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Partnership with CIC–Providing Tools for Startup Growth in Philadelphia’s Life Science Lab Space

4 min read 06 Sep 2023

Philadelphia, PA – With a moniker like “Cellicon Valley,” exceptional academic institutions, a skilled workforce, and steadily growing infrastructure, it’s no surprise that Philadelphia was recently ranked as the #5 life science hub in the U.S. One component supporting Philadelphia’s growing and active biotech community is the lab and office space, essential for providing a physical place that fosters the growth of the many promising startups in the community. 

With all the excitement around the growth of the scientific community in the City of Brotherly Love, the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) opened a coworking wet lab space to give scrappy startups a place to let their auspicious ideas flourish. 

“What’s special about CIC’s space in Philly is that it accommodates early-stage scientists with passion and data to support their ideas,” says Kelsey Henderson, the Lab Development Lead at CIC. “We enable them to come in and rent a single bench on flexible terms, have it for a month, and focus on raising capital to expand their operations.”

CIC’s approach has been incredibly successful, allowing CIC to provide adjustable support to pre-seed companies, several of which have grown from a few benches to a private lab space of over 35 lab benches. This philosophy extends to CIC’s other locations as well: With coworking spaces located in biotech hubs around the globe – including Boston, Cambridge, Providence, St. Louis, Miami, Tokyo, Rotterdam, and Warsaw – CIC operates to provide their innovators with the maximum chance to impact the life sciences and the many other industries CIC serves.

Providing Support for the Next-Generation of Life Science Companies

But physical space is only part of the equation for the companies that CIC serves. 

“A lot of our clients are academic spinouts,” explains Kelsey, “so it’s a big step for them to start in a new co-working or private lab space. We’ve organised our labs to provide scientists with things to help them and accelerate their progress.” 

That includes various amenities, including an in-house lab management team that handles equipment and consumables ordering, regular lab coat and facilities cleaning, hazardous waste disposal, and many others. In addition, CIC provides an extensive collection of shared molecular and cell biology equipment – including flow cytometers, high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), cell sorters and separators, tissue culture facilities, ultra-low temperature (ULT) freezers, digital PCR (dPCR) platforms, and various cell imaging platforms – available for unmetered use. This enables startups to access vital equipment without raising the capital to purchase it.

“We always try to focus on making decisions that support our scientists,” Kelsey shares. “CIC recently doubled the footprint of our physical lab space in Philadelphia because we wanted to accommodate the continued growth of our current cohort.”

Digital Infrastructure that Fosters Growth

Beyond the lab space, shared equipment, and personnel support, many companies need a digital infrastructure to grow and scale efficiently. To help the scientific teams at their Philadelphia site, CIC partnered with eLabNext so that residents could access an all-in-one electronic lab notebook and sample, equipment, and protocol management tools, enabling complete digitalization of a lab.

“We’ve had clients use eLabNext’s digital lab platform at our site before, so we talked to them about how we could best support our community,” says Kelsey. “We worked out a sponsorship agreement so all of our shared wet lab clients can access the software at a discounted rate, allowing them to see how it performs in their workflows and integrates into their SOPs. With our focus on enabling clients’ growth, we wanted to provide them with products that help them do that. Choosing eLabNext’s platform was a no-brainer.”

The eLabNext platform also provides a growing library of add-ons to expand the software’s functionality and facilitate startups to tailor it to their needs.

“One of the most attractive features of partnering with CIC was the alignment around the same values: aiding innovation, elevating research, and doing so in a vibrant ecosystem with incentivized programs, says Zareh Zurabyan, Head of eLabNext, Americas. “We know that providing a robust digital lab strategy to a startup will not only set them up for successful fundraising, reproduction of experiments, and data mining, but it will impact their business strategy and facilitate innovation. With all the new amazing artificial intelligence/machine learning advances that are now available, labs want to be able to diversify their tools. We can provide that to them directly with our Digital Lab Platform and our eLabMarketplace. These are very exciting times, and we are excited to work with all the CIC labs!” 

Philadelphia’s reputation as a thriving life science hub is well-deserved, and the CIC has played, and will continue to play, a significant role in supporting the growth of the city’s biotech community through physical and digital infrastructure.

eLabNext is now at the CIC Philadelphia site.

To learn more about Philadalphia’s growing life science sector, visit cic.com.

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