- A former GlaxoSmithKline R&D site near Philadelphia is being redeveloped into a WeWork-styled campus for healthcare and life sciences firms, part of a plan to turn Pennsylvania into a more attractive research hub for the industry.
- The site was bought last year by MLP Ventures, then called O'Neill Properties, for a reported $50 million, and spans 1.6 million square feet. The bulk of that is in Upper Merion, where GSK has leased back space, while 640,000 square feet will be dedicated as a "coworking ecosystem."
- Efforts to establish new R&D centers outside of the industry's traditional hubs in the Bay Area near San Francisco and Cambridge, Massachusetts, have been mostly mixed. In its announcement, The Discovery Labs, a company formed by MLP that's redeveloping the site, touted the success of Spark Therapeutics, which spun out of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Discovery Labs hopes the Upper Merion site, located about 15 miles west of Philadelphia proper, can attract smaller life sciences companies in need of space.
It's betting such start-ups will be looking for coworking lab space, and has plans to invest $500 million over time in the site.
"There's a surge of life science startups in Pennsylvania, with more than half of these companies staffing fewer than ten employees," said Christopher Molineaux, head of the state trade association Life Sciences Pennsylvania, in a statement.
GlaxoSmithKline will remain as an anchor tenant, and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and several other companies have also signed on to lease space.
Real estate and rental companies have sprung up to support the life sciences industry's demand for space, which is particularly crunched in places like Cambridge's Kendal Square.
Alexandria Real Estate, for example, has made leasing to life sciences companies its business, while lab space companies like Lab Central, QB3 and SmartLabs aim to provide a variety of associated support services.