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With More Than A Billion Dollars Invested, NYC Life Sciences Is Taking Off


The life sciences industry is rapidly growing in New York City, and the city is on its way to becoming the next life sciences hub in the United States

With more than $1B invested in NYC life sciences by LifeSci NYC, a life sciences initiative under the NYC Economic Development Corp., the community is launching dynamic new startups and leading scientific breakthroughs. The goal is to improve health outcomes by spurring new research, constructing new labs and helping to pool this pipeline of diverse talent, aiming to create nearly 16,000 jobs in the city by 2026. 

Capalino, a strategic consulting firm in NYC, has been deeply involved with the city’s life sciences expansion and how it continues to evolve in the financial capital of the world.

“New York City has always been a gold standard of not only what’s trending but what’s next,” Capalino Managing Director Susan Hinkson-Carling said. “We’re seeing how the city is transforming these big vacant spaces into thriving life sciences facilities.”

Hinkson-Carling said that while the coronavirus took a toll on different real estate sectors, life sciences was already growing but became more of a necessity due to the focus on health. 

With the advent of the Cornell/Technion consortium, the Science Park and Research Campus Kips Bay at Hunter College, the Columbia University sciences facility in West Harlem, the Brooklyn Hospital Center and the expansion of the New York Blood Center, health and science institutions are expanding their footprints both in new buildings and major renovations, she said. 

Capalino President Travis Terry said that while life sciences companies grow in NYC, academic institutions are increasingly helping to meet new workforce demand. 

A strategy that's a part of this growth is Mayor Eric Adams' plan called Rebuild, Renew, Reinvent, which provides a blueprint for reinvigorating the city’s economy. One of the goals of this program is to help double down on the life sciences industry by encouraging the growth of subsectors and refining the talent pool of local New Yorkers.

This is something that Capalino has done with the development of the just-completed 400K SF Class-A West End Labs life sciences facility, formerly ABC Studios. The goal is to bring jobs not only to Manhattan’s Upper West Side but also to inspire other boroughs such as Long Island, Queens and Brooklyn to follow suit. 

“It is a very encouraging time for the NYC life sciences industry,” Terry said. “Government has made an incredible commitment to incentivize growth, the talent for life science jobs gets better and better thanks to our education system, and increasingly, projects like West End Labs and SPARC Kips Bay are becoming neighborhood anchors to enable a bright economic future. Moreover, as a consequence of vacant commercial real estate, we are believers that life science companies can help fill some of that space.”

West End Labs, located at 125 West End Ave., was acquired by real estate development firm Taconic Partners in 2019 and is a project under its life sciences subsidiary, Elevate Research Properties. The company wanted to take advantage of the building’s size, layout, height and industrial-grade live-load capacity to meet the demand for more life sciences spaces in NYC. This conversion will complement the company’s nearby Hudson Research Center, providing modern, purpose-built research and laboratory facilities. 

Elevate is already striking while the iron is hot by signing its first tenant, Graviton Bioscience, a developer of novel therapeutics to treat autoimmune diseases. The company will use the laboratory space as its new research and office headquarters.

Bringing West End Labs to life was easier said than done and required a lot of groundwork to get it approved, Hinkson-Carling said. Some challenges included securing approvals from city agencies and safely and efficiently upgrading interconnecting building systems. 

“Capalino helped with the strategic planning of the building, gaining support from government agencies and the community, getting permit filings and approval, and tackling zoning issues to bring the project to the finish line,” she said.

This is one of many life sciences facilities that presents these sets of challenges. However, there's light at the end of the tunnel with NYC’s City of Yes proposed zoning changes under the economic opportunity section, supporting growing life sciences in NYC and modifying specific zoning limitations that regulate the type of businesses allowed in a district.

Terry said that this is an opportunity for Capalino to work with a variety of government agencies, particularly the NYCEDC. The economic development arm recently announced Tech Forward Life Sciences RFI, which is seeking more stakeholders’ input on the evolution and innovation of NYC’s life sciences industry.

“I believe public, private and education projects like West End Labs and SPARC Kips Bay are successful case studies that will encourage more life sciences companies to move their headquarters to NYC,” Terry said. “The ability for life science companies to tap into a strong ecosystem of academia, government, finance and healthcare in one place is a tremendous competitive advantage.”

When it comes to the future of life sciences, Capalino continues to be involved in this sector and believes that AI will have a key role in this industry’s evolution. 

“Whether it's preventative healthcare through telecare or creating the next solution to help cure diseases, Capalino believes that the evolution of AI will be a major part in speeding things up,” Hinkson-Carling said. “We’re looking forward to being a part of how life sciences evolves in the next 10 years and how it can make a greater impact on society as a whole.”

This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Capalino. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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