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Innovation Space signs on with international broker

Katie Tabeling
The Innovation Space inside the Dupont Experimental Station has contracted with JLL to expand marketing efforts with startup science-based companies.

The Innovation Space inside the Dupont Experimental Station has contracted with JLL to expanding marketing efforts. | DBT PHOTO BY JACOB OWENS

WILMINGTON — In a move to market itself to rising tech and science-based startups, the Innovation Space at the Dupont Experimental Station has signed on with international broker JLL to land the next cycle of start-ups.

The exclusive agreement for the “start-up farm” comes at a time when Prelude Therapeutics is preparing to leave the Dupont Experimental Station for its new space, leaving 45,000 square feet of lab and associated office space open for companies. This is the first time the Innovation Space has signed with a broker.

Innovation Space President and CEO Bill Provine told the Delaware Business Times that while the entity works with a collection of partners to connect with early-stage and growing companies, JLL’s international reach can boost its marketability.

JLL is a Fortune 500 company that has offices in 80 countries with 103,000 employees.

“We always want to maximize the number of startups that we see and evaluate as a potential fit with our ecosystem,” Provine told DBT. “JLL has a strong internal network to support us with leads to new clients as well as a strong relationship with other brokers who are also supporting startups in their search for the right home to grow their companies.”

“Our partnership will enhance and increase the volume of clients that we will see over time, especially those scaling their companies to the next level,” he continued.

JLL has gotten to know Provine and the Innovation Space over the years, primarily through JLL’s work with Dupont, according to  Blaise Fletcher, Managing Director for JLL. However, discussions on the partnership started earlier this year, mainly focused on Prelude impending departure from the site.

“We hit the ground running earlier this summer, and have already had some early successes together,” Fletcher told DBT. “We have immense respect for both the physical space and ecosystem they’ve [the Innovation Space] been able to build since 2017. They have always done an phenomenal job attracting start-ups and early stage companies, and we’ll continue to support those efforts.”

In the past, mid-sized startups have worked with real estate brokers before the Innovation Space had an opportunity to first build a relationship. But to broaden that interest, the incubator will compensate brokers for potential companies.

With 130,000 square feet of lab and office space, the Innovation Space focuses on startups in health care, advanced materials and manufacturing, climate tech, agriculture and nutrition. 

“These are the types of companies where Delaware has a true right to win and has grown world-leading companies like this in our ecosystem for years – companies like DuPont, Gore, Incyte, Chemours, Agilent, Solenis and others,” Provine said.

Since 2017, the Innovation Space has supported 100 start-ups that have raised at least $800 million in funding. Inspired by incubators like JLABS, a life sciences incubator run by pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, the Innovation Space received buy-in from DuPont, University of Delaware and the state to make it a reality.

Fletcher said that JLL plans on expanding the Innovation Space’s reach beyond Delaware by leveraging the firm’s National Life Sciences platform. Marketing has started at traditional outlets, but he added that they’re connecting directly with end-users and consultants to “convey the value the Innovation Space can bring to their companies and clients.”

“We’ve tried to look at the big picture: ‘Why Delaware?’,” Fletcher said. “[We] also clearly outline the types of research space we have available.  There’s no substitute for physically seeing the facilities and shared equipment, though, so we’re scheduling in-person tours on a weekly basis. ”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from JLL.

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