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$20M Biotech Hub Coming To Brooklyn Navy Yard

New York City Mayor Eric Adams delivers remarks at an event for the Global Fund on Sept. 18, 2022.

New York City plans to invest $20M in a biotech incubator in Brooklyn as part of a wide-ranging series of zoning and development initiatives meant to revive the city’s real estate market and incubate its growing life sciences sector.

Mayor Eric Adams announced the plan earlier this week and underscored it during his State of the City address Thursday.

“This year, the city will kick-start a new effort to become the global center of sustainable biotech,” Adams said during his speech. “We will start by opening a first-in-the-nation incubator at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where biotech startups will transform the way we eat, build and protect our environment.”

The 50K SF space, expected to open in the next few years, will be operated by Newlab, an existing tech cluster in the Navy Yard, and offer office and lab space to biotech startups focused on consumer and industrial uses, especially related to new materials and food products. It’s meant to augment existing spaces and facilities that focus more on medical and medical diagnostic advances. 

The hub will consist of step-up space, with the aim of helping growing companies stay in the city,  Partnership Fund for New York City CEO Maria Gotsch said. She believes the unique focus on seeding science and new products attractive to industries with strong roots in the city, such as food, design and fashion, will help play on the city’s strengths. 

“We believe that New York City has tremendous potential to be a leader in life science,” Gotsch said. “A number of the innovations coming are relevant to large corporations, which are residents of New York City. We want to take the assets we have and convert it into innovation.”

Growing the biotech sector has been a key city policy goal. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio directed $1B in funding for the sector via his LifeSci NYC program, which is the source of the funds for the incubator announced today.

The city’s biotech sector has seen increased funding and investment in recent years, with a 2021 study by the Partnership Fund for New York City suggesting the sector had entered a “high-growth phase.”

Recent CBRE data found leasing activity in the city reached a record high in 2022, and new investments bring the total number of active or in-development incubators to nine. But many analysts have said the city and region haven’t yet achieved critical mass, due in part to the cost of lab real estate and challenges coordinating between city and suburban planners.