Lab space crunch: Urgency builds for biotech startup labs in wake of Monsanto deal

If Bayer’s $66 billion acquisition of Monsanto is approved by antitrust regulators late next year as expected, some predict overlapping research and development projects will be cut. Business, finance and legal types who know how to run science-based companies could also lose their jobs. Others may just be less certain of their future under new corporate ownership and decide to strike out on their own.

Either way, there’s likely to be some impact on Monsanto’s regional workforce of roughly 4,100 people. And there’s not enough cheap startup lab space to accommodate many new companies, or growth within existing ones.

“The good and bad news is it’s all full, and we’re in need of additional space,” Donn Rubin, president and CEO of BioSTL, said. “If there is an exodus of talent that includes those of an entrepreneurial bent that want to start companies, we will need to solve the space problem to accommodate more startups.”

St. Louis County’s Helix Center biotech incubator is also close to full, said Sheila Sweeney, CEO of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. The space offers plant science and other startups affordable lab space near the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and Monsanto campus that form the nexus of the region’s plant science research.

The partnership is already looking at options to fund an expansion of the Helix Center.

In the meantime, stopgap measures are needed to provide lab space in the Creve Coeur plant science area.

Read more: St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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