Consortium to market area to biotech companies
By Tom Harlan
The South Florida Bioscience Consortium, economic development groups and a real estate services firm are partnering in a marketing effort to provide information to biotech and pharma organizations interested in the area.
The mission is to collect information from life science companies to find out their real estate requirements and what their plans may be for expanding in South Florida.
Real estate firm CB Richard Ellis approached the consortium about working together on the nationwide marketing effort, said Holly Wiedman, executive vice president of the Beacon Council, Miami-Dade County's economic development agency. The group agreed to work on the project, she said, because life sciences is one of its targeted industries.
The South Florida Bioscience Consortium is made up of the region's individual economic development groups, pharmaceutical companies and university researchers working
together to encourage the commercialization of bioscience products and develop the industry.
The consortium has worked together on other initiatives, such as at BIO 2004, an industry conference held last summer in San Francisco, said Ms.Wiedman.
In November, the group began distributing its biotech survey to membership of the organizations. Results are to be used in national reports that compare South Florida with established biotech clusters in San Diego and Boston.
"The goal of the survey is to provide a benchmark for real estate issues affecting companies in the life science industry in South Florida," said Michael D. Klotz, first vice president of CB Richard Ellis' Life Sciences Group.
Life sciences officials, lenders who are underwriting the financing of industry projects and those interested in developing facilities to serve the industry can review the survey, and subsequent annual surveys, and compare market conditions with other sites, he said.
For example, he said, the survey might contain conditions affecting lab space, pharmaceutical manufacturing space and other factors and trends that would affect the cost of buying or leasing property.
In the past, he said, no one focused on life sciences industry statistics because the industry is to consume 4 million to 5 million square feet in the tri-county area compared to hundreds of millions of square feet of commercial, retail or office space.
The economic development organizations are working with CB Richard Ellis as a region because they have more assets and products to sell together, Ms. Wiedman said. The region is to have Scripps Florida to the north in Palm Beach County and University of Miami's new labs to the south, she said.
"Companies will look at South Florida as a region," she said.
Ms. Wiedman said facilities and infrastructure are in place for biotech firms. The survey would help economic development organizations and the real estate community plan for needs that may arise from the Scripps project and the expansion of UM's Medical School and Civic Center.
Gary Hines, senior vice president of development for the Palm Beach County Business Development Board, said the survey will be useful to identify industry trends and help the organization assist companies interested in expanding or relocating to Palm Beach.
Survey results are to be public but the biotech organizations' information gathered is to remain confidential. Only the aggregate results are to be sent the economic development organizations or published, Mr. Klotz said.
CB Richard Ellis has set a deadline for the survey in the first quarter of 2005, Mr. Klotz said. The company handed out the survey to more than 100 participants and was hoping for 20%-30% participation.
The firm is about halfway to its goal, Mr. Klotz said.
"Because of Scripps coming here, many people are asking questions about the market," he said. "This is an effort to provide some of those answers."