private labs, 90 open benches, and high-tech equipment
With space to hold up to 35 life science startups, BioLabs offers “state-of-the-art” flexible lab, training, and office space. Its stated goal is to serve as “the epicenter for life science innovation” in North Texas, and to empower biotech trailblazers “in their pursuit of the next big scientific breakthrough.”
To do that, BioLabs is offering a host of walk-in-ready features. The new facility features six private biosafety Level 2 labs, 90 open benches, and four tissue culture suites with biosafety cabinets and CO2 incubators.
BioLabs also offers a microbiology suite with biosafety cabinets and shakers, a microscopy room with fluorescence and phase-contrast microscopy, and a bioengineering suite with a 3D printer and a snorkel-enhanced soldering station.
A lengthy list of other lab equipment includes cold storage, incubators, plate readers, pH meters, scales, centrifuges, gel boxes, power supplies, imagers, vortexes, pipette sets, scales, autoclave, and more.
Colossal Biosciences and ReCode Therapeutics already set up shop
Prominent biotech startups are already claiming their spaces at the new BioLabs facility, including Colossal Biosciences, which aims to bring back the woolly mammoth via a mammoth-elephant hybrid, and ReCode Therapeutics, a biopharma startup that’s working to expand the drug pipeline for respiratory diseases.
Welcoming companies to the facility is native Texan Gabby Everett, Ph.D., who’s been appointed site director. Everett previously worked as lead scientist in the biotech group of NCH Corporation, where she was responsible for commercial product development, cross-functional team leadership, and served as co-director of NCH Grow, a professional development program for women.
Everett, who has six patents (with another eight or so in the pipeline), calls BioLabs a dream job. “If you take the Venn diagram of science, communication, and service…BioLabs is right in the middle.”
BioLab’s company’s executives and local team are all scientists who understand the needs of those they serve, she says.
“The great thing about BioLabs is that we’re all scientists,” Everett said. “We’re entrepreneurs ourselves. We’ve all had been down in the dumps when a proof of concept experiment crashes and burns. And we’ve had the thrill of having a patent. So we’ve been through most of the cases that our scientists have been through and know how to support them—as well as what connections we can help them with.”
How it works
Biotech startups need more than a lab bench, says Everett. At BioLabs, startups can start with a single bench and a single workstation and have access to the suite of equipment “for less than the cost of renting a house in Dallas.”
The beauty of Bio Labs is that the model really scales, she says. “As these companies do more research, they gain more funding.”
Beyond support for scaling, Biolabs’ terms are also flexible, Everett told us. Startups can renew every 30 days with no long-term commitment on either side. For example, some companies could book for six months to work on proof of concept research.
“They can come in for six months and do what they need to do,” she said. “On average, most companies are with Bio Labs for about 18 months before ‘graduating,’ which is moving out of Bio Labs either into bigger space or being acquired.
‘This is a scientist’s playground’
“This is a scientist’s playground,” Everett said. “If you can imagine it, and if you can do it in science, you can do it here.”
Overall, BioLabs Pegasus Park offers capabilities for all kinds of science from molecular engineering to chemistry work. For specialized needs, BioLabs has a memorandum of understanding with UT Southwestern and UT Arlington for its coworking scientists to be able to use those core facilities, Everett says.
60% of BioLabs’ 37,000 square feet at Pegasus Park is devoted to lab space, which is currently 35% occupied. Everett expects that number to double in the next six months.
Science on display
Science is on full display from the minute you enter the space at BioLabs.
“As soon as you walk into the building, the first thing that you see is all of this fantastic equipment with scientists at work,” Everett said during a tour of the glass-walled space. One conference room she calls “the fishbowl” even shares one of those walls.
Everett expects it to be in high demand: “I imagine this being a very popular show,” she said.
The design of the space also serves to foster communication and mingling. “You could have a company that wrapped up tens of millions of dollars in Series B funding next to a company that’s a brand new startup, she says. “That kind of cross-pollination … can be an absolute force multiplier for biotech in the region.”
Looking ahead, the site director sees regular happy hours and networking events. “We’re going to bring in experts from regulatory IP companies to those that help with branding, for example, as resources for our scientists.”
Advancing Pegasus Park’s mission
The opening of BioLabs promises to be a significant advance in the mission of the Biotech+ Hub at Pegasus Park. Developed by J. Small Investments and Montgomery Street Partners, in partnership with Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Pegasus Park is a 750,000 square-foot mixed-use lab and office campus that now includes BioLabs’ shared wet labs and office space.
The Biotech+ Hub at Pegasus Park continues to welcome “all sources of life sciences and healthcare innovation to prevent, detect, and treat diseases and promote health and wellbeing.”
The campus also houses the Convene conference center, a social impact hub called Water Cooler at Pegasus Park, commercial tenants, and several entertainment and dining venues.
In just the last few months, Pegasus Park attracted a relocation by Health Wildcatters, a top-ranked Dallas healthcare seed accelerator, and leased 180,000 square feet of space in its main 18-story tower to UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Here are more looks at the new BioLabs at Pegasus Park:
The story was updated on March 23, 2022, at 3:15 p.m. with additional details from the BioLabs grand opening event.
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