Cool Coworking Space Spotlight

Coworks software streamlines space at Fapon Life Sciences

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Nestled in the bustling heart of Boston, Fapon Life Sciences is a hub of scientific innovation and research. This satellite research-specific location of the China-based Fapon Biotech Inc. operates as a dynamic hub where groundbreaking ideas and meticulous research converge. As Lab and Facilities Manager,  Aine Quimby is a key figure in this vibrant ecosystem. She shared insights into how Fapon leverages Coworks space management software to streamline their operations and foster a collaborative environment.

Navigating the complexities of a shared lab space

As at any scientific research-based space, the intricate dance of managing offices, research tools, and meeting rooms is both an art and a science. “We have office space and lab equipment. Some of the equipment is set up for proprietary use by specific groups, while some is open access,” Quimby explained. This setup requires a meticulous approach to scheduling and space allocation, a challenge that Coworks software can help address.

The lab houses specialized equipment that multiple teams need to access, making the seamless booking of these resources helpful to the day to day operations. “We have maybe three dozen pieces of specialized equipment. The teams in the lab are relatively focused on their own work, so there isn’t a lot of cross-need for equipment yet, but research needs frequently change and it’s important to be able to respond to increased demand by offering flexible booking solutions,” said Quimby. This balance between structure and flexibility is key to maintaining productivity and harmony in the lab.

Flexible lab space software with two scientists performing research

Flexible lab spaces: an experiment in innovative real estate

In medical research and pharmaceutical development, an innovative trend is fast gaining traction — flexible lab space. Drawing on the concept of coworking and space-as-a-service, this model is changing the way scientists, researchers, and startups access and use lab space. 



Overcoming human habits with technology

It’s not easy to change human habits — particularly in managing shared spaces. Quimby observed that, at Fapon, “Everyone is very good at booking our biggest conference room, but getting people to remember to book the smaller spaces where you can just jump in is a bit harder!”  To address these habits, Fapon Labs added tablets for walk-up booking, though uptake has been challenging.

Meanwhile, visitor management is another area where Coworks can help, especially in a lab setting where safety and accountability are paramount. Quimby expressed a desire to explore this functionality further: “I look forward to using more of the visitor functionality, as it's helpful to track who’s coming in and out, especially in a laboratory setting.”

The potential for a walk-up kiosk for visitor sign-ins is appealing, though the current practice does not require employees to sign in and out. Implementing such a system would enhance security and provide a clear record of who is present in the lab at any given time, an important consideration in environments dealing with sensitive or hazardous materials or in the event of an emergency.

Fapon Biotech lobbyAdapting to the evolving needs of the lab

Fapon Biotech operates in a dynamic environment where needs and priorities can shift rapidly. Quimby highlights the importance of flexibility: “We have 10 to 12 pieces of equipment set up as bookable equipment. That could change if there’s a hot piece of equipment that everyone needs access to, but right now, it’s lower pressure.”

Coworks lets users book lab equipment and other resources in the same way they can book meeting rooms. And the ability to adapt and scale solutions is crucial for maintaining the lab’s productivity and ensuring that resources are used effectively. Coworks provides the infrastructure to support these evolving needs, offering features that can be scaled up or down as required.

Looking ahead: The future of shared lab spaces

As Fapon Biotech continues to grow and evolve, the need for effective space management solutions will only become more pronounced. Quimby is optimistic about the potential for further integration and innovation: “I have put out feelers about adding privacy booths, which could also be signed up for. Meetings seem to dominate everything, and we need places for private conversations.”

The use of Coworks is not just about managing existing resources but also about planning for future growth and ensuring that the lab can accommodate new teams and projects. This proactive approach is essential for maintaining a productive and collaborative environment.

At the heart of Fapon’s success is a commitment to creating a space where innovation can thrive. By leveraging Coworks space management software, Quimby and her team bring a collaborative, coworking model to a traditional research operation. 

Quimby’s insights offered a valuable glimpse into the day-to-day operations of a modern research lab, highlighting the importance of flexibility, adaptability, and a willingness to embrace new tools and technologies. 

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