Life science entrepreneurs in NYC gain resource with new incubator in Harlem

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New York City has been adding to its life science incubator landscape in the past couple years to dissuade biotech researchers graduating from its universities from heading to Boston or New Jersey or worse yet, the West Coast. The most recent development is a life science incubator in Harlem scheduled to open this fall that will house up to 20 companies.

Harlem Biospace has been in the planning stages for the past two years, according to a spokesman for the New York City Economic Development Coalition. The coalition allocated $626,000 in financial support for the incubator.

Dr. Sam Sia, a biomedical engineering professor at Columbia University, is the founder of the incubator and an entrepreneur to boot. He founded Claros Diagnostics, a venture capital-backed company acquired by Opko Health in 2011.

“As a faculty entrepreneur, I am aware of the incredible amount of bioscience research taking place in New York City, but have also experienced the challenges of turning these ideas into products without leaving the city,” Sia said in a press statement.

Located inside the Sweets Building (pictured), Harlem Biospace will have a 2,300 square foot space with work desks and wet-lab benches. Incubator companies will have access to shared resources like a cell-culture hood, incubators, a centrifuge, an autoclave, a chemical fume hood, microscopy, freezers, WiFi and printing. All for $995 per month per company.

Among the qualifying criteria outlined on its website are:

  • Companies need to have an experimental component, such as small-molecule drug discovery, medical devices, in vitro diagnostics, research tools, genomics and proteomics. Health IT without a device component does not qualify.

  • The work originated from a New York City-based academic medical institution.

  • The company is early stage.

  • It has to have at least one employee or founder.

  • Companies will be evaluated on the commercialization potential of their technology, quality and commitment of the management team, and commitment to continue work in New York City.

The space is scheduled to open in November. Aspiring occupants can apply for a space here.

Although it’s home to 10 healthcare institutions and attracts $1.4 billion in funding from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, New York tends to lose startup companies generated by technology transfer offices. The reason? Not enough suitable space at affordable prices, or a central forum to unite the life science community. Fitting outstartup lab space doesn’t come cheap, either. So improving the life science ecosystem seems like a logical move. The city’s first major biosciences office park –Alexandria Center for Life Sciences in the East Side Science Park – only opened in 2010.

Last year, SUNY Downstate Medical Center opened a biotechnology incubator along with a complex that can serve as a more long-term home for growth stage companies The BioBat complex was originally the Brooklyn Army Terminal where ships ferrying troops to Europe during World War 2 were launched.


[Photo courtesy of Flickr user Meghan McDonald]

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