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)(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.

"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.