Stanford University: Biotechnology incubator in Stanford Research Park anchors growing life sciences district

Stanford took a significant step toward growing a vibrant biotechnology hub close to campus with the opening of a new incubator space in Stanford Research Park. The incubator, known as Alexandria LaunchLabs – Stanford Research Park, is located within the Alexandria Center for Life Science, a fully remodeled 92,000-square-foot facility at 3160 Porter Drive. The facility is managed by Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., an experienced and leading owner, operator, and developer of successful life science ecosystems and clusters near academic campuses.

Alexandria LaunchLabs – Stanford Research Park, will 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 close to the Stanford campus.

“Stanford has a legacy of translating scientific research discoveries into treatments and cures for patients, and Alexandria LaunchLabs is playing a vital role in supporting early-stage entrepreneurial scientists focused on improving human health,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. “Alexandria’s unique track record not only in building lab space but also in creating and activating life science ecosystems, as well as fostering collaboration between academia and industry, is key for addressing patient needs.”

The new incubator catalyzes emerging life science research through flexible, move-in-ready lab and office space, as well as strategic programming and access to seed capital. The facility also offers lab suites for maturing companies. As the biotech campus continues to grow, companies that expand beyond the LaunchLabs capacity will have opportunities to rent larger spaces nearby while remaining close to campus, augmenting life sciences companies and facilities that are already located in the Research Park.

“Stanford is synonymous with innovation,” said Lloyd Minor, dean of the School of Medicine. “Adding Alexandria LaunchLabs to Stanford Research Park promises to speed translation of the transformative research emerging here and furthers our mission of bringing the benefits of discovery to the world.”

At an opening celebration for the incubator held June 13, Tessier-Lavigne said that advancing medicines requires an ecosystem of academia, industry, non-profits, and regulatory agencies working together.

“If we really want to drive advances in biomedicine we need every part of the ecosystem to work together,” Tessier-Lavigne said. Developing a biotech hub next to the university is one step toward creating an ecosystem that can benefit all faculty who want to apply their discoveries to medical advances.

History of innovation
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 located about a mile away. The 700-acre research park is home to about 150 diverse companies focused on scientific discovery, technological innovation, and commercialization of groundbreaking research.

The envisioned 85-acre biotech hub anchored by Alexandria LaunchLabs is positioned within close proximity to Stanford’s adult and children’s hospitals, the VA hospital, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, and Stanford University schools of Medicine, Humanities & Sciences, and Engineering, as well as biotech firms and non-profit medical organizations also located in the Research Park.

Jennifer Cochran, professor of bioengineering, rents lab space in the LaunchLabs for her early-stage biotech company. She said without this option she would have needed to establish an entire laboratory space – including purchasing expensive equipment – before she had proof of concept that her technology could go the distance.

“For faculty and students who are transitioning a potential technology out of the university, the flexible model and proximity to campus are extremely critical,” Cochran said. She initially procured a desk and a small amount of lab space with access to shared equipment and facilities, but if her company grows she could have an opportunity to move into larger spaces within the building. As the company’s needs change, she can access additional equipment or resources.

Cochran, whose roots are in fundamental science, said she hadn’t originally expected to be involved in biotechnology entrepreneurship, but after licensing a few inventions to others she decided to walk the talk and a few years ago founded her own companies.

“It takes venture capital, pharmaceutical companies, and regulatory agencies working together as an ecosystem to further develop these technologies, and I’ve been a fortunate beneficiary of that,” she said. Cochran has since taken some of her learnings back to Stanford where she is helping other faculty and students position their work for future translation.

Accelerating solutions
Creating a biotech hub near campus furthers the university’s vision of accelerating the application of discoveries made by Stanford researchers. The Innovative Medicines Accelerator (IMA), which arose out of Stanford’s long-range planning process, has space in the building where their staff helps basic and applied researchers from across the schools of Medicine, Engineering, and Humanities & Sciences prototype new medicines.

“Having this flexible space to facilitate that translation of Stanford’s scientific discoveries into new medicines is central to our mission,” said Chaitan Khosla, professor of chemistry and of chemical engineering and the Marc and Jennifer Lipschultz Director of the IMA. “The opening of LaunchLabs creates an inflection point in what Stanford Research Park will look like in 10 years.”

In addition to the IMA, Tessier-Lavigne applauded non-profit efforts to knit together research at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco, as part of a local community. “With this new incubator space and an expanded biotech community, faculty can apply their discoveries in the context of a vibrant local ecosystem,” he said.

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