Key Takes on the Lab Space Rental Market from BizNow’s Recent Panel

April 23, 2024 | By Maggie O’Toole

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LabCentral’s COO, Maggie O’Toole, recently joined a panel Enhancing Greater Boston’s Biotech Ecosystems and Innovation Hubs at BizNow’s Boston Life Sciences Conference on March 28th, 2024. The panel included Yvonne Hau, Secretary of Economic Development, State of Massachusetts, Tom/Thomas O’Brien, Founding Partner, The HYM Investment Group, Tzveta Panayotova, Senior Vice President, CannonDesign, Matthew Fickett, Managing Principal, HDR, and Alexander Main, Senior Vice President, Operations, Wise Construction as Moderator. During the conversation, the local experts discussed the current lab space leasing market in the greater Boston area and issues that teams of all sizes are facing when considering a rental in the current climate. Here are a few high-level takeaways as well as a few of Maggie’s reflections on why teams choose LabCentral.

What were the key themes of the panel?

The conversation covered a range of topics including abundance of space in the current market, tenants’ needs, how life sciences companies’ needs differ by stage (seed, Series A, and beyond), and how new technologies, including AI, will influence space requirements over time.

What’s driving the lab space market in the Boston area?

It’s no secret that Pandemic-driven boom in the industry, which drove build outs and numerous office-to-lab conversions, combined with the current funding climate have created a surplus of lab space for rent. Whether you are looking for lab space in Boston, Cambridge or the suburbs, the inventory is there.

What are some of the issues prospective lab space tenants should consider?

Two key factors are the space itself and lease terms. Ensuring the space aligns with the company’s needs at each stage is essential. In the early days, a small footprint and flexibility to grow are key requirements, as is a location that works for the team. Is it important to be near public transportation or academic institutions, or is a suburban location preferable, for example? The second is a bit of a ‘buyer beware’ mindset; not all lab space is created equal. In numerous situations, space that was not originally purpose-built as lab space is often inadequate. With some of the office-space conversions, teams find issues that negatively impact EH&S compliance, do not meet air handling requirements, or even accommodate essential equipment. If lessees are not careful (or if their needs evolve), they can find themselves locked into lab space leases that simply do not work for them.

What are the issues around lease duration?

Another topic we touched on was lease duration. Early stage and growing companies’ needs will vary from year to year if they are moving forward with their science and meeting key milestones. Locking into a five-year lease for a smaller space or committing to a larger space before it is needed are both ill-advised strategies and an inefficient way to allocate precious capital.

How will emerging technologies affect lab space rentals over time?

Beyond the current market, the panel has a watchful eye on emerging technologies and their potential impact on space configurations. Will companies leveraging more artificial intelligence in their process development need a different ratio of lab space to office space? Or will those new tools accelerate their science and drive a different growth timeline? We didn’t come to conclusions there, but it is a factor we are all considering.

Why do teams choose LabCentral?

Life sciences entrepreneurs looking for lab space in the greater Boston area, whether first-time founders or serial entrepreneurs, find LabCentral to be the best value in the industry. In the LabCentral network, entrepreneurs and their teams have the lab space, operational support and top-shelf equipment to support their science and the resources and community to help them succeed. This includes an exceptional network of LabCentral sponsors, investors, advisors, fellow entrepreneurs, and educational programming. And that is on top of the flexibility to grow inside of the LabCentral network.

If you’re interested in learning more about LabCentral residency, contact Tim Jarrett at or Megan Rivera at