New York state will spend $650 million on efforts to advance the life sciences and stimulate its economy by expanding the state’s ability to commercialize research, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said.

The initiative, announced yesterday, will consist of $250 million in tax incentives for new and existing life science companies, $200 million in state capital grants toward wet labs and accelerator or “innovation” space—and $100 million in capital for investment in early-stage life science efforts, to be matched by at least $100 million toward operating support from private partnerships.

New York aims to crack the top tier of biocluster states, including California, where company growth has outpaced job growth, and Massachusetts, which a decade ago committed $1 billion in bond funding toward building its life sciences sector with impressive results.

Despite top academic research centers and the presence of Wall Street—New York and New Jersey ranked third in this year’s GEN List of Top 10 U.S. Biopharma Clusters—the Empire State has lagged in commercializing research, incentives for early-stage companies, and biocluster development, as a 2011 report concluded.

“New York is uniquely positioned to become a global powerhouse in the life science sector, and this groundbreaking initiative is making the investments and establishing the programs necessary for capitalizing on our tremendous potential,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The state defines “life sciences” to include biopharma, biomedical technologies, life systems technologies, as well as organizations and institutions that devote most of their efforts to research, development, technology transfer, and commercialization.

Under Cuomo’s $250 million in tax incentives, existing life-sci businesses would be eligible for $10 million a year in tax credits under the existing Excelsior Jobs program, designed to attract and retain “strategic” businesses in sectors that include “scientific research and development firms creating at least five net new jobs.”

New life science businesses would receive a 15% refundable tax credit on all new qualifying R&D expenditures, while small life-sci businesses could be eligible for a 20% credit. Angel investors would receive a credit of 25% of their investment, with a maximum of $250,000 per investor.

Cuomo’s life-sci initiative includes $200 million over 10 years toward the capital needs of life-sci entities—as well as the tax-free availability of 3.2 million square feet of space and 1100 acres of developable land at 45 colleges and universities statewide.

The life-sci space and land initiative will involve new public–private partnerships that Cuomo said he will announce next month when he delivers the 2017 State of the State address.

The investment capital initiative will include a new life science launch competition, modeled on the highly successful 43North startup competition, which each year awards $5 million in prizes, including a grand price of $1 million.

New York state’s version will be a quarterly, 13-week regional launch competition where life-sci startups will compete for $25,000 grant funding. Quarterly winners will compete for one of five $100,000 top business launch prizes at a statewide annual Life Sciences Summit, where researchers, commercial firms venture funders, and policymakers are expected to agree on the next steps for continued aggressive growth of New York’s life science sector.

Cuomo’s initiative includes several measures designed to draw and nurture more life-sci talent to the state, including:

  • A paid internship program that will place students or recent graduates with life-sci companies.
  • A researcher recruitment program that will work with medical colleges and other academic programs statewide.
  • Advisory panels formed to bring together entrepreneurs and innovators with mentors to help guide them in business decisions.
  • A partnership by Cuomo’s office and the state Department of Health’s Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program that gives more than $8.5 million annually to teaching hospitals that train physicians as clinical researchers.

A new Life Sciences Advisory Board consisting of leaders from industry and academia will oversee the state’s new life-sci programs. Cuomo will announce members of the board during his upcoming State of the State address.

“The Empire State is well-positioned to be the home of future discoveries that will move our economy forward and save lives across the world,” Cuomo added.