How a Serial Entrepreneur Plans to Bring Biotech Innovation Hubs to Colorado

Meet one of the newest members of the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship’s Advisory Council and his vision for how biotech will transform the state.  

By Sarah Soenke, Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications 

When Afshin Safavi moved to Colorado with his wife and two daughters in 2016, he intended to retire.

The serial entrepreneur and veteran biochemist had spent the first 10 years of his career working for innovative pharmaceutical companies like Bayer, GSK, and Grifols. Then, he spent 15 years focused on leading bioanalytical teams developing safety and efficacy testing in support of biological products in preclinical and clinical-trial laboratories. By 2008, he had launched his own global contract research company, BioAgilytix Labs, which he sold—first after five years and then again after 10 years—with plans to retire.

But after settling down in the Centennial State, he saw a real need that he couldn’t ignore.

“One of the biggest challenges that early-stage biotech companies face is space,” Safavi said. “Most landlords do not fully understand what it takes to build lab spaces, and even when they do, it can be expensive. The cost of building these biotech interiors is anywhere between $250,000 and $400,000 per square foot. In some areas of Colorado, rent for these spaces has tripled in the last seven years.”

The spike is likely due to the growing demand. Surrounding Boulder and Denver, the life sciences and biotech ecosystem is booming with a growing number of renowned researchers, scientists, and “more than 2,500 bioscience-related companies” (Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade). In fact, Colorado biotech and life science companies raised $2.11 billion in VC investments in 2022 (PitchBook). Those same companies currently need about 1.3 million square feet in additional workspace (5280 Magazine).

“I’ve built biotech laboratories in different countries and different states, so I know what it takes to set up what we call a Biosafety Level 2 laboratory, which most biotechs need,” Safavi said. “I started thinking maybe I’d buy a handful of buildings, start renovating, and go from there.”

This led to the creation of Colorado Health and Tech Centers (CHTC) and its mission “to become Colorado’s most versatile, agile, and capable developer of work environments.” Over the next 10 years, CHTC intends to build 10 campuses along the I-25 urban corridor that will bring together primary care medicine, biotech startups, life science researchers, biomanufacturing, pharmaceuticals, venture capital, and private equity firms. Each building will range between 50,000 and 400,000 square feet and be a mix of biotech labs, offices, and shared workspaces available to lease on a quarterly or yearly basis and outfitted specifically for the size and needs of each tenant. CHTC has already purchased the building or land for five of these 10 campuses in Denver, Aurora, and Colorado Springs.

The lobby inside 5800 S. Quebec St in Greenwood Village.

One of those buildings, located at 5800 S. Quebec St in Greenwood Village, now serves as the CHTC headquarters. The four-story, 164,000-square-foot Quebec Court II building and former home to Comcast was purchased earlier this summer at an unexpectedly low price of $5 million. (The previous owners purchased it for $27 million in 2013). Since then, Safavi’s vision for the property has only grown as it receives more and more interest from the industry.

CHTC has started outfitting seven biotech labs and a shared workspace in the building’s first and second floors, which are expected to be ready by April of next year. Those floors also include a 165-person event space and lecture hall, café, and open floor lobby, which will feature a double helix art piece made from the miles of cable wires leftover from Comcast. The mountain views on the third and fourth floors make them ideal to house more offices and shared workspaces for tech companies and C-suite consultants, lawyers, and VC firms. Throughout the fall, Safavi has been busy showing the building to prospective tenants, ranging from small entrepreneurial teams to large companies with the potential to take over entire floors.

As CHTC’s founder, CEO, and president, Safavi is adamant that these campuses are more than just buildings and plots of land, though.

The open floor space inside 5800 S. Quebec St in Greenwood Village.

He believes that bringing all the industry’s key players under one roof will help fuel the interactions, collaborations, and support that biotech needs to thrive. Given his diverse career in the industry, Safavi can apply his expertise to carefully select and foster early-stage biotech companies with the right promise and perseverance. CHTC will provide the physical space, connections, and customized resources to help these organizations reach their next stage of growth. Plus, these hubs are designed to not only attract but also cater to the state’s best talent by meeting them where they want to live.

“People do not want to relocate, nor do they want to drive 50 miles to go to work,” Safavi said. “With these smaller hubs scattered across the state, we want to go to the talent so that the talent doesn’t have to come to us.”

According to Safavi, working with the right people is critical to success, and it is one of the main reasons he enjoys being in Colorado. When he’s not working on CHTC, Safavi stays active as a consultant, investor, and board member for several companies (Canine Biologics, Chimeron Bio). He is passionate about making affordable and accessible medicine for worldwide use. He also serves on several local boards and councils, including the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship’s Advisory Council, in hopes of helping connect the best talent with internship and job opportunities in the biotech space.

“The people here are humble, but their level of knowledge and expertise is incredibly high,” Safavi said. “I like working with people who are self-made, who are hard-working and passionate. … With any of my businesses that have done well, it’s because I’ve been surrounded by the right people. I’ve learned from some of the best out there, and now I want to pass it on.”
To learn more about Afshin Safavi and Colorado Health and Tech Centers, visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *