BioLabs sees its first successful relocation with drug discovery biotech company Aakha Biologics, which left the temporary incubator space after two months for a permanent headquarters in Frisco, Texas.
BioLabs’ 37,000-square-foot facility at Pegasus Park is its first location in the central U.S. It was built to provide biotech and life sciences companies with the tools they need to relocate to the Dallas-Fort Worth area — and then stay here.
Aakha is the first company to successfully outgrow the BioLabs incubator, indicating that the facility’s mission of seeding Dallas’ life sciences ecosystem may yield promising results.
Hemanta Baruah developed the idea for Aakha Biologics, and during his time with BioLabs, the company progressed from discovering antibodies to target cancer cells to identifying promising candidates for further study. “I had this idea, my family was here, and I love Dallas,” Baruah said. “It was a coincidence that at that time, BioLabs was starting here, and so I decided that’s the right moment to join.”
Now in a permanent space, Aakha has four employees, including Baruah. It seeks to create bispecific antibodies that can bind to two different cancer targets simultaneously, explore the antibodies’ usefulness in animal studies, and ideally move forward with human testing by the end of 2025.
As for BioLabs, it is “retaining and attracting talent to the region and … growing jobs in the region,” said Gabby Everett, site director for BioLabs at Pegasus Park. “And then also, it’s a success story as far as building biotech.”
According to the CBRE’s 2022 Life Sciences Research Talen Report, the Dallas-Fort Worth area was identified as an “emerging cluster of research talent” in the life sciences with “unusually rapid growth” between 2015 and 2020. Chelsea Story, a CBRE (Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis) senior associate, said the DFW area has been able to attract biotech research talent but has struggled to find space to house growing companies. “BioLabs has served a need that Dallas has always had in terms of life sciences, which is: Our market doesn’t have readily available lab space,” Story said.
Story believes BioLabs’ success with providing lab space in Dallas may lead to a push for similar spaces in the DFW area. “In my opinion, they’ve spurred attention to the need for that type of space,” Story said. “And I think that other developers will rise to that occasion.”
Everett is optimistic that Aakha’s permanent relocation will be the first of many from BioLabs at Pegasus Park. “They are our first success story,” said Everett. “And we hope to have many other success stories like that.”
Pegasus Park is a 25-acre, 750,000-square-foot lab and office campus developed by J. Small Investments and Montgomery Street Partners in partnership with Lyda Hill Philanthropies.