The 7 Best Things I’ve Learned from Designing Life Science Incubators in the Bay Area.

The 7 Best Things I’ve Learned from Designing Life Science Incubators in the Bay Area.

--Tony Gonzalez CEO ofSan Jose BioCube

The Bay Area is mighty, where life science startups can raise $21 billion in one year alone. A place where 3.4 million sq. ft of new construction and office-to-lab conversions are in full swing. And a place that attracts bright minds from significant Universities such as Stanford, Berkeley, Davis, and San Jose.

In the 15 years we’ve had the BioCube open, we’ve seen and learned a lot. After recently opening BioCube expansion in North San Jose, it dawned on me. We are different. We have a different mindset and a vast legacy of proof points. So, I wanted to share some of that with you and encourage you to tour one of our facilities to see these ideas in action.

Here are the seven best things I’ve learned and, above all else, why it matters to our clients.

Insight One: Start with an Ambitious Destination.

We had a destination mindset when we began conceiving our second incubator in San Jose. We did not want to convert a Bed Bath & Beyond nor renovate an old Toys R Us. Instead, we wanted to create a like-minded scientific community experience on campus. Today, our new incubator sits atop a massive 465K sq. foot dedicated life science campus –dedicated to just that. The most significant benefit to our clients is simple:  They are in a vibrant science-only community that will allow them to “grow in place” at one of the largest Life Science research parks, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Insight Two: Build it Like a Home, not a Lab.

Researchers are often battered by challenges and pushed to their limits. We see them put in long hours in our labs. They cannot telecommute, garage-incubate, or do zoom calls from their kitchenette. So, we made creature comforts an essential part of our design plan and placed a high value on things like art that remind our clients of home. The benefit to our clients is harmony where their workspaces still have the creature comforts of home.

Insight Three: Listen to our users. Put them first.

Our users are diverse and have varied needs. We try to see around corners, but we are the first to admit that one size does not fit all. So, their feedback is what drives change in our organization. Our new BioCube North embodies hundreds of requests, insights, and data points shared over the last seventeen years of listening and putting our users first. Did we get it right? We try, measure, and learn. Each new build-out we do, reflects this. The benefit to our clients is that we invest, take risks, and grow with them. And by investing in them, we are investing in us, too.

Insight Four: Design for Free Movement & Efficiency

We consider separate flows for staff, visitors, deliveries, and waste. We support efficient technologies. We know our spaces can move and allow for movement, so change is easy for us. Our spaces can also be converted between a wet and dry lab as we have planned and designed for this. The benefit to the client is that we create and optimize everything inside our four walls for efficiency, modularity, and momentum.

Insight Five: Believe in The Company You Keep.

We cater to the people who are driven to break the limits of what’s possible in science. They want to leave a legacy. They need economies, shared equipment, compliance, safety, and best practices. We are their training ground. The benefit to the client is that we can give a small company a significant company advantage in this kind of setting.

Insight Six: Create Conversation Starters to Cultivate Community.

Things like foosball, video games, artist murals, and ice cream socials are essential to us. We can create a happier community by encouraging cross-pollination between teams and people. So our design always includes fun stuff and a funnel and flow design between spaces. We also design collaboration spaces and break-out spaces. Huddle rooms. Outdoor amenities with fire pits and more. The benefit is that our clients can disconnect and connect when it suits them.

Insight Seven: Start-up Science has its Timeline.

Unlike other incubators and accelerators, there is no time limit for our clients. We don’t believe you can put an expiration date on science. So, there is no countdown. They can crawl, walk, or run at their own pace. And when they are ready to graduate, they can grow in place within our new 465K sq. foot dedicated life science campus.  

To set up a tour go to our connect page, and visit 2680 Zanker Rd, San Jose, CA 95134.