Lab Central, Inc., also known as LabCentral, is a non-profit organization started in September 2012. LabCentral built a shared laboratory facility in Kendall Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts that offers fully permitted laboratory and office space for approximately 25 emerging biotech companies where controlled conditions in which scientific research, experiments, and measurement may be performed. As a non-profit, LabCentral does not take equity in any of its companies. Its main sources of funding are revenues from user fees, as well as grants and sponsorship contributions. LabCentral officially opened on November 1, 2013.
Co-founders Peter Parker of BioInnovation LLC and Johannes Fruehauf of Cambridge Biolabs, first thought of flexible, turnkey laboratory space for startups in 2006 while launching Cequent Pharmaceuticals with technology licensed from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. After selling Cequent, they each established new ventures as residents of the Cambridge Innovation Center, a shared office space for startups established by Tim Rowe. In late 2012, Rowe joined Parker and Fruehauf as a co-founder of LabCentral, and with the help of Steven Tregay of Forma Therapeutics and John Harthorne of MassChallenge, created LabCentral with the goal of allowing entrepreneurs with potentially game-changing technology a move-in-ready space to allow them to focus immediately on research, instead of spending their resources on leasing, fit-out, and permitting lab space.
On February 7, 2013, The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center announced that it awarded LabCentral a $5 million capital grant to fund LabCentral. Triumvirate Environmental also became a founding sponsor with a donation of 2.5 million dollars. Other early sponsors include Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, Cooley LLP, Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, and Johnson & Johnson Innovation. MIT Investment Management Company is LabCentral's real estate partner.
On April 4, 2013, LabCentral hosted a groundbreaking event at its 700 Main Street location in Kendall Square, Cambridge. Speakers included Governor Deval Patrick, Senator Mary L. Landrieu, chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Susan Windham-Bannister, PhD, president of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, State Senator Sal DiDomenico, and MIT Associate Provost Martin Schmidt.
As of June 2013, LabCentral was approaching $10 million in funding.
In August 2013, LabCentral announced that Vaxess Technologies will be the first company that will move into the facility. Vaxess is a startup created by Harvard graduates who are working to commercialize a Tufts University technology that will stabilize vaccines so they can be shipped and stored without refrigeration.
In September 2013, LabCentral announced that Eppendorf North America became a gold sponsor. Eppendorf North America is a subsidiary of Eppendorf AG, the world's market leader in the field of developing, producing and selling products and services for laboratories.
In October 2013, LabCentral announced that Auxocell Laboratories Inc. had been admitted. Auxocell has developed a new method to harvest Wharton's jelly for use in various medical treatments. Conkwest was also admitted and is the first organization admitted to LabCentral that's working on treatments for cancer.
In November 2013, Life Technologies Corporation was announced as a major sponsor and American Laboratory Trading was announced as gold sponsors.
It was also been announced that other organizations such as Bayesian Ventures and 121 Bio moved into LabCentral.
In March 2014, Boston Business Journal listed LabCentral as one of Johnson & Johnson's six bets made in 2014. LabCentral announced a sponsorship from Pfizer. The sponsorship allows Pfizer to nominate two startups per year to gain access to lab space at LabCentral. It was also announced that 11 companies currently reside at LabCentral but that 14 would occupy LabCentral by the end of April.
In April 2014, Governor of Massachusetts Deval Patrick helped celebrate the grand opening of Labcentral and announced a capital funding of $5M for LabCentral.
The 28,000 square-foot facility is located in an historic, MIT-owned building at 700 Main Street, Cambridge.
LabCentral is designed to accommodate approximately 25 life-science companies, comprising up to 100 scientists and entrepreneurs. Its entire architectural concept, including kitchen, conference rooms, offices and communal spaces were designed to facilitate interaction and collaboration between startups. At its core, LabCentral offers functional lab space for 30 scientists in an open, shared laboratory. There are also eight individual laboratory suites available that allow small companies to house 6–8 scientists in fully autonomous units. Various equipment is available such as real-time-qPCR, flow cytometry, chemical hoods, centrifuges, biosafety cabinets and incubators, BSL-2-rated suites, High-performance liquid chromatography, and plate readers.
LabCentral services include equipment maintenance and technical support, safety/compliance training, central waste handling, biosafety permits, and a speaker series and continuing education offerings. On-site CRO support (FTE basis), logistical support, and group purchasing are also provided, as are other programs where pooled access reduces costs.
With a 168-inch TV in their lobby, LabCentral has become a destination for big screen viewing parties. In the summer of 2014, LabCentral hosted viewing parties for the 2014 FIFA World Cup with staff from the French and Swiss consulate in Boston and associates from Cambridge Consultants.
LabCentral's non-profit status helps reduce costs while potential tenants apply and undergo a competitive review process. Applicants with the highest potential are able to purchase a membership and space.
Tenants, referred to as "Members", pay a $400 per month fee for membership, $3,600 per month for a bench spot, and $400 per month for a lab desk. The eight private lab suites can be reserved for $14,000–$16,000 per month. Additional office space costs $900–$2,450 per month.
LabCentral believes it will have 10 members by the end of 2013. It expects to be full in three years but may potential double its size.