Delaware’s General Assembly has approved adding another $10 million to its lab grant program, which debuted last fall. The program is designed to spur private sector-led projects that will boost science and tech companies who choose Delaware with increased capacity for ready-to-go lab space.
Delaware Prosperity Partnership (DPP) is responsible for vetting companies to ensure they are at the right phase to qualify for the grant. To qualify for review, companies need to be partnered with developers on a specific project. Once a company completes the vetting process, the state is poised to review the qualified applicant.
A 2018-19 study commissioned by DPP surveyed 60 Delaware science-sector organizations to gauge current and future lab-space needs. It revealed that roughly a dozen of the respondents identified a need for at least 150,000 additional square feet of lab space over the next few years.
“The pilot program was a response to increased demand for lab space from early-stage life science and biopharma companies in the region,” explained Becky Harrington, DPP’s director of Business Development. “Access to capital can present a barrier to growth as most companies in this phase of growth are focused on using their resources to get their product to market versus investing in facilities.”
DPP and other economic development organizations want to increase the inventory of lab space and programming so Delaware can keep these companies in state and encourage their long-term growth here. The lab grant program is especially focused on companies poised to commercialize their products.
Offering grants that cover up to 33% of fit-out costs for lab space, the program requires that the landlord agree to make good-faith efforts to fill the space with lab tenants if the original user grows out of it or has another reason for moving. In the event those efforts aren’t successful, the state will provide the building owner with a portion of the lost rent as a stop-gap measure. This will ensure that the infrastructure remains intact as an asset within the state to support continued growth of the industry.
“The lab grant program not only offers needed support for companies to grow their businesses here,” said Noah Olson, DPP’s acting director of Innovation, “but it should also build a greater awareness and understanding with landlords, brokers and the real estate community about the distinctive needs of the lab-based science sector.”
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