With the makings of a hub, NYC primed to be life sciences leader

A $1 billion public investment in life sciences—an announcement that told the world NYC was staking its claim as a global leader in the life sciences industry.

The plan: $450 million to spur new research, $530 million to construct new labs and incubator spaces, and $20 million to build a pipeline of diverse talent. First announced in June 2021, the City reaffirmed the commitment this March, as part of Mayor Eric Adams’s Blueprint for Economic Recovery.

The investment is future-looking, but it’s also based firmly in reality—the reality of the growth of the industry in recent years, and all the city has to offer life sciences companies.

"We have witnessed first-hand the benefits of being headquartered in New York City,” said Nancy Thornberry, Founding CEO and Director of Kallyope, an early-stage company that pursues novel therapeutics for diseases. “Access to the city’s extraordinary talent pool, technologies, and academic centers has proven invaluable in our ability to deliver on our mission.”

Talent pool, technologies, academic centers—plus space, funding, and diversity. Together, these are the foundation of LifeSci NYC, the City’s initiative, led by New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), to carry out the billion-dollar investment and establish NYC as the global leader in life sciences.

Diverse Talent, Diverse Science

With a workforce of over four million, NYC is home to the nation’s largest, and a notably diverse, talent pool, including 7,000+ graduate students and postdocs, 500,000 healthcare workers, and 1 million college students in the metro area.

Drawing on and developing this talent pool is vital for the NYC ecosystem and central to the mission of LifeSci NYC.

In 2017, NYCEDC launched the LifeSci NYC Internship Program which prepares NYC undergraduate and graduate students for careers in the field—and builds a direct talent pipeline for the life sciences industry.

To date, over 420 interns across over 120 host companies have participated in the program, with 47 percent of internships turning into full-time roles.

LifeSci NYC is also actively seeking an organization to develop a new set of training programs and learning opportunities, to hone participants’ skills and foster career growth in the industry.

This current and future workforce, and the city’s overall melting-pot population of 8 million+, in turn drive a diversity of research, clinical trials, and development across disciplines—to a degree unmatched by other cities.

“New York’s biotech ecosystem is unique in its diversity—in the kinds of discoveries being made, in the kinds of scientists involved, and in the kinds of impacts that these will potentially have on the world,” said Kevin Gardner, Director of Structural Biology Initiative at the CUNY Advanced Science Research Center. “LifeSci NYC has played a transformational role in recognizing the strength of this diversity.”

Space for Discovery

To ensure there’s space for diversity to lead to discovery, the City is investing in new wet labs and making existing space available for early-stage companies, meeting high demand.

In summer 2021, NYCEDC invested $50 million for the expansion of BioBAT, a partnership between the State University of New York and NYCEDC that offers research and manufacturing space to biotech companies. BioBAT is located at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, a 55-acre manufacturing campus on the Brooklyn waterfront.  

The investment will be used to build new lab space at the 250,000-square-foot facility, to serve more companies in research and advanced manufacturing.

Across the river, in Manhattan’s Flatiron District, the City partnered with Deerfield Management to redevelop a 12-story building into Cure at 345 Park Avenue South, an innovation campus that provides offices, wet labs, and programming to support startups.

Overall, since the start of LifeSci NYC, the City has opened or announced the opening of 1.7 million square feet of space, and anticipates bringing 10 million square feet of wet lab space online over the next 10 to 15 years.

Companies looking to expand in NYC work not only with the LifeSci NYC team, but also with NYCEDC’s Business Development team, which helps companies access and navigate available financial solutions and incentives.

Investment = Opportunity

And then there’s funding. Widely regarded as the financial capital of the world, NYC boasts an array of VC firms invested in the life sciences space, with an increasing focus on NYC-based startups.

Over the past two years, the life sciences sector in NYC has seen over $2 billion in private VC funding—up from $130 million in 2016—and over $5 billion in NIH funding. 

Beyond traditional sources, capital also flows through unique public-private partnerships. In March, five early-stage, minority-led startups working on neurodegeneration each received a $100,000 grant through the second annual XSeed Award, a partnership between NYCEDC and Deerfield.

“For many underrepresented founders, securing the funding needed to advance life-saving research can be extremely challenging,” said Susan Rosenthal, NYCEDC’s Senior Vice President of Life Sciences and Healthcare. “Now, women- and minority-led life science startups right here in New York City will be further supported in their research.”

More than just funding, the award brings access to the Cure ecosystem: wet and dry labs, office and retail space, business support, and connections to learn from established companies.

This is a microcosm of life sciences in NYC: a future-changing opportunity made possible through public-private partnership, a unique funding stream, and state-of-the-art space—while drawing on the city’s unmatched diversity and advancing equity in the industry.

“In NYC, the stage is set—and set like no other city—for life sciences companies of all sizes to thrive,” said Rosenthal. “We’re here to help you be a part of it.”

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The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.