Hughes Marino co-founder David Marino says Boston, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego are the big five biotech markets. However, additional cities could emerge as future biotech hot spots.
“Having done this for three decades, I’ve seen other fits and starts in other places,” says Marino. “Florida and Texas have tried. And you’ll get a handful of companies that go there, but they tend to be more medical device, materials, or diagnostics companies than true biotech,” Marino said.
That’s because the process is nuanced. The right players need to be in place, like a highly learned talent pool and the right amount of space to put that talent in.
“They’ll use government incentives, discounted land, or other financial inducements to try to get someone to come there,” he said of various companies’ efforts. “However, this is an industry that likes to cluster and collaborate, and that takes critical research institutes, educational institutions, and existing players to [cooperate with] in order to germinate and grow.”
Perhaps Nashville, Tennessee, will be next. Music City saw a boom of 35,000 life science-related jobs between 2015 and 2020. Fueled by educational powerhouses such as Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the National Institutes of Health, life science has been increasing funding in the region, with Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center reaching a $1 billion milestone in research funding this past April.
“Vanderbilt researchers are among the most accomplished in the world, contributing in significant ways to solving the most complex scientific and medical challenges of today while also charting important new pathways of discovery for tomorrow,” Daniel Diermeier, chancellor of Vanderbilt University, says on the school’s website. “Reaching this funding benchmark affirms Vanderbilt’s place among the world’s foremost research institutions and inspires new levels of aspiration as we look ahead to the future.”
Boston could be another up-and-coming life science player. Boston Real Estate Times reported that Boston’s life science market topped 3 million square feet of leasing during Q2.
Globest.com said Boston is just getting started when it comes to ruling biotech, with an additional 23.8 million square feet of upcoming projects underway in the city famous for its baked beans and Fenway Park.
The city ranks sixth for life science educational attainment, thanks to its 840,000 residents over age 25 who hold at least a bachelor’s degree in science, engineering, or related fields.
Life Science Clusters Have Been Popping Up in Other Areas Across America
A 2022 Life Sciences Research Outlook Report by global commercial real estate services company JLL assessed metrics like funding and talent of potential future life science hot spots. It found that the greater Washington, D.C., area and Baltimore, Philadelphia, New Jersey, New York City, and Salt Lake City are heating up.
While many clusters have seen great successes in preleasing, available space has also jumped from over 10 million square feet to nearly 25 million square feet, according to JLL. The company reports that leases have been up since the spring of this year.
That’s music to Hughes Marino’s ears.
“Our firm has been representing life science tenants for our whole careers, for 30 years,” Marino says. “As we have grown, we think that’s a really important part of the economy and an important part of our practice. It’s a very specialized base of knowledge as well, as to what those companies and what that industry requires. It’s been a big focus of ours as we’ve expanded into, initially, San Francisco and then Seattle. We’re hiring some of the top office and industry professionals as well. They know what manufacturing and supply chain companies require and what corporate headquarters and traditional office tenants require.”
In keeping ahead of life science trends, Hughes Marino has positioned itself in the thick of it all. Apart from its headquarters in San Diego, Boston and Raleigh-Durham are the newest additions to its already flourishing fleet of offices throughout the United States.
“We’re truly a national company,” Marino says. “We have a footprint in multiple states with nine offices and more to come.”
San Diego Remains Life Science Hot Spot
In San Diego, Marino says biotechnology lab developers can’t build lab space fast enough.
“In the last three years, there’s been 5 million square feet of life science leases signed,” he says. “And so these folks can’t build it fast enough. Literally, they’re tearing down two- and three-story office buildings to build six-story lab buildings.”
Biotech company Excellos is coming to Genesis San Diego, which is a 203,000-square-foot, eight-story life science building. The transaction is downtown San Diego’s second-ever life science lab lease.
Global real estate magnate Oxford Properties Group recently announced on its website the purchase and long-term leaseback of Ionis Pharmaceuticals’ 18.4-acre life science campus and corporate headquarters, growing Oxford’s San Diego life science impression to 900,000 square feet across 16 buildings. The press release adds that San Diego has established itself as one of the most important life science markets globally, which is another reason Oxford invested in the area.
“Our purchase of the Ionis campus adds to Oxford’s significant presence in a top three global life science market that is characterized by high barriers to entry,” Tycho Suter, Oxford’s VP of investments, said in a press release. “We have long-term conviction in the San Diego life science market, which is supported by its strong [science, technology, engineering, and math] presence and a highly skilled labor force, as well as world-renowned research and academic institutions.”
Marino says he and the Hughes Marino team are excited for what’s to come for the life science sector. “It’s just going to be more of that [growth], and we have proven that we can scale our culture and technology.”
When it comes to securing life science space anywhere in the world, but especially in San Diego, Hughes Marino’s team says starting earlier is always better and it’s ideal to allow for at least six to 12 months before a life science company requires lab space occupancy. Tenant representation companies such as Hughes Marino specialize in making sure every detail is covered, especially when it comes to the complex task of procuring life science lab space.
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