Three new life sciences accelerators in the works, Alexandria Real Estate CEO says

Joel Alexandria

Alexandria Real Estate CEO Joel Marcus

Alexandria Real Estate is developing three new accelerators around the country, aiming to launch startups in the agricultural, digital health and biotech spaces, CEO Joel Marcus told MedCity News.

The life sciences real estate development firm plans to open an agricultural sciences-related accelerator in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina by the end of this year and a digital health accelerator in San Francisco in 2015.

The ball’s also rolling on building a biotechnology accelerator somewhere in Texas, Marcus said, that will focus on oncology and neuroscience.


“We have different investor syndicates for each accelerator,” Marcus said, adding that the ag tech accelerator will be backed by companies in the food production industry, the digital health startup will be backed by companies in that space, and so on.

The Texas biotech accelerator is illustrative of Alexandria’s forthcoming plans to expand its life sciences real estate footprint in the state, Marcus said.

“I think Texas is going to be the next new biotech hub,” Marcus said. “Texas is a very wealthy state. There are a lot of people going there, and the state and a lot of the local groups are putting massive amounts of money in. It’s got great clinical practice, good academic science but it’s not terribly focused yet on early-stage science – it’s a great, fertile place for us.”

(Location’s undisclosed as yet, but my money’s on Austin)

The role of the life sciences real estate developer is, after all, to help carve out industry clusters by providing the needed infrastructure – e.g. space. Marcus spoke of Alexandria’s urban cluster model, choosing to build up life sciences hubs in regions that have a strong academic presence, are a stone’s throw from top-class medical centers, and have easy access to sophisticated capital.

For instance, Alexandria just helped expand Seattle’s Accelerator Corp., following this urban cluster model to help build a new launching pad for startups in New York City. The new Accelerator is housed on the real estate developer’s sprawling Center for Life Science – the city’s first and only science park. This expansion has $51.1 million in capital from a number of high-profile backers, which include Pfizer, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson and, of course, Alexandria.

He added that despite San Francisco’s cluttered digital health startup landscape, there’s still plenty of room to grow – which is why the company is launching a new accelerator in that space.

“Our goal is broadening our strategy into digital health – I think it’s going to be one of the most important areas in the future,” Marcus said. ”

Alexandria has long had a vested stake in getting startups off the ground – the company positions early-stage innovation and investment as one of its main drivers, Marcus said.

“The realty bit is our hardware,” Marcus said. “The software is all the other stuff – the startups, the accelerators, the early-stage growth. That’s the lifeblood of the life sciences ecosystem.”

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