New Whitepaper Proposes Flexibility, Technology, and Innovation to Extend Lifespan of Biopharmaceutical Facilities

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“Rx for Change: The Flexible Biopharma Facility of the Future," the latest whitepaper to be released by IAMC and SIOR in the DesignFlex2030 initiative, delves into technological and design innovations for future biopharmaceutical facilities.

The distinctive design proposed in this new whitepaper will allow future life sciences facilities to morph into whatever size or form is needed and no longer become obsolete after 15-20 years.

The Industrial Asset Management Council (IAMC) and the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) have released their second whitepaper in the DesignFlex2030 initiative titled “Rx for Change: The Flexible Biopharma Facility of the Future.” The paper outlines creative and practical suggestions on how to extend the lifecycle of future biopharmaceutical facilities so they can be repurposed quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively for rapid scale-up and scale-down, technological change, scientific breakthroughs, and process innovation.

The whitepaper addresses the problems with biopharmaceutical facilities that are built for today’s use, with no thought about the future. New life sciences production facilities can cost anywhere from $500 million to upwards of $1 billion. They are typically built around a single product and can’t be easily reconfigured, so they are often unusable after just 15-20 years. Whenever companies bring a new drug to market the process starts over, and they invest millions more in new facilities and equipment. Reselling aging and unwanted pharma real estate represents a challenge to both the owners and economic developers, who may have a hard time attracting new users due to the lack of flexibility.

“The distinctive design proposed in this new whitepaper incorporates the latest thinking in industrial design and workflow efficiency and will help companies attract and retain the highly educated talent they will need to retain their competitive edge going forward,” said Tate Godfrey, Executive Director, IAMC. “Such upgrades will also increase public support and acceptance, enabling a smoother permitting and construction process.”

Key aspects of next-generation design and best practices for future biopharmaceutical facilities include:

  • Expandable and adaptable facility for rapid change-out of equipment as technology or processes change.
  • Easy conversion to other uses, vastly increasing industrial capabilities and upping the resale value.
  • Wide open spaces with few structural columns for total flexibility; allows for ramp up for a single blockbuster drug or ramp down after patent expiration
  • Flexibility to produce in massive quantities or on a small scale.
  • Manufacturing of multiple products at the same time, using both continuous and batch production, depending on what works best.
  • Rapid retooling to meet sudden demand for a vaccine or medicine in the event of an international public health emergency.
  • Pre-fabricated fill-and-finish modules that snap into other modules on site can ship globally to where demand is highest.

“Building life sciences facilities with maximum flexibility will not only allow for a boost in manufacturing efficiency with multiple processes and functions happening under one roof but also lower the risk of cross-contamination and reduce energy costs,” said Todd Mion, Facilities Integration Specialist, Fluor. “It’s exciting to think that the future facilities will be able to morph into whatever size or form is needed and will no longer become obsolete.”

Two acclaimed firms with significant architectural, engineering, industrial process and construction expertise in the biopharma and pharmaceutical sector, Burns & McDonnell and Fluor, lent their top architectural, engineering, and industrial process resources to participate in the project and develop the design concepts.

This is the second DesignFlex2030 paper in the series. The first whitepaper, “Recipe for Change: The Flexible Food Processing Plant of the Future,” offered practical and innovative design solutions that would facilitate ease of repurposing, improve efficiency, increase worker safety, and up the resale value of food processing facilities.

The full study can be found at, and

About DesignFlex2030:
The DesignFlex2030 initiative explores the potential of new design approaches that could lead to more flexible, adaptable, and sustainable facilities in the future. The DesignFlex2030 papers offer recommendations for economic developers and federal, state, and local policy-makers on ways to encourage the construction of more flexible industrial facilities. IAMC, managed by Conway, is the leading association of industrial asset management and corporate real estate executives, their suppliers, service providers and economic developers. SIOR is the leading professional office and industrial real estate association that promotes and funds programs that advance the real estate profession. Cresa, an international corporate real estate advisory firm, contributed a generous sponsorship for this work. For more information, visit

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Lacey Beattie
Conway PR & Marketing
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