New York state will provide $17 million to Johnson & Johnson Innovation to open a 30,000-square-foot biotech incubator next year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
The incubator, JLabs @ NYC, will be located at the New York Genome Center in SoHo. There, life-sciences startups will be able to rent modular laboratory space from the Genome Center, a nonprofit that counts New York's premier research institutions as members. JLabs will provide the companies access to lab equipment, office space and educational programming, officials said.
The life-sciences industry recently has won considerable support from the state and the city. The $17 million in capital funding is part of a $650 million statewide plan Cuomo announced Dec. 12 to support life-sciences companies through tax incentives, capital grants to build laboratory space and public-private partnerships.
A day later, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a $500 million commitmentover 10 years to create an applied life-sciences campus on either Manhattan's East Side or across the East River in Long Island City.
New York City has struggled to compete with Silicon Valley and Boston in the development of life-sciences industries. Cheryl Moore, president and chief operating officer of the New York Genome Center, said Cuomo's and de Blasio's commitments to the sector will help it mature.
"There's real support for helping foster innovation that has languished for a while because of lack of funding," Moore said. "Because of the need for lab space—there's a significant shortage in the city—I think it will make a big difference."
Melinda Richter, who runs JLabs, estimated the site could house about 30 companies, depending on their size. She declined to disclose how much Johnson & Johnson would invest to launch the project and sustain operations.
Johnson & Johnson operates seven other JLabs incubators in the United States and Canada. It doesn't take equity stakes in the startups as a requirement for participation. Rather, it aims to foster young scientific talent and scope out future investments. Johnson & Johnson Innovation is a unit dedicated to connecting entrepreneurs with the New Brunswick, N.J.–based company's health care businesses.
Johnson & Johnson was attracted to New York City, Richter said, because it satisfies two important criteria needed for successful biotech companies: high-quality academic institutions where scientists are conducting research and medical expertise that can be tapped when testing the effectiveness of new drugs or devices during clinical trials.
"New York is a hotbed of activity in both of those anchor points," she said.
"Johnson & Johnson bets on NYC's biotech industry" originally appeared in Crain's New York Business