• WCA Working to Partner with New York City Innovators and Accelerator Candidates

  • SEPTEMBER 22, 2014

  • BLUEPRINT Accelerator Network Seen as a Resource for Early-Stage Companies

  • Key to the New York metro area becoming a successful biotech cluster is the availability of affordable lab space for the region's innovators in biotechnology and life sciences. That’s why a group of post-doctoral researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai formed the nonprofit organization, Keystone for Incubating Innovation of Life Sciences (KiiLN). They are aggressively seeking space for prospective entrepreneurs as they nurture the biotech innovation in New York City and beyond. And that’s why the Westchester County Association—advocates for the region's growth as a healthcare innovation hub—met with KiiLN’s principals to discuss how the organizations could work together to support life science entrepreneurship. 


    Amy Allen, Marissa Brett, WCA; Charlene Ngamwajasat,KiiLN; Joelle DiNardi, WCA; Nicole McKnight, KiiLN.

    “We know from our Health Tech conference that we need to collaborate with incubators, economic development groups, venture capitalists, and educational institutions in New York City, where finding space is difficult for entrepreneurs and young companies, ” said Marissa Brett, president. “Biotech and medtech are already driving demand for office space in Westchester, and the county is well-positioned to house additional ventures coming out of Manhattan.”

    A relationship between the WCA and KiiLN could be mutually beneficial, according to Nicole McKnight, scientist, co-founder of KiiLN, and a current postdoctoral fellow in Neurology. “It really could go both ways,” she said. “The WCA’s BLUEPRINT Accelerator Network may encounter entrepreneurs for whom KiiLN makes more sense, as we are really looking for very young startups at the seed funding stage, and the Accelerator serves as a resource for companies beyond incubation, who a little further along.”

    KiiLN is now fundraising and eyeing up potential space in northern Manhattan to house an incubator of up to 30,000 square feet, with close proximity to the city’s medical corridor and to another incubator, Harlem Biospace (whose founder, Samuel Sia, was a featured speaker at Health Tech '14).. They’ve lined up corporate sponsors and put a call out for letters of intent to potential tenants. The all-female team is close to making their dream a reality.

    “We want to say to any entrepreneur in the life sciences, come to the New York area,” said Charlene Ngamwajasat, M.D., a principal at KiiLN. “There’s momentum. It’s really happening here.”

    New York’s path to becoming a biotech hub will be different than Silicon Valley’s, noted Brett.

    “New York City doesn’t have space to grow, and that’s a challenge,” she said. “With Westchester County’s own $15 billion healthcare industry, sprawling biotechnology campuses, excellent transportation system, culture, and quality of life, we are a perfect fit to serve as an extension of Manhattan’s Innovation Economy. Our outreach to KiiLN is part of the WCA’s strategic plan to position the county as the place to grow biotech, medtech, and health tech ventures.” 

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