The availability of lab space is critical to the growth of the life sciences industry. Here in Denver, the life sciences development pipeline continues to grow, having reached over 930,000 square feet of lab space in Q4 of 2022. A strong STEM labor pool, favorable taxes and incentives, and capital/funding that continue to grow from the private and public sectors have fueled the industry’s growth.
This past fall, Andy Cullen, partner and managing broker of Tributary Real Estate, had the opportunity to join a delegation convened by the Metro Denver EDC in Scotland to see firsthand how the country has become home to one of the most significant life science clusters in Europe.
Cullen offers more than two decades of experience in commercial real estate. Andy leads Tributary’s integrated brokerage and investment strategy, supporting the success of the team in delivering positive results for clients through a personalized service model.
Over the last five years, Colorado has seen an influx of growth in the life sciences sector. What factors are contributing to this growth?
Colorado has several unique qualities that are attractive to life science industry partners. First and foremost, Colorado is home to one of the most educated populations in the country, and companies in the space are drawn to our state due to our highly educated workforce and growing tech community. Institutions like CU Boulder and the Anschutz Medical Campus are prime examples of local research institutions nationally recognized for their innovative efforts in moving the life sciences industry forward. For the past six years, Colorado has been able to leverage these qualities to raise over $1 billion in life sciences funding consecutively.
How is Tributary Real Estate involved within the life sciences industry?
Last November, I had the incredible opportunity to join a delegation convened by the Metro Denver Economic Development Council (EDC) in Scotland to see firsthand how the country has become home to one of the largest life science clusters in Europe. The delegation met with key leaders in the space – from members of the Scottish Parliament to top life science innovators – to better understand how Colorado can gain a competitive edge in this rapidly-evolving field. Our team is excited about the opportunities to expand our life sciences industry here in Colorado. We are ready to partner with prospective companies considering our state for expansion.
You mentioned Scotland has become home to one of the largest life science clusters in Europe. How did they achieve this?
Scotland’s infrastructure and political/economic landscape allow for much more dynamic investments in the life sciences industry. For example, by leveraging a single-payer health care system, Scotland is able to fund projects that will benefit their people and ultimately help the country save money on health care. They’ve also been able to make proximity work in their favor. With Edinburgh’s hospital being located next to their college, and their Innovation Center located in between them, it creates symmetry between these different groups that are all trying to work towards a single solution. Finally, they prioritize their lab space. I was able to visit the Edinburgh BioQuarter, where they dedicate around 30,000 square feet of lab space to allow biotech companies to incubate their cutting-edge technology, which usually on average a lab dedicates roughly 200-400 square feet per person.
Can Colorado become a top market for the life sciences sector? If so, how?
Colorado absolutely has the potential to become a key player in this rapidly evolving field; doing so will require a clear vision and a concentration of resources. Above all, Colorado needs to level up its funding for life sciences. With the proper level of funding, Colorado can invest in the right technology and institutions that will make us a leader in the industry. We also need to invest in the high-tech infrastructure that is needed to support and influx of life science institutions. Although building incubator spaces may be a pricey investment, they are necessary investments for bridging the gap between research and viable products. Lastly, we need to leverage the existing institutions we already have here in Colorado. We need to continue to invest in the areas that are going to make meaningful impacts on this industry, such as CU Boulder and the Anschutz Medical Campus. Finally, by leveraging institutions like National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) located in the Denver metro region, we are uniquely positioned to create partnerships to spur innovation and growth in the industry within Colorado.
When will Colorado start to see a major growth burst in the life science industry?
If we continue to prioritize investment into these existing organizations, Colorado will be set above the standard and we could see the state become a key player in this industry by 2028.