Astellas to help build out new LabCentral biomanufacturing incubator with $13M

A rendering of LabCentral's new 100,000-square-foot incubator at 238 Main St. (LabCentral/Encore and Perkins+Will)

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech incubator LabCentral is scaling up its biomanufacturing capabilities with plans for a new 100,000-square-foot facility and nearly $13 million in investments from Astellas Pharma.

The new location at 238 Main St. aims to support startups as they develop their production processes ahead of full-scale manufacturing, including for cell and gene therapies. Dubbed LabCentral 238, it is slated to open in fall 2021 with space for about 20 venture-backed companies employing about 300 people, according to a report from The Boston Globe.

Astellas, which operates its own sites in Cambridge and nearby Marlborough, will serve as LabCentral 238’s first private founding sponsor with a $12.5 million investment to help launch a new incubator at the facility. The Japanese pharma also announced it would give at least $450,000 over three years to LabCentral’s other incubator down the road at 700 Main St.

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"Our presence in the greater Boston area comprises over 200 professionals across several locations driving innovation in regenerative medicine, immuno-oncology, mitochondrial function, genetic regulation and beyond,” Astellas President and CEO Kenji Yasukawa said in a statement.

“Accelerating early-stage scientific innovation in areas such as cell and gene therapy is a strategic focus for Astellas, and is superbly aligned with the mission of LabCentral to serve as a launching-pad for cutting-edge biotech and life sciences startups,” Yasukawa said.

The new incubator is also supported by the Massachusetts Life Science Center and received a $5 million grant from the state to help outfit the space with laboratory equipment and bioreactors.

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“Since our launch in 2013, LabCentral has been a very successful example of a public-private partnership that created an economic and scientific engine driving the biotech industry and economy in Massachusetts,” said LabCentral’s co-founder and president Johannes Fruehauf.

“LabCentral 238 builds on this success to now give start-ups access to high quality bio-manufacturing facilities to start their process development activities earlier, while also making connections with Massachusetts contract bio-manufacturing companies and creating a bio-manufacturing workforce development program to expand biotech jobs in Massachusetts,” Fruehauf said.

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