Thursday, June 6, 2019

Discovery Labs Proposes $500M Co-Working Project for Healthcare, Life Science, Tech Sectors

by John Jordan
Discovery Labs announced today at the Bio 2019 conference here it will embark on a $500-million project that will be part of an even larger initiative intended to create the largest co-working ecosystem for healthcare, life sciences and technology-enabled companies in the nation.
The King of Prussia-based firm, a platform company formed by Radnor, PA-based MLP Ventures, stated at the conference at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia today that it intends to redevelop GlaxoSmithKline’s 1-million square foot Upper Merion West Campus and the 640,000 Innovation at Renaissance Campus in King of Prussia into co-working facilities for the for healthcare, life sciences and technology sectors.

This first Discovery Labs in King of Prussia are the prototype for a global rollout of The Discovery Labs, the company states. In addition to the Pennsylvania properties, Discovery Labs is targeting major markets across the US and also has several international locations in its plans as well. Target domestic markets include: Boston; New York City; Northern New Jersey; Washington, DC; Raleigh-Durham, NC; Chicago, Houston, Austin, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. The company also has targeted London and Dublin as international locations it hopes to enter sometime in the future.
The $500-million investment is targeted for the two King of Prussia properties only. Discovery Labs did not release the projected cost for its expansion to other domestic and international markets.

“The Discovery Labs is 20 times larger than the average co-working space, such as WeWork, and provides the mission critical infrastructure needed to operate healthcare, life sciences and technology-enabled companies. The size of each Discovery Labs enables enterprise level companies to work side by side with startup and emerging companies and enjoy the benefits of the co-working phenomenon,” says Audrey Greenberg, chief financial officer, The Discovery Labs. “It is the first of a network of massive co-working properties which will encourage powerful, collaborative innovation on an international scale.”

A spokesman for Discovery Labs said the firm currently owns both the Innovation at Renaissance Campus and the GlaxoSmithKline Upper West Merion Campus.
GlaxoSmithKline currently leases 87,260 square feet at the primary building at the Upper Merion West Campus. Tenants at the Innovation at Renaissance Campus include the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Thomas Jefferson University, Tosoh Biosciences, Crown Castle and MedRisk.

“The Discovery Labs brings together healthcare, life sciences and technology-enabled companies that rely heavily on enterprise-level infrastructure and who want to occupy space specifically designed for a modern, tech-enabled workforce with all the amenities necessary to hire top talent,” says Richard Heany, president of The Discovery Labs.

A major component of its King of Prussia co-working initiative is “IQ Connect,” The Discovery Labs incubator. The incubator, a partnership with The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center, is a 100,000-square-foot business incubator and laboratory that brings together researchers, entrepreneurs and product development startups, along with human resources, venture capital, investment banking and other business services to pursue discovery and development of transformative scientific, life sciences, tech-enabled industrial, venture and consumer products.

“The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center has a strong track record of growing successful new companies through our unique combination of resources and professional support. We are excited to expand our model to The Discovery Labs to build an environment that nurtures entrepreneurs and brings new discoveries to market,” says Lou Kassa, SVP and COO of The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center.

Originally designed for large-scale pharmaceutical R&D, the Discovery Labs co-working campus leverages the properties’ tall ceilings, extensive infrastructure and in-place laboratories to create workspace that fosters creativity while leveraging technology, the company notes.

Philadelphia is recognized as one of the fastest-growing biotech hubs in the world and is known as the “Cellicon Valley” for its leadership in research and development of gene and cell therapy.  Philadelphia ranked fourth for medical research and health services on a list of the country’s top biotech clusters.

Christopher Molineaux, CEO of Life Sciences Pennsylvania, says there is a growing need for co-working space in the life sciences sector.  ”There’s a surge of life science startups in Pennsylvania, with more than half of these companies staffing fewer than 10 employees,” he says. “The co-working lab facilities of Discovery Labs can help support the growth of small business with billions of dollars of infrastructure, so they can spend capital on development of new technologies and lifesaving and life enhancing products, making lab space affordable to startups of any size. This is exactly the type of facility that can help our entrepreneurs thrive on each other’s energy, wisdom and innovation.”

Design features at the King of Prussia properties include ceiling heights of 16 feet and 20-foot-tall penthouse spaces and glass walkways that connect 12 buildings ranging from 50,000 square feet to 125,000 square feet. Outdoor spaces and indoor/outdoor atriums provide workers the ability to access fresh air for creative thinking and improved concentration.

The live/work/play environment of The Discovery Labs offers vast open spaces to cultivate a sense of community, featuring coffee shops, a $10-million conference center, video conferencing, a 275-seat auditorium and adjoining, meeting and education rooms. The Discovery Lab’s design also includes a 14,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art fitness center with cardio and weight training equipment, yoga and Pilates classes, as well as outdoor options including tennis, basketball, and more than two miles of walking paths. Other amenities include an outdoor amphitheater, high-end on-site restaurants and complimentary shuttle transportation to train lines.

Discovery Labs states it is experiencing strong interest with 3 million square feet of space currently in the proposal stage with prospective tenants touring the campus daily.

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