University-based research institutions face a lab space dilemma affecting their research -- and their finances.
The two players in this dilemma are:
a) THE RESEARCHERS. Institutions have the goal of attracting and keeping the best researchers in a particular field. These scientists come with their own grants to fund their research.
b) THE SPACE. This is one of the requirements/perks researchers get. The larger their grant, the more space they get.
So, from the perspective of the University, research lab space is a huge asset. The more researchers an institution has, the more money it will take in. The larger the grants, the better. So it only makes sense for an institution to want to maximize its research lab space. But there’s a catch.
The invasion of the LN2 freezers
Researchers do research, and research leads to biomaterial samples – many samples – that need to be frozen and stored at ultra-low temperatures. And as everyone involved in research knows, freezers tend to multiply themselves like rabbits.
An obvious problem with freezers is that they are expensive to buy, and expensive to maintain. What’s more, since the contents are crucial to the research, it’s essential to have a reliable back-up power generator. Still, for many research facilities the expense related to owning freezers is no big deal.
Here’s the undeniable biggie, though: Freezers take up a lot of space – as much as 30 square feet each, and every square foot occupied by a freezer is one square foot less to house grant-awarded researchers.
The bottom line
Making a simple cost/benefit evaluation, the results seem obvious: It makes sense to use as much lab real estate as possible to house as many researchers as possible, and to store the freezers at a back-up facility.
We usually recommend our clients to move one half of their freezers to a safe and professionally managed location. This simple action will free considerable laboratory real estate for what's truly important: THE RESEARCH. As we always tell our clients: "You are in the business of saving lives. We are in the business of saving your life's work!"