Chicago-based real estate development and investment firm Sterling Bay has hired Catherine E. Vorwald as its first director of life sciences. The new role signals a continued investment in diversifying the firm’s portfolio through strategic acquisition and development of state-of-the-art research labs to capitalize on the high demand for modern commercial research lab space in Chicago.
Vorwald, who brings over thirty years of biomedical leadership experience to the firm, will work directly with Sterling Bay managing partner and CEO, Andy Gloor, in the acquisition and development of biomedical research lab properties across the city. According to a recent study, of the 12.5 million square feet of commercial lab space in the metropolitan area, just 1.2 percent is vacant—a statistic that impacts the city’s ability to attract innovative biotech companies seeking to invest or expand in the area.
“There’s an immediate need in Chicago’s life sciences community for high-quality, leasable research space,” said Gloor. “Without it, our city is missing the opportunity to retain some of brightest minds in the future of medicine. With Catherine at the helm of our life sciences division, Sterling Bay will create new opportunity in Chicago’s metro area to offer life science startups—many of which are born right here in our own backyard—the state-of-the-art tools and resources needed to flourish.”
Prior to joining Sterling Bay, Vorwald served as associate vice provost of technology development at Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) where she was responsible for marketing and leasing the University Technology Park at IIT, directing the IIT intellectual property portfolio patenting and licensing activities and establishing the Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program at IIT. She also previously served as president of Silicon Valley Science + Technology, LLC, a private real estate investment and development startup, where she pursued real estate solutions for the specialized needs of emerging and established companies within the science and technology industries.
“Sterling Bay has a first-rate reputation for delivering only the best when it comes to modern, forward-thinking real estate projects,” said Vorwald. “To be given the opportunity to help push the brand forward into a new sector of the market is exciting and I look forward to working alongside Andy and the rest of the team in shaping our strategy as we grow this new division and execute on bringing more laboratory space on line in Chicago.”
In the last six months, Sterling Bay took its first step into the life science sector with the acquisition of a 119,415-square-foot research lab facility 2430 N. Halsted Street. Formerly the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute, the company is currently configuring the property to deliver scarce, modern research space within the city limits to tenants in the life sciences sector.
Vorwald is a current board member of the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition and Illinois Science and Technology Institute. She holds a master of business administration in finance from The Johns Hopkins University as well as a master of science degree and a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences from Georgetown University and the University of California, Santa Cruz, respectively.