Boom or Bust? Hughes Marino Exec Examines BioTech’s Next Steps

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( — November 15, 2022) —

The San Diego-based business, Hughes Marino, has specialized in matching clients with biotech lab space to meet the ever-expanding demands of one of the hottest industries. But can that momentum last?

Hughes Marino’s co-founder David Marino says five markets, in particular, have become biotech hot spots:  Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, and Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.

And Marino predicts that the cluster will remain tight-knit.

“We don’t need 20 biotech clusters around the country,” said Marino. “In fact, I would advocate it’s not in the interest of science to have a fragmented industry, because unlike the insurance industry or the legal industry, life science companies recruit a very specific type of person and share more information between companies that you see in any other industries.”

The San Diego market, where Marino and the Hughes Marino team are headquartered, ranks third in the nation for biotech jobs after Boston and San Francisco, reports In 2021, $6.5 billion of venture and corporate capital poured into San Diego, according to Hughes Marino, and more than 4,400,000 square feet of new leases have been signed. The increasing demand for wet lab space called for existing offices and dry lab space to be converted into wet lab facilities. Dry labs are those with a scope of work concentrating on computer-generated models or simulations used for applied or computational mathematical analyses. In contrast, a wet lab is used to analyze and test drugs, chemicals, and biological matter using liquids. 

Marino also mentions that roughly 50% of the “for lease” office space in Sorrento Mesa and Torrey Hills, San Diego, has been snapped up to convert from office space to biotech wet lab space.

Still, that square feet doesn’t come cheap.

The amount of capital you have to put in to build out lab space can cost $250 to $350 a square foot,” Marino said. “And just to put it in comparison, your typical office space might cost, depending where you are, $80 to $120 a square foot. So you’re talking about a step function of three times what it takes to build out lab space versus office space.”

Biotech Is Growing by Leaps and Bounds, Says Hughes Marino Exec 

Despite the biotech sector’s seemingly endless growth trajectory, Marino says he sees the industry’s market size potentially tapering off, thanks to the government, insurance reimbursement, fluctuations in pharmaceutical product consumption, and a shortage of urban areas equipped to develop corporate facilities and attract top talent to fill those jobs.

A 2022 report by one real estate services and investment firm indicates that the number of new graduates with biology and biomedical degrees was over 163,000 in 2020, more than double what it was 15 years ago. Overall, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says employees working in the U.S. life science industry grew by 5.3% from January 2021 to January 2022. 


Marino says local universities have played an important role in proximity to the development of tech hubs. 

“Here, for example, you have the UCSD and you have the Salk Institute [for Biological Studies] and all of the other research institutes around there that have been there for 40, 50 years,” Hughes says. 

He explains how that has attracted a slew of Ph.D.s and Nobel Prize winners that went on to build companies in the area. 

UC Berkeley and Stanford University’s life science programs have also contributed to the biotech frenzy. This summer, Stanford opened Alexandria LaunchLabs – Stanford Research Park, an incubator space. The 92,000-square-foot facility in Stanford Research Park will reinforce bonds between the existing life science network of medical facilities, researchers, and companies in the surrounding area, while also diversifying the life science community near the Stanford campus. “If we really want to drive advances in biomedicine, we need every part of the ecosystem to work together,” Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne says on ugh

Chaitan Khosla, a Stanford chemistry professor, says the creation of LaunchLabs is a good indicator of what Stanford Research Park will look like in 10 years. “Having this flexible space to facilitate that translation of Stanford’s scientific discoveries into new medicines is central to our mission,” Khosla says on

Lab Space Doesn’t Come Cheap

Because building lab space can be so costly, Marino says that’s why so many biotech companies are betting on previously established life science spaces

“When a landlord makes that kind of investment, they want to know that when that tenant moves out or if that tenant gets acquired and goes out of business, they want to know what’s going to happen next, when that space comes back, and that there’s going to be a demand for it,” Marino said.

Since landlords tend to invest in areas where there’s already a solid demand, he says it only makes existing markets stronger over time. Hughes Marino has long been a purveyor of leasing and building tech industry lab space. 

Hughes Marino expanded its own fleet of offices this year, opening an office in Raleigh-Durham. North Carolina’s Research Triangle region is now becoming known as the nation’s fourth-leading tech portal. 

“The medicines being manufactured in Research Triangle Park are cutting edge,” Annalee Armstrong says in a article. “Novartis just got clearance in April to begin producing its spinal muscular atrophy gene therapy Zolgensma there. The company has a 170,000-square-foot plant already waiting to start cranking out the gene therapy.” Roughly 10.6 million square feet of commercial bioscience lab space already exists in the Raleigh-Durham area, states, and that number is only expected to grow.

While Denver, Dallas, and Minneapolis are reportedly getting a jolt from the biotech sphere, Nashville, Tennessee; Columbus, Ohio; and Salt Lake City are also making a splash in life science


Salt Lake City is hosting the BioHive Summit on Nov. 10 during which a who’s who of BioTech willl present, including Seek Labs CEO Jared Bauer and Michaela Hatch, a scientist at Recursion Pharmaceuticals. In April, Perfect Day Inc., occupied a 60,000-square-foot space in Salt Lake City. The world’s first animal-free milk protein brand is one of several initiatives slated to grow the city’s biotech and life science footprint.