Life Sciences Sublease Strategies: Effective Planning for the Near Term and Beyond

This article was co-authored by Rachel Stilling and Amy Braun.


Many life sciences companies trying to sublease their surplus space are finding it challenging to set their space apart within today’s saturated sublease market. These companies have the opportunity to be thoughtful about the design of this space, both to attract a subtenant in the near term and to plan for a potential expansion in the future. Here are a handful of future-focused strategies for space configuration that will help your space appeal to subtenants and reduce necessary renovations for future occupancy, ultimately maximizing your flexibility and options.


Anticipate Subtenant Needs

Design a space that will require minimal construction for incoming subtenants. Consider installing common biotech needs that other subleases may not offer, such as TC rooms and support rooms that can be used for screening or synthesis. Toward the same end, be generous with power and back-up power, data ports, and gas drops. These will appeal to most life sciences users and may also serve your organization’s long-term needs, should you eventually grow into the space. The same goes for storage, mechanical, and operations rooms – design these strategically so that they are accessible and easily adapted. When it comes to lab furniture, seek out models with built-in flexibility so users can modify the space without undergoing a full redesign. If you don’t know where to begin with furniture, consult a lab planner to point you in the right direction.


Adopt an Incubator Mindset

Companies with sublease space on the market should think about what kinds of tenants will foster a rich, collaborative scientific environment. Seeking out a subtenant with similar science and values may spark interesting synergies and partnerships among teams. If your subtenant has comparable scientific equipment and processes, this will also reduce necessary renovations if you end up reclaiming the space for your own use. For tenants with larger sublease spaces available, consider offering small portions of space with flexible terms to create a de facto incubator. While this creates additional administrative work, the benefits of a dynamic, multi-disciplinary workplace may outweigh the costs. Additionally, this strategy will allow you to reclaim smaller portions of space at a time as you grow.


Do Your Due Diligence

Before you begin the planning and design of surplus space, engage a team of designers and project managers to ensure that your ideas are feasible within the space and likely to generate long-term value. Partnering with experts can help you avoid the common pitfalls in life sciences design and benefit from innovations and best practices across the industry.

Given the abundance of unclaimed space on the sublease market, it is highly valuable to consider creative strategies to set your space apart. While every organization has different real estate and workplace requirements, these guidelines will help facilitate a rewarding sublease process, and will also position your company for a more seamless transition into expansion space. For a full assessment of your space and custom strategies for the future. Reach out to Cresa’s Project Management and Lab Planning team.