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A Site Selection Web Exclusive, June 2017
WEB Exclusive story

Startup Launchpad Opens in Booming Big Apple Cluster

Alexandria LaunchLabs, located on the 14th floor of the West Tower (430 East 29th Street) at the Alexandria Center for Life Science in New York, opened its doors to its first 13 member companies on June 1.
Current Alexandria LaunchLabs member companies are focused on a wide range of technologies, including: 3D Printing of Personalized living tissues, gene-therapy-based cancer vaccines, synthetic genome engineering and ultrasound-based skin cancer treatment.
Current Alexandria LaunchLabs member companies are focused on a wide range of technologies, including: 3D Printing of Personalized living tissues, gene-therapy-based cancer vaccines, synthetic genome engineering and ultrasound-based skin cancer treatment.

As the 2016 Life Sciences Outlook from JLL reported in December, the Big Apple's life sciences cluster is growing rapidly: Some 3.6 million sq. ft. of Class A lab space was under construction, and Cornell University's 2.1-million-sq.-ft. applied sciences campus will be delivered this year.

The latest life sciences workspace from Alexandria Real Estate Equities was delivered this week, as the REIT's new startup platform LaunchLabs held its grand opening at Alexandria Center for Life Science – New York City. The occasion was punctuated by the awarding of the inaugural Alexandria LaunchLabs $100,000 Entrepreneurship Prize to Neochromosome, a company that Alexandria in-house scientist Jenna Foger said has “the ability to change the face of science.”

According to an Alexandria release, the idea of LaunchLabs is "to satisfy key unmet needs for turn-key office/laboratory space and access to strategic risk capital for seed-stage life science companies, many of which have spun out of NYC’s academic medical institutions."

To date, 13 initial member companies have been accepted to Alexandria LaunchLabs from a competitive pool of over 115 applicants. They represent intellectual property from as close as Cornell, Columbia and NYU, and as far away as University of Maryland, Oklahoma, Ohio, Vienna and Paris:

·       3d Bio: 3D bioprinting company focused on creating personalized living tissue implants
· Engineered Immunotherapies -
·       Beagle Bioscience: Novel early-stage drug discovery platform
·       Chimeron Bio: Synthetic viral particle gene delivery system for engineered mRNA immunotherapies
·       East River BioSolutions: Innovative Native Tissue Matrix Biomaterials
·       ENB Therapeutics: Cancer therapeutics company focused on overcoming drug resistance to immuno-oncology agents
·       Gotham Therapeutics: Allosteric Modulation of Validated Drug Targets
·       Hookipa Biotech: Immunotherapy Vaccines
·       Neochromosome: Designs, builds, and optimizes entire synthetic chromosomes that augment a host cell’s genetic information, analogous to upgrading a computer’s operating system
·       Renovo Pharmaceuticals: Developing small molecule drugs that increase plasticity within tissue lesion sites after injury
·       Gencove (fka Seeq Labs): Developing a sequencing approach that allows researchers to conduct inexpensive and powerful genomic studies at scale, and a mobile app that allows consumers to explore their ancestry and microbiome while helping to drive research forward
·       Sevengenes: Enhancing Small Molecule Oncology Drugs
·       Sonify Biosciences: Ultrasound-Based Hyperthermia

These member companies will have the opportunity to apply for seed funding through the Alexandria Seed Capital Platform, which is led by Alexandria Venture Investments. Since 2014, Alexandria Venture Investments has invested in New York City early-stage life science startups that have in turn raised an aggregate of $365 million to date. They include:

  1. Accelerator Corporation - $62.8M
  2. Petra Pharma - $48M Series A
  3. Lodo Therapeutics - $17M Series A
  4. Kallyope - $44M Series A
  5. Lycera – $30M Series B
  6. Bridge Medicines – (not yet disclosed)
  7. MeiraGTx - $8.7M Series A; $37M Series C
  8. TARA Biosystems – $2.25M Seed; $6M Series 
  9. Applied Therapeutics - (not yet disclosed)
  10. Rgenix – $8M Series A; $33M Series B

“Alexandria is proudly committed to providing dedicated startup space as well as significant human and strategic risk capital to ensure the continued growth and success of the NYC life science cluster,” said Foger, senior principal of science and technology of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. and Alexandria Venture Investments. “Through Alexandria LaunchLabs and our Seed Capital Platform, we will help catalyze the next generation of life science companies in NYC to develop biomedical breakthroughs that will treat and cure so many otherwise life-threatening diseases.”

The JLL report ranked New York City's cluster No. 11 in the US, just behind New Jersey and just ahead of Minneapolis, Denver and Chicago. The NYC submarket saw nearly 20-percent growth in year-over-year lab rents, and attracted 6.1 percent of VC funding among the 16 clusters JLL ranked (including No. 9 Westchester County just to the north, and No. 16 Long Island).

The life sciences sector in New York City has seen 16 percent growth in jobs since 2009.

The 2017 Global Startup Ecosystems report published by Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurs Network ranked New York second in the world, based largely on its financial and technology clusters and its attractiveness as a launch pad for entering the US market. Though the report hardly mentioned the city's life sciences cluster, Flight VC Partner Lou Kerner told the report's authors that the creation of CornellTech will increase the supply of engineers in an area where they're hard to come by and, therefore, high-priced. According to the report, New York City is the second largest ecosystem in the world by number of startups, with about 6,300-7,800 startups. (Watch for further coverage of global startup ecosystems in the July issue of Site Selection.)

The City of New York Early-Stage Life Sciences Funding Initiative, backed by a public-private partnership, is expected to back the creation of 2,000 life sciences jobs over the next few years. In May, New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced the official formation of the Mayor’s Life Sciences Advisory Council, a group of experts from academia, commercial R&D, finance, and philanthropy that will provide guidance and secure strategic partnerships as the city executes on LifeSci NYC, a $500-million initiative (see chart) to create an estimated 16,000 good-paying jobs and establish New York City as a global leader in life sciences research and development. 

At LaunchLabs, prize winner Neochromosome was founded by Jef Boeke, Ph.D., director of New York University Langone’s Institute for Systems Genetics, and Joel Bader, Ph.D., interim director of the High Throughput Biology Center at Johns Hopkins University.

“New York City has always been a premier location for breakthrough scientific ideas and access to visionaries willing to invest in them,” said Dr. Bader. “Alexandria LaunchLabs fills a crucial need for lab space at the intersection of high tech and biotech."

This view of Bloomberg Center at the new Cornell University applied sciences campus on Roosevelt Island was taken from the Queensboro Bridge in August 2016. The campus's first phase will be delivered this year.

Adam Bruns
Managing Editor of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns has served as managing editor of Site Selection magazine since February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


The Site Selection Life Sciences Report features exclusive and in-depth reporting and analysis on the most important life science projects and issues. Topics covered include pharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing, biotechnology, medical device manufacturing, health-care services facility trends, clinical research and other key life science sectors.


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