Mispro Biotech Services is a contract vivarium organization (CVO) that operates a network of full-service coworking vivarium facilities in all major U.S. and Canadian biotech hubs where emerging and established biopharma companies can conduct and control their own in vivo studies. Along with offering access to state-of-the-art vivarium research space, Mispro supports its clients with comprehensive animal care and regulatory compliance oversight services. Along with its facility in Kendall Square in Cambridge, MA, a second facility will open in Fall 2021, at Alewife.
Big4Bio Editor, Marie Daghlian, recently spoke with Mispro Vice President of Commercial Operations and Strategic Development Yohan Tessier about the growth of contract vivarium services, how Mispro is managing increased demand, and why the company chose Alewife to support the growing life sciences sector in the Greater Boston area.
B4B: The contract vivarium (CV) model is rapidly gaining momentum in the life sciences space. How is Mispro planning to support increased demand?
Yohan: Well, that is very true, and good to hear. I can’t say it hasn’t been without any effort. We’ve worked hard to raise awareness in the industry for the CV model, but we’re not totally there yet. There is still a percentage of people in the drug development ecosystem who are not aware that there is an option to rent space in a full-service vivarium facility where you can conduct and control your own studies. But we’re getting there. Certainly, the similarities and synergies of the CV model with biotech incubators is something that both scientists as well as VC’s can relate to, with both models offering coworking research space with low-barrier-to-entry economics and flexibility to scale. We have found this to be an effective story to tell in our efforts to raise awareness and educate the market about the CV model.
As far as anticipating increased demand for contract vivarium space, our growth strategy is driven by diligent research of market potential and development opportunities, and we are well-positioned to scale with increased demand in the market. We will be expanding with additional facilities in all of the major bio markets we are currently serving – New York, RTP, South San Francisco – and we have just announced expansion in Cambridge with a new facility in Alewife opening this fall. We are also planning to open facilities in high-potential sub-clusters in the United States, and we continue to work closely with life sciences development firms to place facilities in their biopark campuses, which can be a strong amenity to attract life science tenants to their campus. In short, growth of the CV model is both something we’re driving, as well as responding to.
B4B: What kind of companies do you typically see in Mispro facilities, and how do you manage the support of multiple clients at various stages of development and areas of focus?
Yohan: Well, we see an array of companies, everything from two-person startups, to mature biotechs, and even big pharma. And a lot of spin-offs from academia. Certainly, though, our easy access and science-focused model is most valuable to small and mid-size biotechs as we enable them to achieve their milestones quickly and at an affordable cost. We put in the extra effort up-front when onboarding our clients to make sure that our operational and compliance support will ensure the greatest success for their animal studies, which enables them to fully focus on their science. In addition, we recently developed a breakthrough approach to in vivo technical services that offers qualified support for clients who need additional help with certain aspects of their studies, from surgical support to breeding and colony management. Our greatest success is when we get feedback from our clients that what was promised with the contract vivarium model was in fact delivered, and the success they’ve had with their studies can very much be attributed to Mispro’s research environment and services.
B4B: Mispro is opening a second facility in Cambridge where life sciences infrastructure is expanding out in every direction from Kendall Square. Why did you choose Alewife for your new location?
Yohan: We’ve been in Kendall Square since 2014 and we’ve seen the area grow to what is now at almost capacity. Of course, it is still the most desired location for biotech and pharma companies, but with space at a premium, emerging companies have difficulty accessing the square footage they need for lab and office space. Naturally, when growth like this happens to any area, development will expand out like spokes from a hub to adjacent areas where there is plenty of space to build or rehab, and which offer friendlier economics for both developers and tenants. Consequently, biopharma companies no longer feel they absolutely need to be in Kendall Square.
Our expansion to Alewife was based on proximity, accessibility, and potential. The CambridgePark campus, where our facility will be, and the Alewife area, in general, is bustling with life science companies and life sciences development. We know from our experience in Kendall Square, as well as our other locations, that our clients need to be close to their lab and office space. So, we chose a location that fits those criteria. Another strong factor in choosing Alewife is accessibility from the T rail line. We’re literally steps from the Red Line T stop, which means we’re minutes from Kendall Square, MIT, and Harvard, which is where many of our clients and the next generation of companies are based or developing.
The CambridgePark Drive location also offers us the opportunity to build a brand-new facility that can support the varying needs of companies at different stages of development and funding. We’ve focused on flexible and private space options, and we’re offering an incredibly affordable price structure that we think will serve as a catalyst for companies to choose the CV option for their in vivo program rather than outsource it.
Needless to say, we are extremely excited to open in Alewife and have the opportunity to serve, as well as help grow, such a promising sub-cluster.