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When you are beginning to look at an office and laboratory real estate it can be hard knowing exactly what you’re looking for. There are different types of office and lab properties and they can be difficult to compare and understand if you’re new to commercial real estate. We’ve put together the below guide to decode the jargon and help you navigate the property marketing to find your ideal laboratory and workspace requirement.
An office fitted out to CAT A standard will provide the basic level of finish and often are finished to a quite industrial standard. As defined by the British Council for Offices (BCO), a CAT A office specification generally comprises, an AC system, raised floor (with carpets or allowance for carpets), suspended ceilings with lighting and plastered and painted perimeter walls. Generally they are fitted out to be functioning enough for a landlord to lease, leaving a blank canvas for tenants to make their own design and finishes installations to.
Some call it CAT A+, enhanced CAT A, flex, or managed office space. Whatever the term used, it is referencing office space that is intended to work for the tenant, instead of the tenant working to tailor their needs to the office space. These kinds of spaces have a higher level of finish than CAT A style space and most often comprise of a contemporary level of fit out including floor and wall finishes, tea points, offices and meeting rooms, power, data and some basic furnishings to create a more “plug and play” style space.
Often finished in a modern, minimalist aesthetic some tenants may choose to move in and occupy the space as is, while others may choose to make a few finishing touches of their own, perhaps installing branded signage elements within the space or changing paint colours to suit their organisation. Ultimately CAT A+ spaces are designed with multiple tenants in mind, each who want simplicity, flexibility and speed in their uptake of the workspace at hand.
CAT B or ‘Turnkey’ office space is the next level up from CAT A+ and embodies a much larger scope of works. CAT B offices are fitted out with a completely bespoke level of finish, tailored to the specific needs of a tenant who wants to move into a high quality and design-drive workspace. There’s a lot of work that goes into transforming the blank canvas of a CAT A fit out into a functioning Cat B space and a tailored CAT space should also reflect your brand and work ethos; including furniture and custom design elements that embody your organisational personality.
This isn’t just about choosing desks and furniture, but about ensuring that your office is somewhere that your employees will love to work, ultimately helping you to attract and retain the best talent in the Life Sciences industry. A CAT B fit out would typically include specialists facilities such as fully fitted out kitchens and communal office amenities, completely bespoke laboratory space developed specifically to your scientific development needs, meeting rooms, offices and break out spaces, workstations and furniture, power, data and IT, feature lighting as well as design and brand detailing.
Lab enabled office space is a more recent term to come to market, given the current increase in demand for Laboratory space against significant reduction in demand for conventional office space mainly due the impact of COVID-19, many landlords are looking to reposition their existing stock and/or reconsider how their development pipeline is delivered. With speed and efficiency at the core to get therapies to market faster than ever, lab reconfigurations have to happen faster than ever too.
Offering lab’ enabled space offers best of both worlds for the Landlord as typically the building is still finished to the intended specification (CAT A) but consideration has been given to how the space could be developed as a laboratory. They may have done works to create a larger slab to slab height in order to create space for enhanced services, moveable work benches, enhanced power and data for high tech laboratory requirements, enhanced HVAC system to increase the number of air changes per hour or included space for external bottle store for gasses. Ultimately the space has been altered by the landlord to allow you to make your own laboratory fit out quicker.
Lab enabled spaces are creating a catalyst for change in office and laboratory real estate for the Life Sciences sector. Where previously designing and refurbishing pharmaceutical or biotech lab type spaces to develop new or improved remedies was time-consuming and expensive, lab-enabled spaces offer greater flexibility to Life Science sector tenants and enable lab reconfigurations to happen on quicker timelines.
These are generally fully fitted laboratories ready to move into and are available to rent on an all-inclusive basis on flexible short to medium term arrangements. Space can be offered from just a bench in a shared laboratory to small self-contained rooms. Most will provide basic equipment and consumables, and flexible components such as adjustable benches and sinks, the basic necessities such as eye wash stations, fume and flow hoods and optimised mechanical ventilation in their modern laboratory space, as well as often having meeting rooms, or offices available within the same premises to help companies and start-ups take the first step on their journey toward becoming the next innovator. Many offer their clients the ability to share equipment or specialist service options with others creating further cost savings for tenants.
Incubators are often found at universities intended to host the transition from academic institution to industry. Equally these types of spaces are all about giving life sciences companies the edge in a highly competitive market, and hence are often placed in close proximity with other research institutions. However, they are often few and far between and it can be exceptionally difficult to secure space given the excessive demand for office and laboratory real estate.
AIS can help you navigate the types of office and laboratory real estate available to the Life Sciences sector and advise on the anticipated risk, opportunities and cost of fitting out the various options mentioned above. Explore our Real Estate and Property Services or contact one of our team today to discuss your project requirements.