Planning Your Lab
Setting up a lab from scratch takes substantial effort, time, and considerable expense. It requires certifications and ongoing safety documentation. The early stages of launching a business may involve more effort and money than you can spare. Alternatives to setting up your own lab include the following:
- Conduct sponsored research in your university lab at some negotiated cost and with conflict of interest details worked out. (This is not always possible.)
- Collaborate with an existing lab, for example, by renting bench space or using the established lab during their off hours.
- Engage the assistance of a lab or a research organization to conduct all or part of the research for you.
- Rent lab space in an incubator, which is defined as. . .
- An organization that supports the growth and success of startups by providing physical and service needs, such as physical workspace, shared facilities, guidance, and some funding. Some incubators will allow you to rent bench space and offices and use specialized services, such as cell culture.
Examples of Incubators
- 65 US Biotech and Pharma Incubators
- Digital Health Institute for Transformation – Incubator specifically for companies developing remote health monitoring.
- TheraNova – Medical device incubator located in San Francisco.
- The Pink Ceiling – Led by Cindy Eckert, who started two health-related companies, her “Pinkubator” supports women-focused business ideas with funding and information.
A lab location that all key personnel can access will facilitate communication and expedite productivity (Chitale et al., 2022). Consider starting your business and locating your lab near a center for life science research and biotechnology businesses, such as Boston, San Francisco, San Diego, or the Research Triangle in North Carolina, as it will facilitate hiring, networking, and collaborations.
Contract Research Organizations
Companies may be able to contract with a Contract Research Organization (CRO) to develop part of the product or run a clinical trial. Using a CRO to complete part of your research may not count toward dollar limits on subcontracting made by granting institutions. Discuss with the program director at the institute to which you are submitting your SBIR proposal whether this is an option for you.
Running a Lab, Testing Service, or CRO as a Business
Consider, also, whether you might be interested in founding a business that is based on conducting research, testing, or laboratory services for others on a contract basis. These are examples of service-oriented businesses a life scientist might consider founding.
Read More: As Needs Change, the CRO Industry Adapts – By Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News.
The Federal Laboratory Consortium (FLC) for Technology Transfer
The FLC promotes development and technology transfer from lab to market by providing resources, education, training, tools, and services and promotes federal research through a national network with six regional offices and over 300 federal laboratories. They partner with businesses, academia, and individuals. These resources and facilities help businesses develop their products or facilitate finding partners. They offer collaborative research and access to experts, state-of-the-art facilities, specialized equipment, innovation, and some end users, such as the military.
Chitale S, Lawler C, Klausner A. So you want to start a biotech company. Nat Biotechnol. March 2022;40(3):296–300. doi:10.1038/s41587-022-01239-9.
Kistin, D. Your One-Stop Shop for Federal Laboratory Information. Webinar, FLC Mid Continent, Sandia National Laboratories 2020; SBIR Road Tour.