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CIC is expanding its Philly footprint, citing a growing need for lab space

Philadelphia just ranked sixth on Newmark's list of top life sciences clusters in the U.S. This CIC expansion will add to the city's existing 10 million square feet of life sciences space.

CIC Labs + Innovation Campus' coworking space. (Courtesy photo)

Cambridge Innovation Center, aka CIC, is expanding its footprint at 3675 Market St. after its slate of life sciences companies and the broader industry have shown a growing need for lab space amid the pandemic.

CIC came to Philadelphia in 2018 along with lab operator BioLabs as an anchor to the growing uCity Square project. It currently has 137,000 square feet of shared office and lab space, and the expansion will double its lab footprint, taking up 50,000 square feet of two floors across the University City building that were previously used as office space. The expansion means CIC will soon inhabit six floors, four of which are lab space, of 3675 Market.

Even as many tech companies transitioned to fully remote work (and may remain so) at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, lab work must happen IRL. Accordingly, CIC labs have been 100% occupied throughout the pandemic, said Sarah Morin, interim general manager of CIC Philly and VP of CIC’s North American centers. (Former CIC Philly Director Sally Guzik left the org last month to become VP of strategic initiatives for Pittsburgh-based Fourth Economy Consulting.)

“The need for additional benches to serve scientists at every level is undeniable,” Morin said in a statement. “Three-quarters of our existing lab clients are on our waiting list for additional space.”

In its first three years, CIC said, it has housed companies that have raised more than $1.6 billion, added more than 240 jobs and secured more than 65 patents. The org currently houses 22 life sciences companies, 18 of which have lab space and four that cowork and are on the list for their own lab space when more becomes available. Some of CIC’s tenants include Carisma Therapeutics, Century Therapeutics, Cabaletta Bio and Spirovant Sciences.

The $11 million expansion project will increase the number of small, medium, and large private labs available overall, and will service existing and new clients. It will also introduce graduation labs, which provide workspaces with 15 to 30 or more benches to support larger companies.

CIC is aiming to complete this expansion in Q1 of 2022; its existing lab space will remain available and functional throughout the buildout.

Philadelphia ranked sixth on Newmark’s recently released list of top life sciences clusters in the U.S. The report found that the region has more than 10 million square feet of dedicated space, with more than 1.1 million square feet of space under construction for life sciences industries and another 1.6 million proposed to be added.

Tim Rowe, founder and CEO of CIC, said in an email that Philadelphia has clearly emerged as a “very strong place to build a life sciences company.” Its waitlist and full occupation during the pandemic points to that, he said, and the city’s universities, affordability, location, infrastructure, food scene, and arts and culture make it a desirable place for companies to keep growing.

“Philadelphia has earned a reputation for breakthroughs in science, technology and healthcare, while the city can boast the fourth highest return on venture capital in the country, and a cost of living that is 34% lower than New York and 50% lower than DC,” Rowe said. “Philadelphia was our strongest facility during the pandemic and we see it emerging as a global center of life sciences.”

Companies: Cambridge Innovation Center

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