issue Summer 2023

IRP Update: More Than 10 New Wet Lab Spaces Available Following $4 Million Buildout

Newly finished wet lab space in the IRP.

A successful collaboration between RFU and the state of Illinois was completed in May with final buildout of 14,000 square feet of wet lab space for bioscience-industry occupancy in the Innovation and Research Park (IRP).

The improvements encompass 8,000 square feet — two labs of approximately 4,000 square feet each — on the IRP’s first floor and 6,000 square feet divided into nine individual labs on the second floor. RFU has recruited the real estate brokerage firm Avison Young to help attract life science industry tenants.

The work was completed in partnership with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) under the state’s Wet Lab Capital Program — designed to expand private wet lab research infrastructure for the state’s growing bioscience industry. The university was awarded $2 million in matching Rebuild Illinois funds in October 2021.

The buildout — which includes installation of chemical fume hoods, biosafety cabinets and emergency back-up power — was hailed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker as a boost for the region and the state.

“Here in Illinois, we are proud to be a hub for biosciences, technology and innovation — and one of the many ways we are pushing our rapidly-expanding industry forward is through our Rebuild Illinois Wet Lab Capital Program,” he said. “Congratulations to the entire RFU team — I can’t wait to see all that they will accomplish.”

“We’re creating an environment where academic and industry scientists can work together to solve complex health challenges,” said RFU President and CEO Dr. Wendy Rheault. “We’re grateful for state resources that encourage investment and drive innovation.”

RFU completed its 100,000-square-foot IRP in December 2019 and began the relocation of six disease-based research centers and more than 100 scientists into 68,000 square feet of that space in January 2020. The remainder of the space was designated for industry partners. RFU next built out an additional 7,000 square feet for the biotech company Air Answers.

The IRP also houses eight conference rooms, and autoclave/glass wash and lab ice machines on each floor. The entry floor includes the Harris Collaboration Hub, which recently reopened its Grab N Go Cafe.

RFU’s home base of Lake County, Illinois, contains more than 122 life-science companies and 33,000 life-science jobs. In April, RFU hosted Bisnow’s Lake County Life Sciences Real Estate Summit at the IRP, and part of the discussion centered on the Chicago region’s move into the CBRE’s1 top 10 life-science employment clusters in the U.S.

“Lake County and Chicagoland have long suffered from an acute shortage of wet lab research space,” said RFU Executive Vice President for Research Ronald S. Kaplan, PhD. “The DCEO has helped bridge the gap so that Illinois life science companies can continue to attract investment.”