Biotech entrepreneur says lack of real estate pushes him from Palm Beach County to Broward


David Willoughby at Ocean Ridge Biosciences’ former headquarters in Palm Beach Gardens. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

David Willoughby lives in Palm Beach Gardens and, until recently, worked there, too. But the owner of Ocean Ridge Biosciences wanted to expand, and he couldn’t find suitable space in northern Palm Beach County.

“We were looking for 5,000 square feet of space,” Willoughby said. “We couldn’t find anything anywhere near Palm Beach Gardens.”

Despite huge public investments in Scripps Florida and Max Planck Florida, lab space is limited in Palm Beach County. Willoughby considered warehouses, which are affordable but typically lack air conditioning. He dismissed office space as too pricey for his biotech business.

Willoughby finally found space in Deerfield Beach and moved his eight-employee company there. Most of his workers live in Boynton Beach, so their commutes are about the same.

“It’s tough for me, because I still live in Palm Beach Gardens,” Willoughby said.

With his bigger facility, Willoughby hopes to expand Ocean Ridge Biosciences to 20 employees. And he hasn’t ruled out a return to Palm Beach County — if the county’s inventory of lab space ever catches up with its biotech ambitions.

“There’s demand for laboratory space,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting somebody to take the risk.”


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