New York City Life Science Initiative
Memorandum of Support for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s LifeSciNYC Initiative
In mid-December 2016, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an ambitious plan to support and grow the city’s life science sector through various tax incentives, direct investments, and policy initiatives. Those proposals aim to deliver a total investment of more than $500 million to New York City’s life science sector over the next 10-25 years with the aim of creating 16,000 jobs for New Yorkers. In particular, the Mayor’s proposal examines the shortage of affordable lab space for researchers and pre-commercial companies; developing a robust pipeline of researchers and entrepreneurs; and increasing access to capital for early research.
NewYorkBIO welcomes the Mayor’s support for the life sciences and, since the announcement of this initiative, has solicited feedback from our diverse membership regarding how the various provisions within the proposal would affect our ability to research, develop, and commercialize life-saving technologies in New York City. Our findings and thoughts regarding the LifeSciNYC are below, separated by subject area.
Addressing the Lack of Affordable Lab Space
NewYorkBIO supports the targeted tax incentives designed to spur the creation of additional commercial lab space in New York, as well as the direct investment to fund incubators and innovation centers. Aside from the space constraints facing start-up companies, access to expensive common core equipment (flow cytometers, microscopy, sequencers, etc.) is a major hurdle for early researchers outside of the academic setting. As the City drafts the legislation to enact these proposals, we hope that equipment dedicated to life science research is also eligible for the tax incentives and direct investment contemplated here.
The proposals to create a new life sciences campus and to expand the network of life sciences R&D facilities for existing academic medical centers is exciting as well, with one caveat. We hope that the City will endeavor creative solutions for how private start-ups (which account for some 70% of life science research activity) can access the resources invested in these two projects. In doing so, we are confident that the investment will further spur the commercialization of opportunities discovered within these not-for-profit centers, while leveling the competitive playing field for start-up companies that do not have the world class resources within the City’s premier academic institutions.
One of our start-up companies recently secured space at the SUNY Downstate Incubator. While the availability of affordable lab space is a key concern for start-ups, a high value is also placed on the density of life science companies where they locate. We strongly feel that these provisions will help offset the high cost of built out lab space, while at the same time encouraging co-location – not only among companies, but among companies and their academic partners.
Developing a Pipeline for Scientific Talent
NewYorkBIO represents many early-stage companies in the City who face significant headwinds as they try to get their companies off the ground in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in the country. Talent development is a key challenge, and we applaud the Mayor for his acute focus on not only attracting talent to New York, but also cultivating it through our world class academic institutions. Our member companies have already committed to increasing the number of internships and post-doc opportunities, as well as writing curricula that will introduce real-world drug development perspective to local colleges and universities. This, in addition to expanding the ELabNYC and SBIR Impact programs, will provide useful resources for our emerging researchers and entrepreneurs.
We are excited about the proposed Life Sciences Management Corps and the Mayor’s Life Sciences Advisory Council. Hiring seasoned entrepreneurs in New York is a time consuming and expensive undertaking; the Life Sciences Management Corps will go a long way to facilitating that process. We also hope that the Mayor’s Life Sciences Advisory Council can go a step further to investigate how smaller companies may begin to pool some shared services – such as human resources and benefits – so that they can more effectively compete with academic institutions and more established companies for talent.
NewYorkBIO strongly supports the Mayor’s LifeSciNYC Initiative, and welcomes continued discussion about the feedback we have presented for individual proposals here. As the state’s leading association for the life sciences, New York City is our home base and we envision an active role in working to ensure that City funding is used judiciously to create jobs and discover life-saving technologies.
For over 20 years, NewYorkBIO has worked closely with life science associations and clusters across the US to identify and assess best practices in life science economic development and we have developed a broad and deep library on the subject. We believe that NewYorkBIO can be an expert resource for these proposals, and can facilitate their implementation.
We look forward to further discussion with the Mayor and his administration as we all work to make New York City the premiere destination for life sciences innovation and research.
For more information, please contact Executive Director Nathan Tinker at 212-433-2623.