By Joshua Burd
Three companies have joined forces to provide facilities planning, design and site selection services for life sciences and biopharmaceutical firms, with a focus on helping clients streamline their supply chains and physical footprint in a quickly changing industry.
The alliance includes Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Co., a Princeton-based location advisory practice, along with Facility Logix of Burtonsville, Maryland, and EwingCole of Philadelphia. With their new platform, known as Rapid Reshore & Development, the firms say they hope to address many of the logistical challenges facing companies that develop drugs, vaccines and medical devices at a time when speed to market is critical.
They aim to do so by bringing multiple disciplines into one team, which they say will help clients maximize efficiency and minimize risk.
“COVID-19 has created a greater need for these companies to establish and build out facilities, supply chains and other resources within a reduced timeframe,” said Jay Biggins, an executive managing director with Biggins Lacy Shapiro. “On top of the day-to-day development of life-saving therapies and technologies, this may result in an industry bottleneck. That’s where RR&D can assist.”
The firms said life sciences and biopharmaceutical companies are pivoting to increase efficiency and capacity in record time, which requires quicker decision-making, identifying talent, retooling facilities, increasing capacity and shoring up resources.
“Our rapidly changing world created a multitude of challenges and opportunities across all industries,” said Jared Loos, CEO of the design firm EwingCole. “However, few face logistical obstacles like the life sciences and manufacturing sectors, including biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, medical equipment and their respective supply chains. Our goal was to create an alliance that can collaboratively and succinctly support their needs from start to finish.”
New Jersey has historically been a hub for life sciences, although many companies have long since moved laboratory and manufacturing functions to other states. The state does continue to generate interest for such projects, Biggins said, but faces strong competition from other, more established markets such as greater Boston, Philadelphia and Raleigh-Durham.
That competition is all the more fierce as site selectors look to act quickly as they balance key variables such as access to specialized talent and supportive institutional resources, all-in capital and operating cost, the regulatory and tax environment and quality-of-life factors, he added. The cost of living and operating in New Jersey can become a key hurdle, especially for manufacturing projects that are more capital-intensive.
“New Jersey definitely is on the ‘long list’ for most projects — so yes, very much in the game — but the site selection process, while complex, is essentially one of elimination, and projects are typically on tight schedules in order to minimize ‘time-to-market,’ ” Biggins said. “This means New Jersey needs to be cost-competitive ‘enough’ to avoid being eliminated on this variable alone, and then provide a timely, welcoming and predictable government approval process.”
Biggins noted that pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities can require an investment typically ranging from $75 million to more than $500 million and as such are more cost-sensitive. That’s not to say that New Jersey should concede the field on those projects, he said, citing their importance to diversifying the state’s role in the life sciences industry and the employment opportunities for everyone from production workers to scientists.
Winning those projects may require strategies to make New Jersey locations more cost-competitive, Biggins said. The state’s robust network of economic development organizations and industry trade groups also play an important role.
“New Jersey has first-rate organizational resources, from Choose NJ, which brings specialized knowledge and the all-important network of industry relationships, to (the Economic Development Authority), which is one of the strongest nationwide, to BioNJ and (Healthcare Institute of New Jersey), which represent sectors of the life sciences industry and promote a healthy environment for attracting and retaining both companies and talent.
“Without these organizations being at the top of their game and being supported by overall state policy, it would be harder for the state to compete through the noise of a highly competitive global industry.”
The newly formed Rapid Reshore & Development alliance could go a long way toward streamlining the efforts of life sciences companies. In a news release, the group said it aimed to align and accelerate all steps in the speed-to-market process, including:
- Up-front planning and programming
- Scenario development and analysis
- Due diligence of talent market and new facility
- Consideration and comparative costs
- Early conceptual designs
- Competitive real estate procurement, through full design and engineering and project management
“Responding to these challenges calls for more than simple, cookie-cutter solutions,” said Pat Larrabee, president and founder of Facility Logix, a facilities-related consulting firm for the biotech industry. “It requires a holistic, tailor-made approach that involves multiple firms. RR&D breaks from tradition to integrate an entire, full-service team to provide end-to-end solutions for clients through a single, coordinated effort that helps ensure certainty of execution.
“This comprehensive approach enables us to deliver the depth and resources of a full-service firm with the expertise of a specialist.”