New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has announced plans to spend $500 million on incentives designed to help create 16,000 life sciences jobs—a day after New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), a political rival of the mayor, unveiled his own $650 million life-sci incentive plan.

de Blasio’s LifeSci NYC initiative is a 10-point plan whose costliest provisions call for $300 million in tax incentives for life-sci companies seeking 2.8 million square feet of additional lab space and $100 million toward creating an “Applied Life Sciences Campus” in Long Island City or on Manhattan’s East Side—where Alexandria Real Estate Equities has attracted Eli Lilly, Roche, and other companies to its own urban biotech campus, the Alexandria Center® for Life Science-New York City.

de Blasio envisions the campus as an anchor for life-sci akin to the recently opened Cornell Tech campus for applied sciences and engineering.

Another $50 million would be set aside as capital for an expanded network of up to eight nonprofit research facilities, designed to help create new space for research deemed to have a high potential for commercialization and job growth.

Other provisions of LifeSci NYC:

  • $20 million a year toward seed and growth funding for early-stage businesses, with matching funds from private sources.
  • $10 million toward up to five new life-sci incubators and accelerators or “innovation centers”—the first of which, de Blasio said, is expected to open late next year.
  • $7.5 million to support new curricula for colleges and universities, and launch a new internship program next summer. De Blasio said the internship program will create 1000 paid internships for students at employers that include Roche and Lilly, the New York Genome Center, and investors such as Deerfield Management. The curricula would be developed with the City University of New York, other schools, and teaching hospitals.
  • Another $7.5 million to create a Life Sciences Management Corps, designed to help life sciences attract experienced entrepreneurs committed to growing companies, cultivating talent, and creating jobs.
  • $3.8 million toward expanding two training programs overseen by the public–private New York City Economic Development Corp., the Bio and Health Tech Entrepreneurship Lab (ELabNYC), which will see new curricula in areas such as corporate commercialization and project management, and SBIR Impact, which helps life sciences firms pursue funds through the NIH’s Small Business Innovation Research program.

LifeSci NYC also calls for new regulations allowing lab space for life sciences R&D in most commercial zones and a new Life Sciences Advisory Council to advise the city government on life-sci programs and promote New York city as a life-sci destination.

The advisory council will consist of members with backgrounds in academia, industry, finance, and philanthropy. Nobel laureate Harold Varmus, M.D., a former director of the NIH and its National Cancer Institute, and former president of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and currently professor at Weill Cornell Medicine and senior associate at the New York Genome Center, will co-chair the advisory panel with Vicki L. Sato, Ph.D., chair of Denali Therapeutics, a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School and of molecular and cell biology at Harvard University, and a board member of Bristol-Myers Squibb.

de Blasio said his initiative would create 9000 new direct jobs in the life sciences, and 7000 new jobs in related fields, as well as 7400 construction jobs. The city estimates that LifeSci NYC will attract $6.5 billion in additional private investment and generate $1 billion in tax revenue.

The mayor said the jobs to be created by LifeSci NYC will command average salaries of $75,000—a projection his administration emphasized in announcing the initiative on the day that the “free-market” conservative think tank Manhattan Institute released a report concluding that income inequality had widened since de Blasio took office in 2014.

A de Blasio spokeswoman, Freddi Goldstein, told the New York Daily News that the report “misses the point,” adding: “We are doing a great deal for the wages and budgets of families who need it most. We have a lot left to do, but we’re proud of that progress.”

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