Greater Denver: An Emerging Leader in Life Sciences

According to CBRE, the area encompassing Denver and Boulder now ranks as the 10th largest U.S. life sciences market in terms of the square footage of lab space. Demand for lab space in Metro Denver increased nearly 90% from 2020 to 2021. As vacancy sits well below the national average, Fitzsimons Innovation Community is poised to help meet the demand.

By: Fitzsimons Innovation Community and CBRE

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 put a spotlight on the life sciences industry, yet in reality the sector was already quietly becoming a powerhouse, with Metro Denver emerging as a major player.

Funding for U.S. life sciences companies is at an all-time high. The industry received $10 billion in venture capital in the first quarter of 2021, 60% above the previous high set one quarter earlier, according to the PwC Moneytree Explorer survey. With record funding in play, life sciences employment is rising faster than any other U.S. industry, including tech.

In Colorado, life sciences companies raised a record $704 million from public, private, and federal sources in the first quarter of 2021. The area encompassing Denver and Boulder now ranks as the 10th largest U.S. life sciences market in terms of square footage of lab space, according to CBRE’s mid-year 2021 life sciences report. Demand for lab space in Metro Denver has increased nearly 90% since last fall. There are more than 30 life sciences companies searching for a cumulative 1.6 million square feet of lab space in the Denver and Boulder area, where vacancy stands at just 3.8%, well below the national average of 5.6%.

Poised to help meet this demand is the Fitzsimons Innovation Community. This project and the adjacent University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus make up one of the largest bioscience developments in the nation. Fitzsimons Innovation Community just launched its fifth building this summer, being built speculatively to accommodate a range of functions including lab, office, distribution, and manufacturing. Construction is expected to complete in the third quarter of 2022.

Timing is important as there’s a speed-to-market urgency in biotech. When a company receives funding, it’s critical they get quick access to the space they need to develop their product and grow their operations. A place like Fitzsimons Innovation Community with existing conditioned space and infrastructure in place to specifically support life sciences companies provides a competitive advantage. A company can move into Fitzsimons without needing to invest significant capital in outfitting the space–and, with 125 acres available for additional development, companies have the flexibility to grow their existing footprint in the future.

Equally important to life sciences companies is knowledge sharing. Fitzsimons Innovation Community is already home to more than 80 startups and established life sciences companies. It is also adjacent to the clinicians, researchers, and talent pipeline at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, home to Children’s Hospital Colorado, UCHealth, and the new VA Hospital. This brain trust fuels innovation and provides a reliable recruiting network.

Across the Fitzsimons campus, community space is available for hosting networking, educational, and training events. These spaces facilitate connections between Community members and key industry leaders. The Community also offers access to shared scientific equipment, administrative services, conference rooms, tenant lounges, cafés, and lab space, alleviating the need for individual companies to make significant investments in these services.

Fitzsimons Innovation Community has an incubator building as well as graduate space available on-site to nurture startups and is one of the only developments of its kind to offer a capital arm. The CU Healthcare Innovation Fund is a strategic healthcare-focused venture capital firm affiliated with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. It invests in ventures across the healthcare spectrum, including healthcare IT, tech-enabled services, and select high-potential medical device and pharmaceutical technologies.

There are few developments across the U.S. that can compare to Fitzsimons Innovation Community in their ability to meet the unique needs of life sciences companies. Combining some of the best lab and office space in the nation with access to funding and top-tier talent, Metro Denver is cementing its position as a life sciences industry leader.