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Alexandria Real Estate pushes forward with Agtech campus expansion in RTP

By Lauren K. Ohnesorge

California real estate developer Alexandria Real Estate Equities is getting ready to start the next phase of its massive plant science campus in Research Triangle Park.

While chairman and founder Joel Marcus won’t release the tenant list of the new Alexandria Center for AgTech, he says phase 1 of the campus – located at the old Syngenta research operation – is signed on for 100 percent occupancy.

“We’ve been able to recruit great companies to the Triangle,” he says.

And seed-stage companies will be featured prominently, as Alexandria is bringing something unique to the park: Alexandria AgTech LaunchLabs.

“It’s the first one, I think, in the country, where we’ll have small individual spaces,” he says. Marcus doesn’t call it “co-working,” though both individuals and early-stage startups will be working out of the space. It’s exclusively for agriculture technology-related entrepreneurs and companies.

“No one has ever really done this before,” he says, noting other regions – from northern California to plant science hub St. Louis – tried to recruit the LaunchLabs. “But we decided we would stick with RTP.”

The labs, which launch in December, will include shared laboratory and greenhouse resources – the caliber of which are typically reserved for larger, well-financed companies, he says.

“What it is is very affordable, prebuilt space that helps really early seed stage companies to proof of concept,” he says. “And there’s a full service to really help them.”

Alexandria has not yet released the pricing model for the LaunchLabs, but similar space targeted for general life sciences in New York starts at under $2,000 per month, he says.

“It will be highly affordable,” he adds of the Labs, which will have room for between 18 and 24 entrepreneurs.

Marcus says it all translates into opportunity for the new agtech campus.

“It even reinforces way more than it did before, the need for early stage ag companies to really pave the way,” he says.

As for the greater agtech campus, phase 2 could break ground as early as next year. He imagines it mirroring the campus his team recently renovated, which has state-of-the-art greenhouse space and collaborative spaces, such as a café.

The tenants are emerging and mid-size firms, he says, noting that “big companies” aren’t part of the game plan.

“We may end up getting small outposts of companies … but our goal isn’t to just lease to a big company and be a financial rent collector,” he says, noting it’s more about creating an “ecosystem.”

Article Source: Triangle Business Journal