New Biotech Incubator Just Opened Up in the Big Apple—With Room for 25 Startups

Published: Jun 16, 2017

New Biotech Incubator Just Opened Up in the Big Apple—With Room for 25 Startups June 15, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

NEW YORK – Startup biotech companies have a new place to call home in downtown Manhattan thanks to Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

On Tuesday, the ribbon was cut at the new Alexandria LaunchLabs at the Alexandria Center for Life Science, a full-service startup platform designed to satisfy key unmet needs for plug-and-play space and strategic risk capital for seed- and early-stage life science companies in New York City. So far 13 companies have made the new location their home to develop new therapies and technologies to treat a wide variety of health needs. The products in development include 3D printing of personalized living tissues, gene therapy-based cancer vaccines, synthetic genome engineering, non-invasive tissue regeneration, next-generation scalable genomics, and ultrasound-based skin cancer treatment.

The new innovation center includes 15,000 square feet of lab and office space that is currently the home to 13 startup companies. At capacity, the facility is expected to house about 25 companies.

“The space we provide is just step one,” Blake L. Stevens, general manager of the LaunchLabs, said in a telephone interview following the June 13 grand opening ceremony. “Once they are in the space, there are a lot of other options for these companies.”

Stevens said the companies, once they become part of the Alexandria LaunchLabs family, have access to strategic risk capital for funding through the Alexandria Seed Capital Platform, expertise in early-stage company building, as well as a broad range of advisers through the “broader Alexandria platform.”

That seed capital is important for life sciences companies, said Jenna Foger, senior principal of science and technology of Alexandria Real Estate Equities and Alexandria Venture Investments. Although there are numerous venture capital sources in New York, Foger said there is not often a lot of risk capital for life science companies due to the longer turnaround periods for investors.

“You need to have the educated venture capitalist to understand the market and help them (life science companies) grow,” Foger said.

Providing space for startups in New York City is crucial for the life science eco system, Foger said. She said the space not only helps the startups, but makes New York City one of the premier destinations for life science companies.

“This is critical for New York and solves an unmet need in the city,” Stevens said. “In terms of the New York market, any kind of concern is where do the early-stage companies go? Here we have one space, but there’s lots of demand.”

Stevens added that the location puts the startup companies close to many of the leading surgeons and physicians in the medical community who can be tapped as resources.

The 13 companies that currently call the LaunchLabs home were selected from a pool of 115 applicants, with about three-fourths coming from academia. Companies include 3d Bio, Aratinga.bio, Beagle Bioscience, Chimeron Bio, East River BioSolutions, Hookipa Biotech, Sevengenes and more. Lab and office space is rented on a flexible package basis that can include various combinations of open office workstations, lab benches in a shared suite, private offices and/or private labs.

Stevens said some of the companies in the LaunchLab occupy “a desk and a bench, while some are four or five benches.” Part of his job, he said, is to determine when these startups need to begin looking for new space outside of the LaunchLab. But, those companies won’t be cast out. Alexandria has a number of real estate options that could be available, he said.

As part of the grand opening celebration one of the companies housed in the innovation center, Neochromosome, was selected as the winner of the inaugural $100,000 Alexandria LaunchLabs Entrepreneurship Prize. Neochromosome’s mission is to address a broad array of applications that cannot be met using gene-at-a-time engineering. Neochromosome designs, builds and optimizes synthetic chromosomes that augment a host cell’s genetic information.

While the Alexandria LaunchLab is a unique innovation center, Foger said it may not be a one-of-a-kind site. She said the company is looking at opening up other facilities in New York, or possible expand to other markets where Alexandria already has a presence, including Cambridge, Mass., the Bay Area in California or the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.

“We’re really building a pipeline of growth. We want to get the startups in the LaunchLab and then provide the space for them to grow. We have 13 amazing companies in the space and we’re looking forward to filling it out,” Foger said.

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