Hi and welcome to R&D Chat. I'm your host, Lindsay Hock, Managing Editor of R&D magazine.
Not all outcomes of the recession were negative. As the North American market shrank, industries saw a significant increase in the number of national and global institutional and private collaborations and people getting creative about funding and seeking partnerships to pool resources. In the past five years, research has become increasingly complex and translational, requiring skills and resources not traditionally available in a single lab setting, nor within a single clinical setting. Collaboration has been crucial for lab design clients, and organizations that pooled resources and sought funding to create state-of-the-art lab environments achieved truly innovative goals.
As clients require more adaptable labs to meet shifting research focuses, plug-and-play elements, such as modular casework, overhead utility distribution and strategically placed, hard-wired monuments, help create an environment that responds to changing needs. Interior finishes that reflect planned, as well as impromptu, collaborative work are becoming key components in research facilities. Features like writable glass partitions and walls encourage creativity as well as collaborative research. Studies have shown that proximity of scientists and increased face-to-face communication are positively correlated to collaboration, innovation and successful interdisciplinary research projects.
These studies reveal that large teams working across geography improve results; and a 45% increase in citations has been documented when researchers are together in one building.
So, it is important to create inspirational environments with access to visual displays to enhance communication and collaboration.
Transparency within and between research neighborhoods, high visibility and colorful collaboration spaces can do the trick.
Strategies to build flexible, collaborative research environments also include the use of casework systems that are easily moveable, limiting fixed elements in labs and containing hazards to the smallest work area. Adaptable furniture and casework systems and modular utility delivery to lab benches have really taken off in the past three years.