Only recently has there been a push to build an ecosystem in New York City that fosters innovation and a thriving startup culture. There are now more networking events, meet-ups, and online groups to facilitate a community around biotech and entrepreneurship.
NYC Tech Connect, for example, is a private-public partnership that brings scientists together with business and industry mentors. Community-building efforts sponsored by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) include the Entrepreneurship Lab and SBIR Impact NYC. In addition, Empire State Development’s NYSTAR division continues to support opportunities for new tech companies. For example, it supports the Innovate NY Fund.
Academic research institutions are also playing a part in this development by introducing business courses to their graduate programs. These efforts are churning out a new generation of industry-savvy scientists and advocating a vibrant and dynamic entrepreneurial culture, essential for biotech startup activity. There are now new partnerships of academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies working together to more effectively develop drugs from the discoveries made in reasearch labs and accelerating early-stage drug discovery.
There are now more opportunities for funding early proof-of-concept biopharmaceutical projects through government incentives and a new wave of angel investors. These high-risk projects have been underfunded, but they are crucial for facilitating the transition from academic research to business operations.
Large accelerator programs such as Accelerator Corp., are coming to New York City, providing management and financing to biotech startups. In addition, the NYCEDC recently provided a seed grant to Harlem Biospace, a 2,000-square-foot incubator for young spin-out companies that provides shared equipment and affordable rent.
Harlem Biospace is the first initiative to diverge from the traditional development model, which favors large, expensive, and geographically distant incubators. As such, it represents a significant step toward encouraging new companies to stay in New York City. However, many essential resources will need to become more available—and affordable—before startup companies can flourish.