Lilly to build new pearly Gate(way) in sunny San Diego as third accelerator site selected

Eli Lilly’s recent growth has been evident in all corners of the business: from its value and size through to its long-term ambitions. The company’s physical footprint has also expanded and is continuing to do so.

The Indianapolis-based pharma will set up another Gateway Labs location in San Diego, according to an announcement Tuesday, with plans to open in the first half of 2024. It’s the third such location, joining sites in San Francisco and Boston. 

The Gateway Labs are co-working spaces for researchers that also act like accelerators. Lilly says that companies or researchers that lease space have the opportunity to collaborate on mutually beneficial research and tap into the company’s expertise.

Companies that use the space will also “have the potential for” financial investment from Lilly, it pointed out. The new facility will be 62,000 square feet, enough to hold about 10 companies and 120 biotech and Lilly employees. 

“The expansion of our Gateway Labs model will grant scientists access to Lilly's research operations, mentorship and expertise in an environment made to foster scientific breakthroughs,” Julie Gilmore, Ph.D., VP and global head of Gateway Labs, said in the release.  

The San Francisco outpost, which is spread across two locations, houses a total of 15 companies that have raised a combined total of $1 billion while working out of the labs since 2019. These companies are working on more than 20 combined platforms and therapies, Lilly said.

The Boston-based Gateway Labs will be based in Lilly’s Institute for Genetic Medicines, which is set to open next year. The institute has been the focal point of Lilly’s recent real estate foray, set to be a fixture in Boston’s Seaport district. The site is slated to be more than five times the size of the new Gateway Labs space in San Diego, at roughly 334,000 square feet.

Lilly recently disclosed that it plans to hire twice as many people as originally expected, with the Boston facility able to accommodate 500 of the Big Pharma's employees.