Jeff Behrens spent at least 13 years at biotechs in Cambridge, and he says that working at ground zero in the Massachusetts life sciences hub isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Getting to Kendall Square isn’t easy, especially if you’re fighting traffic, as Behrens, a longtime Newton resident, often did. Parking can be an ordeal. And if you want to rent laboratory space, the cost now approaches $100 a square foot.
These are among the reasons, Behrens says, that LabShares Newton — a life sciences incubator he helped found — is attracting new tenants. It opened in October on the first floor of a two-story, 12,000-square-foot building, and the incubator has now grown into the second floor. Business leaders and politicians are scheduled to mark the expansion Wednesday.
“There are certainly things you need to do in Cambridge, like business development,” Behrens, cofounder and chief executive of LabShares, said, given that that’s where so much venture capital is. “But the logistics of driving in the traffic and the parking are a hassle. And it’s incredibly costly.”
In contrast, LabShares provides free parking outside the building in Chapel Bridge Park. And a lab bench that might cost an entrepreneur $4,600 a month in Kendall Square, including the expense of shared laboratory equipment, costs about $3,500 a month at LabShares, Behrens said.
LabShares has seven life sciences tenants, including three that just moved in or are in the process of doing so: AffyImmune Therapeutics, ArrowDots BioMedicals, and JA Bio. The incubator has room for 25 to 30 startups. Behrens, who is also chief executive of Siamab Therapeutics, a startup working on possible treatments for ovarian cancer, said his company was the first life sciences tenant in the building, in 2015.