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Accelerating innovation in life sciences construction projects: Daniel Maldonado joins Unispace Life Sciences as Managing Director in the thriving American market

"Joining a company in a rapid phase of growth usually feels like embarking on a roller-coaster ride, filled with ups, downs, twists, and turns," said Daniel Maldonado, new Managing Director, Americas at Unispace Life Sciences. He shares that his initial experiences at Unispace have lived up to this excitement, and his take on how we'll embrace growth in the American market.

As I immerse myself in this dynamic environment, I'm immediately captivated by the unique blend of opportunity and challenge that Unispace Life Sciences faces. The life sciences industry stands at the forefront of innovation, driving advancements in laboratory design and construction. Despite recent economic fluctuations, the enduring resilience of the American economy offers fertile ground for an innovative company like ours to thrive.

Navigating economic challenges

The past years have seen the US life sciences market navigate the tumultuous waves and complexity of the global economic landscape, including the aftermath of the pandemic-induced downturn.

Deal values fluctuated–reaching a peak in 2021, then dropped sharply as the pandemic eased–with a resurgence in 2023 driven by pharmaceutical companies expanding and medical tech firms focusing on profitability.

At the same time, debt financing became more complex due to increasing interest rates, posing challenges for small biotech firms. To overcome this, they sought funding from larger pharmaceutical companies and private equity investors. Medical technology companies managed these challenges by refining their portfolios, selling off low-performing assets, and strategically acquiring assets to strengthen their finances.

Strategic adaption in life sciences

Amid these economic shifts, a narrative of resilience, adaptation, and strategic navigation emerged, shaping the trajectory of the life sciences industry as it charts a course towards profitability. Recognizing the increasing complexity within the industry, companies adopted strategies like "divest to invest," shedding non-essential parts of their business to focus on core strengths to maximize effectiveness.

This strategic approach has led to recent notable developments, such as big pharma companies like Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson splitting off its consumer health business. This created a trend of large pharmaceutical companies, including Novartis, GSK, and Pfizer, moving away from over-the-counter products to focus on higher-profit novel medicines. For example, Johnson & Johnson’s new consumer product company, Kenvue, awarded Unispace Life Sciences the construction of their new space in New Jersey, USA, where Unispace Group’s vertical integration of workplace and laboratory in a design build environment demonstrated to be the right solution for this type of project.

The emphasis on core strengths has also prompted pharmaceutical companies to give greater strategic importance to specific therapeutic areas. For instance, the immense growth potential of the oncology market has led companies to heavily prioritize oncology in their merger and acquisition spending over the past five years. Additionally, the evolving regulatory environment has brought rare diseases into sharper focus.

Innovation and sustainability and laboratory design and construction

Investments in sustainability have catalyzed advancements in generative AI technology, fundamentally reshaping the drug discovery process. Traditionally, drug development timelines extend over a decade, with extremely high costs ranging from $1–2 billion USD per successful therapy. The integration of generative AI has the potential to expedite and reduce the expenses associated with every stage of drug discovery and early-stage development. This innovation and utilization presents opportunities for flexible spaces tailored to meet ever-evolving needs, focusing on energy efficiency and environmental impact reduction.

Real estate trends in life sciences

While the US life sciences sector performance moderated in 2022/2023 (after record years in 2020/2021) due to increased real estate supply in the main US markets, occupier requirements for R&D and laboratory space remained above pre-pandemic levels. Concurrently, although the US life sciences vacancy rate was c.13.5% in the fourth quarter, it has already started to flatten out. 

Public markets are also rising. In the first quarter of 2024 we have seen product innovation, increased life sciences and biomed IPOs, and XBI S&P Biotech ETF share prices rise, indicating M&A activity and industry expansion.

The long-term demand drivers for the life sciences industry remain compelling, particularly with the potential for two-rate cuts that could steer the market back on track.

Future growth and impact

This situation could open up a lot of opportunities for Unispace Life Sciences as we can quickly adapt to market demands and innovate rapidly, positioning us as a key player in the ever-evolving landscape of science and technology.

One of the key factors that set us apart is our deep understanding of the needs of our clients in this sector. We recognize that these companies require more than just off-the-shelf solutions; they need partners who can quickly deliver customized solutions tailored through an integrated design and build approach–ensuring quicker occupancy, allowing biopharma companies product speed-to-market.

As we navigate the dynamic American market, Unispace Life Sciences remains focused on growth and innovation. In my role leading the team across the US, I’ll make sure our team is leveraging our strengths and capitalizing on emerging opportunities. One of the reasons this role and firm stood out to me was that we are poised to make a lasting impact on the world of science and technology, accelerating progress in life science construction projects, laboratory design, and pharmaceutical manufacturing engineering.

About Daniel Maldonado, Managing Director, Americas at Unispace Life Sciences

Daniel Maldonado_headshot


Daniel is an experienced executive with international experience in operations, strategic planning, business development, commercial and contractual analysis in the construction industry. He is responsible for leading Unispace Life Sciences growth strategy across the Americas.

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