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As Labs Lean More On AI, New York's Tech Scene Will Lift Its Life Sciences Market

New York’s status as a rising tech mecca will help drive its relatively small life sciences market as artificial intelligence becomes increasingly important in lab space, experts say.


“I think New York has really evolved as a biotech town,” First Republic Bank Managing Director for Life Sciences Nishta Rao said on a Bisnow life sciences digital summit last week. “We are seeing a lot of these hybrids now with AI coming in and a lot of the traditional biotech startups having that component in their pipeline. It's just a different ballgame that I think New York is better equipped to cater to.”

The adoption of AI is crucial to biotechnology development as scientists enter a new stage of understanding the genome, Weill Cornell Medical College Director of Real Estate Christina DeRose said. 

“In terms of clinical medicine, we really are moving towards a lot of big data,” she said. “We’re basically there in terms of sequencing a human genome, sequencing each individual's genome and storing that data ... So having the data and AI in New York is really important, because a lot of our research is moving in that direction.” 

There has been major investment into AI for life sciences spaces around the country recently; California startup Artificial just received $21M to create automated smart lab space technology. Companies are looking for smart building integration or sensors to help them get ahead of the competition, Anthony Montalto, a partner at the engineering firm Jaros, Baum & Bolles, said during an event panel on developing competitive lab space. 

“By merging AI we're seeing with lab and medical and scientific knowledge, companies can leverage this technology to transform processes and achieve a competitive edge,” he said. “AI has assisted in drug development and has made supply chains smarter and more responsive.” 

Since the pandemic, more tenants are using AI technology to improve air quality as well, Montalto said.

While Boston is still the national epicenter for biotech, New York’s growth in this area could help it compete and distinguish itself from its New England neighbor on this front, experts said. 

Clockwise from top left: Weill Cornell Medical College Director of Real Estate Christina DeRose, Newmark Managing Director Bill Harvey, Ennead Architects international partner Peter Schubert, First Republic Bank Managing Director for Life Science Nishta Rao, Consigli Construction Co. head of Life Sciences Project Development Geoff Kramer, Breakthrough Properties Executive Vice President of Business Operations Susie Harborth

“I think that being as bullish as we are on the New York City biotech market — they are a couple stages behind Massachusetts — but if it's going to grow the way that we expect it to, I would expect that trend to be coming full speed just like it is there,” said Geoff Kramer, Boston-based Consigli Construction Co. head of life sciences project development. “It's going to come, it's just a matter of where best fits into the puzzle.”

The trends of using biology to create synthetic silks and leathers and plant-based meat alternatives also play to New York's strengths.

“Two of the best industries in New York you can't find anywhere else are food and fashion,” Breakthrough Properties Executive Vice President of Business Operations Susie Harborth said. “Those two things are biology convergence happening.” 

New York’s demographic diversity will also attract tenants who are hoping to effectively account for ethnic diversity in their clinical trials in precision medicine based on genome sequencing, Weill Cornell's DeRose said. 

“Because precision medicine really is tailored to each individual, and different people react differently to different medicines, depending on their genes, having that ethnic diversity in New York City is really, really important in our clinical trials,” she said. “It really is just something that really only New York City offers.” 

Diversity is also key in bringing and retaining talent in New York City, Kramer added, something that is essential to the future growth of the sector, according to speakers at the event. 

“I think the diversity is so important for attracting companies to New York, but it's also huge for the companies to attract talent,” Kramer said. “It's something that a lot of other competing clusters cannot even come close to reaching the level that New York City does … There's a certain type of person that's going to prefer, across the board, to be in New York City because of the diversity.”