How can Life Sciences companies innovate without the perfect environment in which to do it?
Life Sciences pioneers depend on perfect chemistry - Between what they do, and where they do it. Channelling valuable funds into the wrong building, at the wrong time, in the wrong way, can be an interruption to the pace of progress.
Here we explore what makes the perfect partnership between premises and promise, facilities and limitless possibilities, and defining the operational environment so essential to an organisation and its future success.
As operations scale up, and as funding becomes available, it may not seem that it is possible for so many ‘wrongs’ to converge at the same time. Yet they can. They often do. Every effort can be made to select the right building - Whether to buy or to lease - In the right place, with facilities and support as closely aligned as possible to the needs of a life sciences operation. Yet many organisations still end up having to accept half measures.
The intention of the funding secured by a life sciences organisation is to optimise the core value of the advances they’re making, or intend to make, in fields of expertise driven by a commitment to helping solve global problems. This is why people invest. This is the focus of the business. This is where investment should pay dividends.
Few life sciences organisations are so intensely resourced that they retain people who are experienced in property development and management, and the complex array of support services needed to allow pursuit of goals and a vision unencumbered by property and facilities management concerns. They have little choice other than to become just another customer of a real estate operator. They have to trust the operator to get everything right. In this case, though, the converse is also true - Even though operators and agents may make every effort to achieve understanding, they are not life sciences people.
The fundamental premise of premises
For a life sciences organisation to ensure that premises add value to the operation is a big ask - Both of the company’s own team and resources, and of any potential landlord. This is no fault of landlords. Their business is renting property and making a profit from doing so. They seek scale of operations in their business model, attracting the largest number of quality tenants with the minimum outlay, and then optimising revenues from those tenants in servicing the property. In essence, your work in the Life Sciences sector is your business, not theirs.
Park Life - The ‘science park’ malaise
The VERB team spoke with a life sciences company, specifically about its experience of occupying an aspirationally life sciences-appropriate facility in a ‘purpose-built’ science park. The company had found that, beyond the label of ‘science park’, there was very little that aligned the location, buildings, infrastructure, or services to much that could be considered as designed to meet their needs.
It may appear that nothing could be finer for a life sciences company than setting up shop in a science park. Here are other like-minded organisations, the daily frisson of discovery and innovation in the air, the community of kindred spirits.
Yet, when the wind blows across the expansive car-parks, the cold reality of such locations is that they often tend to be no more inspiring than out-of-town industrial zones.
Adverse factors in a ‘ready-made’ facility
The list of negatives cited by those we interviewed are worth any company paying heed to:
Currently locked into lease agreements for its current location, the company now believes that locations in or near a city centre are more attractive to potential new staff. People prefer to be close to real-life rather than set out on a limb in what can be considered a relatively ‘sterile’ environment (and not in a good way).
Standard lab specs
Laboratories are built and set up in line with the broadest possible usage requirements, to attract the widest possible tenant interest. In life sciences, one size only very occasionally suits all. Put simply, the labs were not closely aligned with the day-to-day operations of the customer - Necessitating costly customisations.
Limited scope for expansion
The science park was there long before the tenant. Right next door, or across the way, are other tenants. Room for growth is restricted. This sows the seeds for relocation problems to emerge, probably when they will be least convenient (if such things ever are).
Lack of ownership
The company cannot ‘own’ its environment in the sense that many facilities (such as reception areas and the all-important first impression) are shared.
The perfect partnership between premises and promise
Rather than rely on good fortune or serendipity to bring precisely the property you would specify in an ideal world, you can take control of your destiny. It may be time to consider building your own facility, your way, for your future success.
VERB’s approach is to take on the role as investor and developer for your build, and landlord of your eventual facility, engaging with your business from day one to explore your needs and how the facility will be used. We can also run the operations of the building on our customers’ behalf, if required.
The outcome is as individual as if you had the time and capacity to build it yourself, to your exact specifications/requirements. The only difference is that VERB takes care of the process, the risks and the financing, allowing you to remain focused on discovery, innovation, production, and helping make the world a better place.
The VERB team has extensive life science expertise in delivering purpose-built facilities and co-located buildings in scientific clusters across the life science supply chain. Our role is to make better places for our customers’ businesses. We work with you to identify what ‘fit for purpose’ will really mean from the perspective of successful operations, and how that fitness will adapt and grow, scale and align - Two, three, five years out. And beyond.
We build what our customers want, and need to see built. We organise the finances to enable customers to run the costs involved as OpEx, rather than Capex. When a company moves in, we run the building on its behalf and, don’t forget, we understand how a building needs to be run in life sciences scenarios. Our facilities management services do more than just the basics, they focus on the essentials such as purified water flow, chemicals management (in/out/waste), health and safety issues. We don’t reduce your risk on the property front - We remove it completely.
VERB enables life sciences companies to occupy the building they want, with the facilities they need, occupied under transparent lease terms which are structured for easy assimilation into your wider finances.
In the future, when the time is right for a customer to leave the building, we assume full ownership. For all the years in between, we will have been partners, making our customers’ lives easier, their operations smoother, and their teams happier.
This is what perfect partnership is all about; premises that enrich your culture and help you achieve your promise. And connecting the two are people - Both yours and ours - Understanding, cooperating, and facilitating.
Deciding on the right property for a life sciences operation is almost certainly never a simple decision. If it is, the inherent implication is that it will only ever be temporary. A step along the way.
How much more reliable, sustainable, and cost-effective it is to adopt a future view, and to control your own destiny. To work within a building that complements your exploits, enriches your company culture, and manifests solidity. To create confidence and potential in the eyes of your investors, other stakeholders, and the global Life Sciences community. To avoid distractions that can expand into disruptions.
The VERB proposition is unique within the real estate sector. Through our parent company, VERB finances the property and fit out right up until the facility is officially up and running, removing the stress and headache of managing finances while construction is taking place. There’s no up-front payment. Until your business occupies the facility you pay nothing and, when you do, the on-going payments can be an operational expenditure - Following a leasing model - Rather than a capital expenditure.
Free and impartial consultation
We hope this article has given you food for thought regarding your property choices. If you’d like to explore your strategic considerations, and discover how to make best use of your funding - Dedicating it to the research and endeavour your business was set up to achieve, rather than diverting vast swathes of it to expenditure on property - Speak with us to find out more - firstname.lastname@example.org