Growing life science companies are facing space crises in the Detroit and Ann Arbor areas

Because of what Bouis referred to as the university bureaucracy mandating the UM umbrella organization to approve companies working in this field, there is usually a backlog of organizations waiting to get in, which is reflected in unused areas.
That seldom lasts long, says Bouis.
“I think more space is definitely needed in the lab,” she said, adding that those who manage the space are largely pursuing a goal beyond just making money. “We all grow the cake together and as laboratory landlords we don’t have to compete with each other.”

Even companies in the privately controlled space are finding that growth without more space can be challenging, according to Yashar Niknafs, CEO of Ann Arbor-based prostate cancer and COVID-19 testing company LynxDx Inc., which grew rapidly and found space available from 2020 become a major obstacle.

“There have been a number of instances where we have faced (the possibility) that we would have to move because we were at capacity,” said Niknaf’s Crain’s of the company’s experience over the past two years. “So we did a little bit of real estate here and there, but there aren’t many pre-configured laboratory solutions, especially for a larger group. You may find a workbench or two, but you can. I don’t do a full-fledged commercial operation. ”

LynxDx, like many other life sciences companies in the region, operates out of MI-HQ, a co-working-like facility in west Ann Arbor that spans three buildings totaling approx, warehousing and other functions, that such companies need.

Building laboratory space is “not for the faint of heart,” said Mark Smith, president of MI-HQ, who started the space “out of necessity” more than 20 years ago after investing in a company that needed space but has pulled her stomach up for various reasons.

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