Stanford has a legacy of translating life science research discoveries into cures, and the opportunities in this field are greater than ever before. The Life Science District takes advantage of this momentum and further accelerates solutions.
Life Science Initiative
The University’s commitment to life science research and development strengthened under the leadership of President Marc Tessier-Lavigne. The success of the Research Park is inextricably linked to the University, as the academy and the Research Park enterprise work together to sustain an integrated academic-to-industry life science ecosystem. Stanford University provides access to world-class research institutions, hospitals, and healthcare systems; supports collaboration of scientific, medical and engineering talent; and produces a highly educated labor pool. In addition, the University has special teams that work to streamline access to federal research grants and venture capital, and curate innovation through supporting patent creation.
Life Science District
Stanford University has designated a portion of Stanford Research Park as the “Life Science District,” and will transform this District over time into the preeminent community of scientific entrepreneurs and top talent focused on bioengineering, precision medicine, medical devices, and digital health. The hope is the emergence of the Life Science District off campus can do even more to facilitate commercialization of novel therapeutics for the greater good of humanity.
Stanford Research Park currently features Varian Medical Systems, Jazz Pharmaceuticals, IFF, Guardant Health, Kodiak Sciences, Canary Center and other biotech firms. Nearby Stanford School of Medicine and the VA Hospital provide opportunities for proximate bench to bedside.
Life Science Incubator
Within the emerging Life Science District, Alexandria LaunchLabs, a purpose-built incubator at the Alexandria Center for Life Science at Stanford Research Park at 3160 Porter Drive accelerates innovative life science start-ups that spin out of the University’s academic labs. The incubator is the central location for Stanford faculty to commercialize their R&D.
Alexandria LaunchLabs provides scientist-entrepreneurs with flexible, move-in-ready lab and office space, shared equipment, as well as strategic programming and access to strategic capital. The facility also offers lab suites for maturing companies.
Having an expanded life science-focused community close to campus complements existing efforts within the School of Medicine to translate basic science discoveries into new therapies. As new technologies, devices, treatments and therapies move from ideas to labs to applications in the real world, it is important to have spaces that can adapt to support this development.
This flexibility and proximity to campus will greatly benefit Stanford faculty and other entrepreneurs and provide them with a supportive community and shared resources to facilitate their new ventures.
What Makes Stanford Research Park Unique?
Stanford Research Park, the University’s affiliated business park in Palo Alto, founded in 1951, has a unique dual mission – to promote the commercialization of R&D by bridging the gap between academia and industry, while generating income to support the University’s academic mission. More than 70 years later, Stanford Research Park hosts companies in industry sectors such as biotech, hardware, software, artificial intelligence, and automotive mobility.
The University’s ownership of the entirety of Stanford Research Park enables the opportunity to play a strategic role in curating the tenancy of the Research Park, including promoting diversity across industry sectors, embracing entrepreneurs and companies at varying stages of growth, and building a broad array of R&D spaces for companies to lease. Through strategic space management and programmatic offerings, the University fosters synergies and partnerships among the companies and with the academic research enterprise.
A History of
Stanford Research Park has been home to a long roster of life science companies whose products have fundamentally altered the arc of human health.
Having been the site of major advances in everything from biotech electronic instrumentation—such as the X-ray, centrifuge, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—to cancer treatments—including radiation oncology, recombinant DNA technology, and cancer-detecting liquid biopsy tests—and more, Stanford Research Park is where Stanford University and industry join forces to create solutions for humankind.
Throughout the 20th century, groundbreaking advancements in pharmaceutical and industrial biochemistry ushered in a wave of life science innovations and therapies.
In the 1960s, Stanford leadership recognized an extraordinary opportunity: Through the University, Stanford Research Park connected Stanford’s preeminent researchers and graduates with scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors, both to accelerate the pace and scale of innovation and to help move vital discoveries made on campus and beyond to market.
- Stanford Research Park
Founded in 1951, Stanford Research Park serves as a magnet for scientists and faculty, a source of jobs for University graduates, and a driver of economic development for the region.
- Varian Associates
In 1953, Varian Associates becomes the first tenant in the Park. The company’s earliest technologies become essential in the development of radiation therapy in the treatment of cancer.
- School of Medicine
Stanford Medical School reopens on the University’s campus in 1959 as part of its newly consolidated Palo Alto-Stanford Hospital Center. The School of Medicine will grow to have a worldwide reputation as a hub for education, scientific achievement, and clinical medicine.
- Life Science Cluster
By the 10th anniversary of the Park, tenants include Syntex Institute of Molecular Biology, The Beckman Coulter Specialized Instruments division, and Levinthal Electronics Products, which developed some of the first defibrillators, pacemakers and cardiac monitors.
- West Coast’s First Life Science Incubator
In 1966, Syntex and Varian, form Synvar Research Institute to focus on therapies and products born from the merger of pharmaceuticals and electronics.
Founded in 1971, ALZA innovates in the field of drug delivery systems, producing more than twenty prescription pharmaceutical products.
- StartX Med
StartX Med empowers entrepreneurial scientists to build successful companies. To date, StartX Med has launched 200+ companies, 91% of which have demonstrated commercial viability.
- Life Science District
Purposeful investments lead to the opening of the Life Science District in 2016 and perpetuate Stanford’s legacy of translating life science discoveries into cures.
- Alexandria Launch Labs
Opened in 2021, LaunchLabs, fosters early- and growth-stage life science companies. Stephen Richardson, Alexandria’s co-CEO, states, “Stanford has the greatest entrepreneurial community in the country”.
- Innovative Medicines Accelerator
The Innovative Medicines Accelerator (IMA) incubator in Stanford Research Park is key to ensuring that Stanford discoveries continue to benefit the world by initiating the commercialization of novel therapies.
- Arc Institute
Arc operates in partnership with Stanford University, UCSF, and UC Berkeley to accelerate scientific progress, understand the root causes of disease, and narrow the gap between discoveries and impact on patients.
- Stanford Medicine Catalyst
Stanford Medicine Catalyst selects promising innovations that emerge from Stanford’s hospitals and the School of Medicine to join their incubator. Chosen projects receive capital, mentorship, and resources to advance through the stages of growth.
Today, the convergence of life science with digital technologies, computer science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence is catalyzing another evolution in life science. Once again, Stanford University and the Research Park are motivated to mobilize their collective resources and talent to support scientist-entrepreneurs in bringing life-saving and life-improving therapies and tools to humanity.
Stanford Research Park and Palo Alto have always been at the forefront of new technological and scientific discoveries and inventions. With a renewed focus on drawing life science entrepreneurs to Stanford Research Park, we will support them in their pursuits to deliver therapies and solutions to the public health challenges of the 21st century.