Regardless of the industry, the startup phase of a business can be daunting, complicated, and overwhelming. In no space is this truer than capital intensive industries such as biotech and MedTech where startups face the economic challenge to find and equip laboratory spaces. Wet lab incubators provide the infrastructure, resources, and equipment that provide startups with these essential tools, avoiding the inherent risks that come with trying to break out in such an industry.
Wet lab incubators provide the facilities and equipment necessary to help startups get off the ground, with minimal capital requirements. Many wet lab incubators in Orange County, and throughout the nation, offer cutting edge and essential wet lab and office facilities and equipment that is often cost prohibitive for many startup companies. With access to well-equipped laboratory and office facilities, high financial barriers are removed, and startups can focus on growth instead of just trying to find a way to stay afloat.
🔬 Read more about: Lab Space for Biotech Startups.
Not all wet lab incubators are alike; facilities, equipment, amenities, and resources can greatly vary from one incubator to another. It is essential for startup companies to tour the facilities and review the incubator’s equipment to see if the incubator is a good fit for them.
But what should you be looking for? It is important to understand your company’s specific needs from a facilities, amenities, and equipment standpoint. Below are the common top 8 equipment and amenities provided by most wet laboratory incubators.
Most wet laboratory incubator provide tissue culture facilities for the
establishment and maintenance of cell lines often used as invitro models. To help maintain aseptic conditions, tissue culture laboratories have positive pressure relative to the surrounding areas to avoid the inflow of contaminated air. This type of laboratory facility that is exclusive for cell culture work is commonly equipped with biological safety cabinets, tissue culture incubators, microscopes, centrifuges, and water baths.
While touring the facility, inquire about the cell culture laboratory Biological Safety Level.
The Biological Safety Level (BSL) sets the acceptable work practices allowed to take place in a lab setting. These work practices include individual safeguards designed to protect laboratory personnel, as well as the surrounding environment and community.
The Biological Safety Level designation (BSL), which is ranked from one to four, is based on the agents or organisms that are being researched or worked on in the laboratory setting. Most cell culture labs have Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) but the exact requirements depend upon the cell line used and the type of work conducted. Be sure the wet laboratory incubator’s tissue culture facilities meets the specific BSL you need to advance your technology.
🔬 Related: Wet Lab Incubator Equipment
Freezer farms provide short and long term cold storage of laboratory samples and reagents. A freezer farm consists of individual cold storage units set to specific temperatures.
Typically, freezer farms will have the following cold storage units: 4C refrigerator, -20C freezer, and -80C/ultra-low freezers. Some freezer farms have cryogenic storage capabilities in the form of liquid nitrogen Dewars. When considering wet laboratory incubators, determine first your cold storage needs. If cold storage monitoring is integral to maintaining the integrity of your reagents and samples, ask what type of monitoring system (visual or alarm) is used. During the tour, verify the cold storage units are on backup generator power to avoid power outages.
Fume hoods are one of the most used laboratory equipment by medtech and biotech startup companies. Chemical fume hoods prevent the release of hazardous substances into the general laboratory space by exhausting the hazardous and odorous chemicals to the outside of the building. In the event of an accidental spill, the fume hood contains the spilled chemicals fumes and exhausts them away from the user. Startup companies working with toxic chemicals and reagents must have access to fume hoods to safely perform laboratory techniques.
🔬 Read more about: Buying New Lab Equipment
Biotech and medtech startup companies often require imaging equipment such as microscopes. The common microscope, known as a compound microscope, can be broadly categorized into two categories: upright and inverted. Upright microscopes are used to image slides while inverted microscopes are commonly used for viewing culture vessels such as tissue culture flask, petri dishes, etc. Most microscopes can be configured for brightfield, phase contrast, and fluorescence imaging. Before touring the wet laboratory incubator determine what imaging modalities you will need.
Wet lab incubators offer a range of different workspaces for maximum flexibility, no matter the size of your startup. Commonly, wet lab incubators provide private offices, cubicles, private laboratories, and lab benches.
A lab bench usually is designed for 1-2 people and is perfect for entrepreneurs and startup teams who are just starting out. This option allows smaller startups to gain access to an array of laboratory equipment that's shared with other startups.
Private suites, on the other hand, will usually accommodate up to six people and offer an entire laboratory room for additional privacy. In a similar manner, cubicles provide small teams access to business resources (copier machines, receptionist, conference room) while private offices provide larger office space for staff growth. The various size options at your disposal means that you won't need to pay for space and resources you don't need.
🔬 Learn about: How Coworking Spaces are helping the Startup Culture Thrive
Wet lab incubators will have different sized meeting rooms to accommodate your startup company’s business needs. Small huddle rooms or phone booths are great for private calls and teleconferences while conference rooms provide the space and amenities for employees’ meetings or presentations to potential investors. Most incubators have modern AV systems to accommodate teleconferences and formal presentations. While these rooms likely won't need to be used on a regular basis, they can be essential for your continued growth.
Likely the best aspect of reputable wet lab incubators is that they offer access to industry connections and networking events on a regular basis. For instance, University Lab Partners hosts regular events for startups in the MedTech and biotech industries that can be very informative with networking opportunities. Networking events provide opportunities to find a mentor or make business connections that may accelerate your startup.
🔬 Learn more about: What is Life Like at a Wet Lab Incubator?
While a wet lab incubator and the amenities within can be highly beneficial for the success of a startup in the MedTech and biotech industries, it's also important that the wet lab incubator has a surrounding community of innovation from which to tap into. By being surrounded by like minded peers and mentors, startups can learn from them while also innovating with them and gaining support when necessary. The presence of a surrounding community of innovation creates an ecosystem that promotes and fosters continued innovation.
For instance, wet lab incubators located near a research university, like the University of California in Irvine, will be able to provide startups within the incubator with top-tier resources and information from the university itself. This could be essential to the eventual success of a startup, which is why the location of your incubator of choice is very important.
Choosing the Right Wet Lab Incubator for Your Startup
Startups especially in the medtech and biotech fields need to have vital business and laboratory resources available to help launch their company. With the proper equipment, community, and resources, your startup is a step ahead of the competition and will likely increase your chances of success!
However, the key is to find the right incubator for your startup company. It is imperative to identify a wet lab incubator that has the resources, amenities, and equipment for your current and future needs.
If you’re looking for more information about wet labs in general, be sure to check out our wet lab guide. And, If you're looking for a wet lab incubator in Orange County, be sure to check out University Lab Partners located at the University of California, Irvine Research Park -- apply today or contact us with any questions you may have!
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