5 Questions with Andrew Davis, Vice President at Scheer Partners

“5 Questions With……” is a weekly BioBuzz series where we reach out to interesting people in the BioHealth Capital Region to share a little about themselves, their work, and maybe something completely unrelated. This edition features 5 Questions with Andrew Davis, Vice President at Scheer Partners.

Andrew Davis is Vice President at Scheer Partners and helps run the scientific real estate practice. Andrew lives in Maryland but assists scientific companies to identify, negotiate, and build space in the BioHealth Capital Region, Philadelphia, Greater Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts.

1. Tell us about yourself, your background, your role at Scheer Partners, and how it relates to the life science industry.

I graduated from Hobart College in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in History and Economics and quickly moved to Boston to follow my now wife. Like many, I did not have a clear path on what I wanted to do but I found myself in private banking. Upon my wife getting a promotion that moved her to Washington D.C., I yet again decided to follow her. In writing this, I am noticing a trend…

I have been working with Scheer Partners since April of 2016. For almost 5 years, I have focused exclusively on life science tenant representation and assisting my clients in navigating lab facilities. In August of 2020, I was promoted to Vice President and now assist in running our life science real estate practice and spearhead business development efforts to expand Scheer Partners footprint into growing life science hubs along the East Coast.

2. What makes Scheer Partners unique in the world of commercial real estate and specifically in the scientific space?

Scheer Partners is unique because we have focused on scientific real estate since before it was a defined asset class. 30 years ago, Robert Scheer helped establish one of the first incubators in the region at 19 First Field. From there, we have honed our focus and services to cater to our life science clients. From managing all the county incubators in Maryland to building many of the large corporate campuses we see and know today; we have done and seen it all.

This is a constantly evolving sector. Unlike our larger competitors, we remain small so we can be flexible. Our brokerage team transcends typical market boundaries and can complete transactions for our clients wherever and whenever they need us.

3. What are the most significant differences you see in the regions you are working in? Are there any commonalities between these markets?

At Scheer Partners, I operate in the BioHealth Capital Region (our HQ is in Rockville), Philadelphia, Greater Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. These markets differ in terms of transaction economics and basic market layout, re: urban vs. suburban. A common theme between all is that demand for scientific real estate is high, there are few providers that understand the space, and there is a severe lack of an existing product.   

Scheer Partners has operated in the Biohealth Capital Region (BHCR) for over 30 years. We are the leading brokerage authority for life science real estate in the market. For the past 5 years, demand has steadily increased, resulting in a 10% rise in rental rates year over year. Maryland specifically (Baltimore and the I-270) is at a pivotal inflection point and the market is poised for substantial growth. Over the coming years, we will begin to see more purpose-built lab development which is something that the BHCR needs to compete with the other hubs along the East Coast. Largely composed of suburban lab markets, we will see a push to more urban areas. 

Philadelphia is very exciting. UPenn and the focus on cell and gene therapy has brought substantial and rapid growth to the region. Historically, Philadelphia and Greater PA has been a small molecule market composed of Pharmaceutical campuses and space driven by synthetic chemistry requirements. With the resurgence of cell and gene therapy, we are experiencing a staggering demand for more bio focused real estate, re: wet lab and cGMP manufacturing space. Scheer Partners is currently assisting companies and landlords navigate best ways to convert products to address immediate space needs in a market with several ground up developments coming online in the next 24-36 months.

As we know, Massachusetts is the leading life science market in the world. Venture capital, strong academic tech transfer, and the presence of every leading Pharmaceutical company in the world continues to push the boundaries of life science real estate development. The market moves quickly and space is expensive. There really is not any other market like it in the world.

4. What do you see as the same challenges that all these regions share, and how are you working to address them?

One of the biggest challenges that all life science hubs face is a lack of existing mid-market space. Growing scientific companies that need to exit an incubator following a major milestone need access to existing lab products because 1) they don’t have the appetite or budget to complete an expensive build and 2) they need to immediately begin hiring to progress pipelines to adhere to goals and objectives set forth by capital sources. 

Landlords are always extremely hesitant to build lab space on a speculative basis due to the costs to build and the tenant profiles, re: burn rate rather than gaining revenue. The fact of the matter is if my clients do not have access to space when their IP and employee base is easily transferable to another market, they could easily move. In many cases they do.

I am assisting my clients in many ways to address a lack of mid-market space but, in most cases, I will need to assist my clients in building space. Due to the construction and permitting process, it is crucial to start 12-18 months prior to a projected milestone. By running the real estate process in parallel to a funding cycle, I attempt to close the gap between when capital is injected, and my client’s occupancy goals.

5. Has your work in the life science industry come full circle regarding causes and/or issues important to you?

It has! I work with so many companies that are devoting their efforts to various stages of research, development, technology, and commercialization to improve lives. I enjoy being a small part in bringing their goals to fruition. That said, I work with Neuraly / D&D Pharma in Gaithersburg who are translating discoveries to improve the lives of those with Parkinson’s Disease. My father-in-law has Parkinson’s and it is a disease that both my wife and I are extremely passionate about. 

Thank you to Andrew Davis for participating in the ‘5 Questions with BioBuzz’ series and stay tuned for more interviews with others from across the BioHealth Capital Region and beyond.

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