6 Things to Know to Start a Laboratory Business

Timing is Everything

Take advantage of new research and testing opportunities, created by the Covid pandemic. Make sure to address all the difficult questions that come with creating a start-up lab in a detailed business plan before investing in human capital and spending lots of money on older technology. By affording yourself the time to manifest a good business case for your laboratory you will give yourself and those who choose to work with and invest in your company confidence in your ability to turn a profit. Here are six things you need to know to start a laboratory business.

One: Know and Understand Who Your Customer is First

Laboratories can test for many things from crime-scene forensics to biopsy results so you will have to identify what products and services your laboratory will offer to prospective customers in the marketplace. Your customers may be insurance companies, police detectives, Covid 19 patients or even U.S. government programs like NASA so it is important to understand your customer’s needs to make sure you purchase the right cutting edge technology and equipment for the services they will be requesting on a regular basis. Keep in mind that you will also have to treat shareholders in your laboratory business as customers too. Angel investors and Venture Capital firms will be monitoring whether or not you deliver on promises made on product and service deliveries as well as laboratory project milestones. Therefore, it is important not to forget that investors are your customer as well considering that the current Covid pandemic has shifted demand across many sectors of the economy, including the lab sector, which will undoubtedly make it more difficult to calculate the economic models and investment calculations that will be expected from you by shareholders periodically.

Two: Identify Viable Funding Sources for Your Lab

As your laboratory grows, you must continue to find funding sources including angel investors or a venture capital fund which invests in pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical technologies, and healthcare services. Currently, demand for Covid virus, vaccine trials testing and clinical healthcare testing is way up. On the other hand, petroleum well testing and lab test demand in other areas is stagnant, if not way down. Therefore, it is critical that startup labs identify viable funding sources to support the business after the company’s initial funding runs out. This is often done by obtaining multi-phase government research grants, pursuing direct sales opportunities, such as direct sales of home testing kits sold to consumers over the internet or as is most highly suggested by experts in the field, signing long-term customer contracts.

Three: Control Costs and Justify Expenditures

Some lab startups may benefit from local startup accelerators that offer shared workspaces or incubator facilities which run their own programs and provide opportunities for resident entrepreneurs to display their technology to funding sources. Keep in mind that it is often more expensive for a start-up laboratory to lease commercial space with existing lab facilities than it is to establish a lab in an incubator facility. Other cost-effective solutions include efficient storage, sturdy, affordable healthcare center seating and flexible furniture options such as mobile carts that can help you get the most use out of your available square footage while at the same time maximizing your return on investment. The furniture and equipment you choose is important as it will impact the quality of work done in your lab. You want to make sure that you choose an established online healthcare furniture supplier that specializes in the supply of laboratory seating and furniture to hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Make sure to purchase chairs and furniture with antibacterial, anti-microbial and wipe-clean finishes.

Four: Selecting Your Lab Space

Many states make dedicated incubator facilities with plug-in-ready wet and dry laboratory modules including hoods and sinks and office space, including offices and suites, conference rooms and shared bathroom and eating areas to assist with commercializing critical technologies while creating jobs to strengthen local economies. If you wish to start from scratch and build your own laboratory from the ground up realize it will be much more expensive. For major commercial construction Consult with professionals for complete design, commercial construction, renovation and facility operations information.

Five: Create a Flexible Lab Design

Make sure not to create a lab that becomes obsolete in ten years by keeping your ear to the ground regarding new technology. Laboratory equipment changes yearly and experimental methods evolve rapidly so stay sharp. Realize that computer-based scientific discovery methods are becoming one of the dominant forces in laboratory science so make sure to hire qualified personnel that can adapt to the changes. Design flexibility into your lab so that you can make changes over time without creating costly interruptions caused by extensive renovation projects.

Six: Know Which Regulatory Regime Will Govern Your Lab

Be aware that laboratory facilities are highly regulated, often falling under one or more regulatory regimes that are either mandated by government agencies or set forth by industry trade groups that issue “certifications.” The intended use of your laboratory will determine which sets of regulations or certification guidelines apply. Keep in mind that laboratories designed to handle potentially dangerous materials are subject to even more stringent regulations.

Research Market Demand and Identify New Lab Technologies

In conclusion, it is safe to say that serving unmet demand in the marketplace will enable you to compete with and maybe even displace other laboratories that have failed to innovate and are using antiquated equipment. Make sure to back up your business plan for stakeholders with solid market and technical research as well. Understanding the global community’s necessity for your new venture into the laboratory business will ultimately help you avoid wasting valuable time and resources. Remember that commercial laboratories with a recurring revenue stream must also be prepared to answer questions about funding sources and return on investment. Finally realize that start-up labs that choose to become fully diversified companies must build substantial expertise in many disciplines in order to succeed which will demand a significant amount of time and resources.

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January 26th, 2023
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