Founded by London-based property developer Steven Marcus, RUNLABS is about to open its first fully equipped, flexible laboratory space for scientists and companies working in the life sciences field in Paris. This will be followed by a second facility in London.

RUNLABS’ central goal is to make science easier by providing a fully serviced laboratory space, in terms of both equipment and staff. In addition, the company views the more flexible working approach as building upon the existing collaborative trend in the life sciences industry and encouraging further cooperative innovation.

CEO Marcus discussed the motivation behind RUNLABS as a concept and choosing London and Paris as the primary sites, as well as explaining how researchers will be supported in and gain from a flexible working space.

Allie Nawrat: What is the core idea behind RUNLABS?

Steven Marcus: RUNLABS is about making science easier; it is a very simple, but powerful mission. The idea came from just noticing the tremendous need in the life sciences community for a more turn-key, easy-to-use solution.

We recognise that life science today is one of the most exciting, dynamic sectors in the world with tremendous growth. We recognise that companies really need simpler, turn-key solutions and they are looking to work in a more collaborative environment.

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All companies have a tremendous priority placed on their time; so our solution is geared at allowing them to maximise their time and lose all the distractions of the day-to-day [so they can] focus on what is most important, the science.

AN: How do you envision RUNLABS will help accelerate collaboration and innovation in the life sciences industry?

SM: Project management is a multi-year and time-consuming task for many companies. We can go out and provide that for them on a ready-to-use basis. It is about providing all of the services, down to your day-to-day media management, rather than you having to source that yourself as an individual company.

We recognise the industry itself is becoming more collaborative; many company’s products are the result of another company’s critical work and companies are sharing ways to win rather than competing against one another.

We are looking to facilitate that and we think the most powerful way of doing that is by bringing them together into a cohesive community.

AN: What type of equipment and support will RUNLABS provide researchers who use the facilities?

SM: RUNLABS is unlike any other lab you have ever seen. It was created for the scientist of today and tomorrow; it will be fully equipped for all the biology you can possibly think of, as well as chemistry and data science, and in terms of staffing, it will be a fully serviced, hospitality led solution.

In terms of design, we have announced we are working in Paris with Maison Sarah Lavoine, which is a very timeless, Parisian designer. We are looking for a similar designer in London. It will look a lot more like the places where people want to work, rather than where they have to work.

It is about creating a working environment that is conducive to helping the scientist create the best research they are capable of.

AN: Why did you choose first Paris and then London as the initial locations?

SM: We have been equally focused on both Paris and London; we see Paris and London as both having world-class talent.

Paris is the historical capital [of the industry] with [world-renowned scientists like] Pasteur and Curie, and today, there is a new emphasis on what they call ‘French Tech’ with the opening of the start-up campus Station F and reforms by the Macron government.

Similarly, in London there is clearly world-class research, some of the most exceptional companies and talent in the world and a strong drive to build this community. The opening of the Crick Institute two years ago was a really big bang for the UK and Western European Life science space.

At our Paris location in the 13th Arrondissement, we are taking some early memberships at the moment and we have our first sign ups.

We will likely start our London membership in the coming few months and we expect [the facility] to be open in early 2020. We haven’t announced our final location, but we expect it to be in the Knowledge Quarter between Fitzrovia and Kings Cross.

There seems to be extremely strong demand in London, which is unsurprising given the high quality of the UK’s golden triangle life sciences’ ecosystem. We are encouraged by the early discussions that we have had and we think we can provide a really exciting solution for dynamic companies.

AN: Are you planning any further sites in addition to London and Paris?

SM: At the moment, I would say we have got our hands full.

We are obviously excited by a number of other markets nearby, but for now we see tremendous demands in London and Paris, and we are actively working to see if we can make science easier in these markets.

Given the demand we wouldn’t be surprised to have further sites in Paris and London.