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NY Stem Cell Foundation Grows, Eyes Forming Big Apple Bio Incubator

Xconomy New York — 

Over the past few years, the first biotech startup incubators have popped up in New York City in places like Brooklyn and West Harlem. And there’s a chance the next one may come from an unlikely source: a nonprofit organization known as the New York Stem Cell Foundation.

According to Susan Solomon, the CEO and co-founder of the NYSCF—a roughly 10-year-old entity that is one of the world leaders in stem cell research—the nonprofit plans to start spinning out its work into companies, and wants to create an in-house incubator as part of that effort. The NYSCF just signed a lease to move into a new home (pictured above) on West 54th St. and 11th Ave. in Manhattan, where it’ll have over 40,000 square feet of space—more than double what it currently has.

Perhaps the biggest item on the NYSCF’s agenda is finding ways to commercialize its work, something it hasn’t done as of yet. That’s where the incubator comes in.

“There’s a lot of interest in it, we’re approached all the time by people who have ideas and technology and intellectual property and want to start companies,” Solomon says. “So we’ll have to see—hopefully we’ll be able to get some support to do that.”

If the NYSCF were to follow through with this, it would be at least the third biotech startup incubator to form in New York City. Manhattan’s first biotech incubator, Harlem Biospace, started up in 2013, adding to the city’s other one up and running at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, known as BioBAT. Versant Ventures started another incubator in Chelsea earlier this year called Highline Therapeutics—albeit Highline is more an outpost for Versant to work with academic institutions to create companies, rather than a co-working space. Efforts like these are sorely needed for a life sciences scene that, even with all of its prolific academic institutions, is a long way away from having the biotech startup ecosystem that regions like Boston and San Francisco do.

One big reason for this problem is the perpetual struggle to secure and develop affordable lab space. As Rockefeller University president and former Genentech chief scientific officer Marc Tessier-Lavigne, one of the ringleaders in the city’s life sciences scene, said at the recent Biotech and Money conference in New York in November: “If we can solve that, everything else will fall into place.”

Incubators are one of the solutions, as is the New York City Economic Development Corp.’s plan to find space for a “step out” incubator, so biotech startups can stay local while they grow and hire more employees. The NYCEDC earlier this year also … Next Page »

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