- JLL has hired Travis McCready, the CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to become an executive director and head of the firm’s life science practice.
- McCready brings a varied experience working in the tech and life sciences world. Most recently, he consulted with burgeoning life science startups.
- McCready said that major developers are betting big on facilities that bring the manufacture of PPE and active pharmaceutical ingredients stateside, after the coronavirus showed the limitations of a global supply chain.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
JLL has hired Travis McCready, formerly the President and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, to run the firm’s Life Science’s real estate practice, which advises biotech and medical research companies on lab space, the real estate giant announced Tuesday.
The news comes in a banner year for the life sciences industry, as a long-standing trend of growing biotech investment and a global pandemic have converged to put more attention on the space than ever. Crunchbase found that the sector has brought in a record $16.6 billion in venture investments in the first half of 2020, while the race for coronavirus diagnostics, treatments, and a potential vaccine has brought a massive influx of federal funding.
The growing sector also has growing real estate needs, for which they turn to advisory firms like JLL.
In McCready’s newest role, he will be supervising everything from the firm’s research on life science hubs to its tenant broker representation and capital markets team. From this position, McCready will be a major player in the growing life science real estate sector, bringing experience from both sides of the aisle.
“I believe, as I think JLL believes, there’s a symbiotic relationship between real estate and the life sciences in their ability to be able to achieve their missions,” McCready told Business Insider.
McCready joins as a life sciences and biotech innovation investor and consultant
McCready started his career as a lawyer, but stopped practicing law in 2000 and began a period of working at a range of different roles, though innovation, and biotech innovation specifically, has played a major role.
“I’m always circling the drain around innovation in some way,” McCready said.
He served as Harvard’s director of community affairs and chief of staff for The Boston Foundation before a stint at the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority. In that role, he worked with many different biotech and tech clients, before becoming the executive director of the Kendall Square Association, a nonprofit that promotes the Cambridge biotech hub Kendall Square.
After a second stint at The Boston Foundation, McCready was appointed as CEO of the Massachussets Life Sciences Center, a $1.6 billion public-private partnership that invests in the state’s life science industry. With Cambridge, Massachusetts as a leading hub worldwide, this position made McCready one of the more important power brokers in the industry.
He spent four years at the Center, before leaving to consult for life science startups earlier this year. McCready said that this change of pace helped to give him a different perspective on the life science industry.
“If you’re going to be in the innovation space, you have to walk the walk and talk the talk,” McCready said.
Areas to watch: biomanufacturing and the pharma supply chain
McCready’s role at JLL will be sweeping, but he highlighted the firm’s research and thought leadership as one of the most interesting things he will be working on. The firm releases annual life science report that analyzes different industry hubs, a report that helps influence where new companies decide to locate, and where growing companies decide to expand. McCready says this is one of the biggest decisions companies can make.
“This decision can mean the difference between having access to the life scientists and workforce, can affect speed to IPO, and can affect access to risk capital,” McCready said.
COVID has increased funding for vaccine development and diagnostic companies, the latter of which McCready said have potentially been underlooked in favor of the vaccine but are growing at a rapid pace. These companies may not see much of a change in their real estate needs as a result of the pandemic, but manufacturing-related supply chains already are shifting.
McCready said that some major real estate developers are placing large bets on facilities that manufacture active pharmaceutical ingredients in order to “future proof” the supply chain from a future pandemic. Similarly, PPE manufacturing sites have attracted more investment in the US, after PPE was inaccessible in the early days of the pandemic.
Another trend McCready is watching closely is regenerative medicine, or cell-gene therapy. These companies require biomanufacturing space, but instead of the million-plus square-foot mass-production chemical plants of old that manufactured drugs, these spaces are much smaller and more specialized.
The space also needs to be close enough to the research and development hubs that are creating the gene therapy so that learnings can easily be communicated between hubs and materials can be transported quickly.
These two factors have opened up biomanufacturing opportunities in many new locations, like western and central Massachusetts, North Carolina, and Maryland. As this trend continues to grow, markets will continue to develop.