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Who Needs an Office?

New biotech companies with lean budgets are foregoing having their own offices and labs, the Wall Street Journal reports.

These days, the Journal says, startup companies have lean budgets and can't afford to build out new labs to house their own scientific teams. Alkeus Pharmaceuticals' Leonide Saad, for instance, holds meetings in a local Au Bon Pain or in empty classrooms at MIT.

"The cost-saving and flexibility advantages are numerous," Saad says.

His company relies on contract research organizations to perform much of its lab work, though he notes that as his company's projects are just one of the organizations' many projects, Saad tries to stay on top of them and instill a sense of camaraderie.

Similarly, Michael Gilman's Padlock Therapeutics runs out of offices of Atlas Venture, which gave the startup some of its seed money, in a sort of incubator setting with other burgeoning biotechs.

"Whether such frugality will lead to better medicines faster is unclear," notes Ed Silverman at the Pharmalot blog. "But given that keeping costs down is paramount — this is an important sign of discipline, after all — the virtual may be seen as virtuous."