Life Sciences? We’ve Got (More of) ‘Em, Announces EDC


With $1.4 billion in annual support from the National Institutes of Health and a near-unrivaled concentration of academic, medical and research foundations, New York is well positioned to translate the inquiries and experiments of its libraries and laboratories into serviceable medical innovations. And it will become—in theory— better-positioned still with the addition of two newly-announced initiatives: the City of New York Early-Stage Life Sciences Funding Initiative and the Mt. Sinai Institute of Technology (MSIT).

The Funding Initiative, launched by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, seeks to establish 15 to 20 new life science ventures by 2020. The EDC—together with Celgene Corporation, GE Ventures and Eli Lilly & Company—has pledged $50 million in anchor funds to the project, to be matched evenly with contributions from venture capital partners. MSIT, meanwhile—with $5 million in city funds—will confer graduate degrees in “technology-based life sciences,” during completion of which students will engage in “product development and active entrepreneurship in areas including Big Data, cloud computing, social networking, scientific and clinical simulation, tissue engineering,  sensors, microprocessors,” and a host of other ultra-complicated-sounding disciplines, according to a release.

“Through the Life Sciences Funding Initiative and our overall investments in the life sciences ecosystem, we have helped build an engine for innovation and economic development for decades to come,” said an evidently pleased EDC President Kyle Kimball in the release. “No other city is positioned to forge a partnership of this kind.” Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel added, “Today’s announcement marks the beginning of a united front across the academic and commercial life sciences sectors in New York City.” (Does this mean we’ve been living until now in the presence of a life sciences community divided against itself?!?! Mr. Steel did not elaborate.)

Still, sources tell The Observer that the NYCEDC had hundreds of conversations with people involved in the life sciences ecosystem, a colloquy which yielded a general consensus: Things could be better. (San Francisco, San Diego and Boston, for example, have more effectively encouraged and achieved private-sector life-science investment.)

“This funding initiative is a testament to the strength of the City’s life sciences community,” Deputy Mayor Steel said in the release. “We have seen an unprecedented level of leadership from our local academic leaders in recent years… We are pleased to see Celgene, Lilly and GE Ventures place their full confidence in the future of New York City’s life sciences ecosystem. With their support, and in close partnership with our local research institutions, New York City will become a formidable force in life sciences innovation.” 

Back slaps all around.  Life Sciences? We’ve Got (More of) ‘Em, Announces EDC