Starting from scratch: How do you build a world-class research lab?
By: JOHN TIMMER
What does it cost to build a research center from scratch these days? Gerry Rubin, who runs the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Research Campus in Virginia, estimated that his organization will spend a few billion dollars before it’s clear if HHMI’s research will work out. Ken Herd, who helped set up GE’s new research center in Rio de Janeiro, said the building alone carried a $150 million bill.
But a steep pricetag is merely the start. While securing funds is a massive initial barrier for any new facility, a modern world-class lab also needs the right combination of appeal for researchers, planning, and flexibility for when said planning doesn’t work out. And on top of that, would-be lab builders better start out with a lot of institutional support.