In New York City, the life sciences industry will see transformational investments over the next several years. From a futuristic laboratory to a sustainability-focused biotech innovation space, the city that never sleeps will continue its growth as a hotbed of discovery across the life sciences.
This past week, Deerfield Management Company, a healthcare investment firm based in the city, announced its plans for the pilot Lab of the Future (the “Lab”) within The Maxine and Stuart Frankel Laboratories operated by Cure Innovation Labs (Cure), a non-profit incubator founded by Deerfield for post-seed and pre-Series A start-ups in life sciences and therapeutics. Earlier this year, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation announced the city will open a $20 million center for sustainability-focused biotech in Building 303 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in partnership with Newlab, the Partnership Fund for New York City, and Empire State Development.
NYC’s Lab Of The Future
Located on Park Avenue at Cure, the healthcare innovation campus opened by Deerfield Management in 2022, the new Lab is a $50 million investment. The State of New York and Empire State Development will provide $25 million in grant funding to Deerfield Management subsidiary Deerfield Discovery and Development LLC over five years to support the development of a next-generation pilot Lab for early-stage drug discovery.
The 6,000-square-foot space will function as an automated research facility, leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning, and robotics to conduct preclinical drug development experiments with improved speed, precision, and cost-efficiency. Among other features, it will consist of a proprietary virtual screening platform and automated compound synthesis, purification, and testing capabilities.
“Since founding the Cure campus, our goals have always been to strengthen New York’s health care ecosystem, inspire collaboration, and contribute to global health innovations,” said James Flynn, Managing Partner, Deerfield Management. “This initiative provides us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to radically improve drug discovery efforts and provide a new platform for the industry. We are extremely grateful for the support of ESD and look forward to engaging the community in this effort.”
Funding from the State of New York and Empire State Development will directly support the purchase of essential science equipment for the Lab. It will also support software and technology development (including customization, product testing, etc.), in addition to the hiring of experts in technology and preclinical development. The Lab is expected to encourage growth in New York’s life sciences ecosystem and job market. It is also expected to enable U.S. workforce participation in critical drug development activities that are currently being outsourced overseas.
“This investment in Deerfield’s Lab of the Future will help our state secure its standing as a hub for growth, innovation, and breakthroughs in the life sciences and help reshore vital drug research back to the U.S.,” said New York Governor Kathy Hochul. “Deerfield’s life-saving clinical research and advanced drug discoveries will fuel business activity, grow and strengthen our workforce, and bring the next generation of medicine to New York State. Support for the life sciences is critical to building a modern economy, and my administration remains committed to boosting the key industries and job creators that will move New York forward.”
Select components of the Lab’s technology platform, including software services, are expected to be operational by as early as 2024. A fully functioning and fully integrated prototype of the Lab is expected to be available by 2025. Upon successful completion of the five-year pilot program at Cure®, Deerfield plans to replicate the Lab of the Future’s synthesis, screening, and software services through a full-scale commercial operation located at another location within New York State.
Green Biotech Hub In The Big Apple
Earlier in 2023, another plan to grow the life sciences and biotech industries in the New York City area centered around sustainable activities. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation announced the plan for a sustainability-focused biotech center at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in partnership with Newlab, the Partnership Fund for New York City, and Empire State Development. The 50,000-square-foot innovation space is expected to open in 2025.
This will be the first commercial hub for sustainable biotechnology in the United States and will help position New York City as a leading life sciences market, while also producing new technologies that will help address climate change and advance carbon neutrality goals. The center will receive a $20 million investment as part of the city’s LifeSci NYC initiative. It will create more than 400 high-quality jobs and support a new generation of scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs.
“The way to create the jobs of the future is by supporting companies solving some of the most pressing challenges of our time, like climate change and carbon emissions,” said Mayor Adams. “These companies are not only making our city and planet more sustainable, they are providing career opportunities for working New Yorkers. This is the future, and it’s happening right here in New York City.”
“A first-of-its-kind incubator, this new life science hub will not only provide the resources sustainably-minded companies need to advance their work in food tech, fashion or building materials, and more, but it will also create jobs for New Yorkers and position our city as a leader in developing the solutions that will help protect our planet in the long term and ensuring those solutions come from diverse communities across New York City,” said Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation President & CEO Lindsay Greene.
“This game-changing industry will use the power of biology to create the sustainable materials, products, and industries of the future while accelerating New York’s transition to a green economy,” said NYCEDC President & CEO Andrew Kimball. “There is no better location for this biotech innovation space than at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is already home to innovation-driven life sciences companies and has proven to be a driving force in the biotech industry. NYCEDC is proud to work alongside Mayor Adams, our partners at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Newlab, as New York City cements itself as a global leader and first-mover in this space.”
The Brooklyn Navy Yard is already home to a thriving life sciences industry, with a wide range of businesses pioneering new practices in sustainable biology. These include: Kintra Fibers, a materials science company creating bio-synthetic resin and yarns for the fashion industry; Next Step Labs, a Black-owned company focused on the development of cosmetic and personal care products using primarily natural ingredients and formulations; TomTex, a company developing a high-performance material out of seashell and mushroom waste that is a plastic-free and naturally biodegradable.
“This new center for sustainability-focused biotech, made possible by Mayor Adams’ and the NYCEDC’s investment, will serve as a leading hub for the nontherapeutic life sciences sector, bringing together emerging companies working to address the urgent and changing needs of our world,” Satish Rao, chief product officer, Newlab. “Newlab is thrilled to build upon New York City’s climate goals, while continuing to position the city as a dynamic ecosystem of entrepreneurship and innovation, and there is no better place to see this vision through than the Brooklyn Navy Yard.”
“ESD is proud to work with Mayor Adams and NYCEDC to strengthen New York City’s life sciences industry,” said Hope Knight, President, CEO and Commissioner, Empire State Development at the time. “Today’s announcement is a catalyst for even more innovation and an important investment to stimulate the regional economy and create the jobs of tomorrow.”
As an additional part of this effort, NYCEDC is actively seeking a location and operator for a Materials Innovation Hub, which will focus on early-stage companies and research and development, bringing new materials from lab to market.