Incubator Space

Aug 12th, 2007 | By | Category: Response to Critique, South Lake Union

So, let’s say I woke up this morning with a great idea to deal with three critical problems in embryonic stem cell therapies with one tidy little trick.

Could I found a company in Lake Union? In Seattle? In the region? Finding a vacant warehouse, sweeping out the rats and installing some desks won’t cut it. Like any biotech start-up, I’ll need lab space, with specialized equipment, air handling and utility support. Some fee-for-service cores, for things like DNA sequencing or animal handling, are essential. So is access to a proper academic library—remember, most journal articles are subscription only.

Very little of the built or planned lab space in Lake Union is set up like this. The “biotech incubator” facilities on Eastlake—not technically in SLU—are woefully inadequate. Nor are the support services in the pipeline. Without some far better developed incubator space for start-ups, the neighborhood will fail as a biotech hub. Period.

UW is already the largest single employer in the city. Do you honestly think the most talented faculty will stick around without the ability to start companies and fully develop ideas? This isn’t a matter of real-estate or making a lovely neighborhood of near-downtown housing. This should be about economic development.

Think I’m just being a whiner? Check out New York City’s biotech plan. That is serious, and likely to succeed despite serious disadvantages relative to Seattle. Ours is a joke in comparison.