That’s a good thing for the local economy that also happens to pose a challenge for young bioscience startups that have to compete with large firms for ready-to-go lab space.
To address, and to encourage biotech startups born in Delaware to stay in Delaware, the state’s Council on Development Finance (CDF) allocated up to $3 million from the Delaware Strategic Fund in December for a pilot program with Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP) that will help put local bio startups into lab spaces. Gov. John Carney also committed to including additional funding from the FY22 budget.
DPP will vet interested companies, which must be partnered with developers on a specific project.
A DPP assessment from 2018 to 2019 found that about 12 of 60 Delaware organizations identified a coming need for at least 150,000 additional square feet of lab space.
“We’re dealing with a two-pronged challenge,” said DPP Director of Innovation Ariel Gruswitz. “We have a shortage of ready-to-go lab space — which is a growing challenge that faces every state because of increased demand from bioscience companies. Secondly, many Delaware developers have not, to date, undertaken these types of projects due to the complexity and higher costs to increase lab space inventory.”
Qualified companies are eligible for grants of up to 33% of the fit-out costs for lab space, with conditions that will ensure that the infrastructure remains intact as lab space to support the continued growth of the industry.
“We’re looking for companies that need support as they get their products ready to commercialize,” Gruswitz said. “We want to improve the available inventory in the state and continue to support companies we’ve already invested in, or are interested in coming to Delaware with the types of high-paying jobs we see with these sorts of operations.”
The CDF previously supported efforts by the state to build out space for early-stage ventures, including two incubators with wet labs: Delaware Innovation Space and DTP@STAR, an affiliate of the Delaware Technology Park.
Companies or developers interested in learning more may contact Gruswitz at email@example.com.
Some of the companies DPP wants to help do not need the cashflow to justify building out lab space and are more inclined to use their capital to get their products to market, Gruswitz added.