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The Benefits of a Shared Research Facility for Early Stage Companies

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Start-up culture is booming in the UK, especially in the life sciences sector.

These early stage companies are often spin-offs from academia or founded by ex-pharma/Contract Research Organisation scientists. Many of these companies are balancing competing demands with limited resources.

Start-ups prefer to co-locate with other similar companies to form eco-systems. These companies benefit hugely from having a shared (managed) facility as provided by many incubator spaces.

A shared facility can include basic utilities such as glass washing, cold room, liquid nitrogen storage, waste store, gas cages, dark room (for microscopy) and laundry room. The facility may also house shared equipment, such as dishwasher, autoclave, ice-machine, drying oven, etc. A more advanced facility might host shared analytical equipment, including for example UV/VIS spectrophotometer, HPLC, Mass spectrometer, FTIR, Flow cytometer and different types of microscopes.

These benefits within a shared research facility are particularly valuable to early stage companies as they offer;

1. Space utilisation

Shared facilities help avoid duplicate equipment purchases and enable scientists to make the best use of the precious lab space available.

2. Cost efficiency

Avoiding duplicate equipment is cost efficient and enables start-up funding to be better used.

3. Energy and resource efficiency

Laboratories are power-hungry spaces. By not duplicating equipment unnecessarily and using lab space more effectively, energy and resources are utilised more efficiently.

4. Time savings for researchers

Managers of shared equipment facilities save researchers’ time by taking over responsibilities including maintaining equipment and training new equipment users.

5. Maintenance

Reducing individual equipment maintenance contracts and schedules benefits all the parties ensuring smooth operations whilst saving costs and time.

6. Collaboration

Science thrives on ideas sharing and chance encounters. Shared facilities provide excellent opportunities for researchers from different companies to interact and collaborate with the potential to access diverse expertise.

Dr Manisha Kulkarni
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