What’s the best location for a growing biotech startup at the beginning of a global pandemic? For Bridge Diagnostics, a national molecular laboratory focused on infectious disease and women’s health, the answer was simple: UCI Research Park in Irvine, California.
With space to scale and access to the University of California at Irvine’s rich STEM talent pool, Bridge Diagnostics founder Jason Hansen says UCI Research Park was an easy choice for his team. The collaborative support Hansen received from Irvine Company made the move even easier.
“We laid out some pretty aggressive timelines and Irvine Company did everything possible to meet this pace,” says Hansen. “We moved quickly with clear communication. Given the logistic challenges posed by the pandemic, this is even more impressive.”
Hansen is no stranger to the biotech world, having founded and grown Precision Diagnostics, a clinical laboratory headquartered in San Diego. Hansen grew Precision Diagnostics within a life science incubator, increasing the company’s footprint until it grew into its own purpose-built office and lab space.
When it came to finding a home for his newest venture in Orange County, Hansen sought a similar solution.
“We didn’t want to move into 50,000 SF of space right out of the gate but, if we hit our projections, we also knew we would be expanding quickly,” said Hansen. “The opportunity to be mobile with the Irvine Company portfolio – and right here at UCI Research Park – was critical.”
While the company’s primary focus is women’s health, when the pandemic hit, Hansen and his team pivoted quickly to increase testing capacity for the novel coronavirus. To accelerate test turnaround time, the company utilizes robots to automate workflows, which dramatically improves quality and reduces turn-around time. By early September, Bridge Diagnostics will be able to process more than 20,000 tests a day.
Looking beyond the pandemic, Bridge Diagnostics is taking advantage of Irvine’s rich STEM talent pool to build a robust data science team that uses AI for predictive modeling.
“Predictive data will take what we do processing lab work to the next level, providing critical insights to healthcare providers and insurers about population risk, and allow healthcare providers to be proactive with care.”
In one year, Bridge Diagnostics still plans to be at UCI Research Park, just not in the company’s current suite.
“We created a purpose-built lab space out of a 6500 SF suite, which is unusual,” says Hansen. “With Irvine Company and UCI Research Park, we’ll be able to scale easily within this campus to a larger space. We’re already thinking ahead to what’s next.”
In the meantime though, the team has its sights set on UCI Research Park’s sand volleyball court, one of the many outdoor amenities that are popular with employees.
“UCI Research Park is the perfect match for our innovative and progressive culture,” says Hansen. “Once COVID-19 is behind us, we look forward to hosting our company’s volleyball tournament here.”