By Dave Clifton
Biotech companies have long been on the cutting edge of several key industries—healthcare, pharmaceuticals, and even the food and beverage sector. Biotech is an industry rooted in innovation, and accomplishing big things on an often-small budget. For many companies in this space, facilities set the tone for innovation, yet also represent significant overhead. It’s why so many biotechnology companies have begun exploring the benefits of better biotech space utilization.
The concept of space utilization is one that’s proven across many industries. For biotech companies, however, it’s often novel. The reason? All energy and effort go into being mission-focused. Facilities are often an afterthought: the backdrop to the company’s imperatives. Many biotechs realize the importance of facilities, but don’t invest in them beyond what it takes to facilitate the science.
The high cost of facilities is pushing more and more biotech companies to see facilities themselves as an investment. Space utilization has the power to reduce costs, improve workflows, facilitate efficiency, and lengthen the runway of a biotech’s innovative work. Here’s how.
What is biotech space utilization?
Space utilization for biotech companies is all about maximizing facilities to drive productivity and results. How are you using 6,000sq/ft of lab space efficiently? How many of your 40 sales desks sit occupied vs. unoccupied? The goal is to not only use the space you’re paying for, but to use it effectively to drive results for the company.
To use space effectively takes two parts. First, the company needs to know how much space it has. Second, it needs a firm understanding of what operational demands require more space. For example, if you have 40 sales desks, but only staff 30 salespeople, that’s a 25% rate of unused space—space the company pays for, that effectively generates no ROI. Finding a productive way to utilize space can create ROI, which is paramount for biotech companies already striving to keep operations lean.
The benefits of space utilization for the biotech industry
Space is an asset for biotechs, and making the most of it is an integral part in keeping the business running efficiently. The ability of a biotech company to understand its spatial needs and optimize available space around them translates into a bevy of benefits that keep it lean and agile. Some of the biggest benefits of space utilization for the biotech industry include:
- More efficient use of facilities, from both cost and operations standpoints
- Better understanding of space allocation and utilization
- Purposeful allocation of space to support the needs of researchers
- Context for broader facilities data such as utilization and occupancy
- Insights and opportunities to repurpose or reallocate space
- Smarter spatial layout of labs and research facilities, to streamline accessibility
Biotechs that do a better job of utilizing their space will find themselves with more efficient operations and fewer operational challenges. More important, space utilization helps them make use of one of their biggest assets: facilities. That means access to lab space, sales offices, executive facilities, research space, and any other workplace necessary in fueling biotech success.
How can biotech space utilization software help?
Utilization is a tough metric to track without software on your side—especially for biotech companies that grow and change constantly. Space utilization software simplifies utilization into dashboard metrics that provide at-a-glance insights. It’s easy to see how what the ROI of space looks like based on simple utilization metrics.
Beyond showing space utilization, biotechs can rely on space utilization software to map out more efficient strategies to correct over- or under-utilized floor plans. There’s no need to rely on guessing—the software provides the utilization insights and space modeling tools show new projections before any physical change is actually made to the workplace. It’s a great way to adjust seating arrangements, space allocation, accessibility, and other workplace features and gauge the effect of those changes without disrupting vital operations.
On top of all this, space utilization shows a rolling metric over time. This is instrumental in understanding how employees use the space as the company evolves and grows. Maybe space trends shift away from research and more to sales after the product launches? Perhaps third-floor space utilization spikes after acquiring a new division? Utilization trends over time lend context to how the company’s growing and how to best-support that growth through facilities.
Spur innovation through better space utilization
Historically, the biotech sector is unforgiving. As many as 90% of drugs and therapies researched by biotechs never make it to market. But that doesn’t mean they’re not viable. In fact, the biggest challenge facing most biotechs is funding—eventually, the runway runs out. The inability to sustain facility costs means biotechs need to close up shop and shelve their innovations.
Space utilization can help biotechnology companies extend their runway by improving the ROI of essential facilities. Paying for less space and making more of it allows biotechs to remain mission-focused and lean, which increases the chance of producing a viable product before funding runs out.
Keep reading: 5 Space Utilization Metrics Every FM Needs to Know