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Shared laboratory spaces enable nascent startups intitate working on their ideas at a significantly lower cost than they incur while starting on their own.

Moreover, these startups also get in touch with other more experienced startups and probably alumni too – been there done that community – who are ready to share their experiences for more focused results, improving success rates for the new startups.

For the biotech industry, LabCentral is a shared laboratory space located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, designed to support and nurture early-stage biotech and life sciences startups.

The cost of establishing a biotech facility can go in millions of dollars, however, startups can start their work at LabCentral in a fraction of a million.

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The facility was started with a $5 million grant by the State of Massachusetts under its Massachusetts Life Science Initiative.

Dr. Johannes Fruehauf Co-Founder and President LabCentral says government’s support is necessary for establishing such places, which have great impact but may not produce immediate gratification.

“The private investor might not have been as patient and the private investor wouldn’t see gratification in the fact that we created thousands of jobs. They want to see dollars,” said Fruehauf while speaking with foreign journalists at the LabCentral office in Cambridge, MA last month on “Building Biotechs Better: A Launchpad for Collaborative Acceleration”.

Fruehauf says it was perhaps Massachusetts Life Science Initiative best investment out of their total $1 billion fund under the initiative because of the impact it had, as it created hundreds of jobs. The jobs created pay $100,000 on average, he added.

The startups associated with LabCentral have raised $22.9 billion since 2013. It created 1,284 new jobs in 2022. It is also responsible for six acquisitions as well as an intitial public offering (IPO).

The biotech tech industry, especially startups in the space are now moving fast toward leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) in their works.

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According to the company, 21% early-stage (Seed and Series-A) VC financing was captured by resident and alumni companies of LabCentral with nearly $1.2 billion raised in 2022. LabCentral’s resident and alumni companies raised another $809 million in 2022 in Series-B and Series-C funding. Total funding raised in 2022 was $6.05 billion.

‘LabCentral open to work with anyone that wants to bring impact’

Responding to a Business Recorder query, Fruehauf said his organisation is working with other countries and collaborating with them.

When asked if someone came for instance from a country like Pakistan to seek help to start something similar to LabCentral, he said, “We have a lot of openness to share our model or help with consultancy or help building infrastructure elsewhere. I think we have a very unique set of people who have built dozens of such facilities and have a lot of knowledge on how to do this work.”

LabCentral was founded in 2013 with the goal of reimagining the innovation pipeline of the biotech and life sciences industry.

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“Our founding partners sought to cultivate an ecosystem that would serve as a dynamic and diverse environment for entrepreneurs and scientists to test their ideas and bring novel, life-saving technologies to market, and ultimately to save patients’ lives,” the company’s website says.

AI takes centre stage in Biotech

There’s big data at play in biotech and artificial intelligence is proving handy for the sector and is taking center stage.

“It’s already happening. If you don’t do AI, you can’t do biotech,” said Fruehauf. “I literally had a selection committee meeting and every single applicant was AI-based something, something.”

LabCentral resident and alumni companies launched 37 new clinical trials in 2022 and dosed an additional 4,504 participants with potentially life-saving therapeutics.

Companies were granted a total of 56 patents for their novel technologies. There are another 116 active trials in the clinic.

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Fruehauf (MD PhD) has a background as a physician working in diverse health systems. In his over 15 years as a serial biotech entrepreneur, Dr. Fruehauf has dedicated much of his professional endeavors to the mission of re-defining life science entrepreneurship and building start-up ecosystems.

Along working with in the startup space, LabCentral is also engaged with big pharmaceutical companies.

“…by partnering with us here and in our other sites, they have the broadest possible filter, or business intelligence gathering into what is going on at the cutting edge of science. So, they are with us for early intelligence and don’t sleep through big waves of science.

“We have 18 of the 20 largest companies with us. Because they look bad if they are not [our] partners and they look terrible if they miss a big thing. So, they would rather pay a small fee to LabCentral to not be idiots,” he said.


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