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solving NYC’s lab space problem. The plan will help create roughly 3 million square feet of wet lab and commercial space for life science firms at prices that startups can afford. The De Blasio administration will also push to rezone several areas in the city to include life sciences sites and “clarify regulations” to make clear that lab space is permitted in most commercial zones.
Another $100 million will help create what’s being called the “Applied Life Sciences Campus.” That facility will be either on the East Side of Manhattan—where several research institutions like Rockefeller, NYU Langone Medical Center, and Weill Cornell Medicine are located—or Long Island City right across the East River from Midtown. According to the announcement, the campus, which looks to be the lynchpin to NYC’s biotech future, will unlock private investment in 2.8 million square feet of lab space, and serve as a connective hub for VC investors, university researchers, startups, and pharma companies.
The goal, NYCEDC president and CEO Maria Torres-Springer said at Tuesday’s press conference, is to establish a “center of gravity” where startups and large companies coincide with translational research. The NYCEDC will begin soliciting proposals to develop the Applied Life Sciences Campus by spring of next year. It will probably take about four to five years total to complete the project, Springer said. De Blasio said one or more academic institutions could anchor the campus.
The city is also putting $7.5 million towards paid internship programs for more than 1,000 students—positions with an average salary of $75,000—at life sciences companies. Roche, Eli Lilly, the New York Genome Center, and Deerfield have already agreed to take part.
The De Blasio administration will make another $50 million in “targeted” investments in the city’s academic centers and research institutions. It will also put $10 million towards up to five new biotech startup incubators—the first of which will open late next year—to be located near existing research centers. Another $7.5 million will be set aside to fund biotech startups, and another $3.8 million will be spent on training programs for life sciences entrepreneurs.
The city will be advised on this effort by a “Life Sciences Advisory Council,” a mix of industry veterans and academics co-chaired by former National Cancer Institute director and Nobel laureate Harold Varmus, and Vicki Sato, a former Biogen and Vertex Pharmaceuticals executive.
There are some lofty targets for LifeSci NYC: The plan is meant to create 9,000 life science jobs, 7,000 jobs in related fields, and another 7,400 construction jobs, and $2.5 billion in economic output per year; attract $6.5 billion in private investments; and add $1 billion in tax revenue. Those numbers may seem outrageous given NYC’s lack of biotech progress over the years, and there is a lot of work ahead for the city to see even a fraction of that benefit.
It’s important to note that these figures are long-term estimates, which is why De Blasio said Tuesday the initiative will have a “pretty modest impact” on NYC’s annual budget going forward. The job totals, for instance, are a target Springer said the NYCEDC hopes to see over the course of a decade as new space is developed and filled by companies. Same goes for the 3 million square feet of lab space. More immediately, the $10 million set aside for incubators could be doled in the near-term. And while the $300 million in tax credits—which will help defray property and other taxes—are pro-rated over 25 years, some of that money could be put to work quickly.
De Blasio said NYC is hoping for the same type of growth it has seen in tech, which was aided by early, “modest” investments a few decades ago. The NYC tech sector now has more than 300,000 employees, he said.
“[Life sciences] is a sector that could reach 100,000 jobs or more in this city if we make the right investments quickly, if we work with all of our partners aggressively, and we maximize our competitive advantage,” De Blasio said.