Governor Cuomo Announces Groundbreaking $650 Million Initiative to Fuel Growth of a World-Class Life Science Cluster in New York

December 12, 2016

Initiative Makes Capital, Operating Support and Tax Incentives Available to Life Science Companies to Support the Growth of Research and Development

More Than 3.2 Million Square Feet of Innovation Space and 1,100 Acres of Developable Land Available Tax Free at 45 Colleges and Universities Statewide

New Programs Will Help Develop Research and Entrepreneurial Talent Necessary for Growing New York’s Life Science Sector

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a groundbreaking new $650 million initiative to spur the growth of a new, world-class life science research cluster in New York, as well as expand the state’s ability to commercialize this research and grow the economy. This multi-faceted initiative includes $250 million in tax incentives for new and existing life science companies, $200 million in state capital grants to support investment in wet-lab and innovation space, $100 million in investment capital for early stage life science initiatives, with an additional match of at least $100 million for operating support from private sector partnerships.

"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," Governor Cuomo said. "From providing the incentives to attract top talent and drive innovation, to providing the space that emerging life science companies need to grow, we are breaking down barriers and helping the industry gain momentum. Now, 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."

The Life Science sector encompasses the fields of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biomedical technologies, life systems technologies, and includes organizations and institutions that devote the majority of their efforts to the various stages of research, development, technology transfer and commercialization. Every day, firms in this sector are developing new medical and pharmaceutical breakthroughs that have the potential to save lives, whether through new therapies or the early detection of diseases like autism and cancer. These firms are also making significant advancements in the realms of agriculture and environmental biotechnologies, helping create a cleaner and more sustainable future.

By strengthening incentives, investing in the facilities, and improving access to talent and expertise, New York will significantly increase its share of industry-funded research and development, support the commercialization of existing academic research, and usher in the next generation of advanced technologies. Beyond the advancements in science, this initiative will position New York to be a magnet for emerging manufacturing based enterprises, bolstering regional economies and creating thousands of jobs.

Specifically, the Governor’s life science initiative includes:

Providing $250 Million in Tax Incentives for New and Existing Life Sciences Companies that are Expanding Research and Development
To better compete with other states actively poaching New York’s top life science research talent, the state must draw more capital to this sector from early stage and angel investors, as well as make it more attractive for existing and new firms in life sciences to locate, invent, commercialize and produce here in New York.

Under the Governor’s program:

  • Existing life science businesses would be eligible for an annual allocation of $10 million in Excelsior tax credits;
  • New life science businesses would receive a 15 percent refundable tax credit on all new qualifying research and development expenditures. Small businesses in the life sciences industry could be eligible for a 20 percent credit.
  • Angel investors would receive a credit of 25 percent of their investment, with a maximum of $250,000 per investor.

Providing $200 Million in State Capital Grants and Offering More Than 3.2 Million Square Feet of Space and 1,100 acres of Developable Land Tax Free to Accelerate Life Science Innovation

Innovation in the life sciences requires state-of-the-art laboratory space, equipment and technology. The Governor’s initiative invests $200 million, over ten years, to support the capital needs of life science entities, positioning New York’s wet labs and innovation space to be the place where future technologies are born.

Additionally, the lack of affordable and appropriate lab space has been cited as a barrier to New York reaching its potential in the life sciences. To remedy this, the state will also make more than 3.2 million square feet of innovation space and 1,100 acres of developable land available tax free at 45 colleges and universities statewide. The availability of grants, land and space creates an unprecedented opportunity to expand access to wet labs, infrastructure and other equipment essential for life sciences research, innovation and development.

Click here for a regional breakdown of the available innovation space and developable land.

Governor Cuomo will announce new public-private sector partnerships resulting from this effort during the 2017 State of the State Address.

Providing $100 Million in Investment Capital for Early Stage Life Sciences Initiatives, Matched by at least $100 Million from the Private Sector
As part of New York’s commitment to the growth of this sector, the state is pledging $100 million for additional investment capital for early stage life science firms. In addition, private sector partnerships are also pledging matching funds for investment and operational support, bringing the total commitment to $200 million.

Part of the investment will include a new life science launch competition, modeled on the highly successful 43North innovation competition, will further support the growth of this sector. New York State will host a quarterly, 13-week regional life science launch competition in which firms in the midst of conducting groundbreaking research and developing emerging technologies would compete for $25,000 grant funding. All the quarterly winners will then compete for one of five $100,000 top business launch prizes at a statewide annual Life Sciences Summit, which will gather top researchers, commercial firms venture funders and policymakers together to strategize next steps for continued aggressive growth of the life science sector.

Developing Research and Entrepreneurial Talent Necessary for Launching and Growing Life Science Businesses
Access to talent and management expertise continues to be needed in order for early stage life science firms to succeed. In order to grow this talent base in New York, Governor Cuomo is establishing programs and partnerships that will attract top flight researchers to work with our academic centers and medical schools on the latest life science innovations. These include:

  • A Life Sciences Internship Program will leverage New York’s network of public/private academic centers to facilitate the placement of students--or recent graduates--enrolled in a life science field of study at a college or university located in New York into paid internships with a partnering life science company.
  • A life sciences researcher recruitment program that will work with our academic medical colleges and other academic programs to attract top-flight life sciences researchers.
  • Entrepreneurial Advisory Panels in Life Sciences that will match entrepreneurs and innovators with a panel of mentors that will help guide them in their business decisions, increasing the rate of success and growth of new firms in New York State.
  • Partnership with the Empire Clinical Research Investigator Program administered by the New York State Department of Health, which provides over $8.5 million annually to teaching hospitals that train physicians as clinical researchers in order to advance life sciences research in New York to attract and retain the best life sciences researchers.

The Governor’s multi-pronged approach will be guided by a new Life Sciences Advisory Board, comprised of leaders in multiple life science disciplines, both from industry and academia. The membership of the board will be announced with the Governor’s 2017 State of the State address.

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, "New York State is home to many leading research institutions and life-science clusters. Governor Cuomo’s newest initiative will spur an unprecedented investment in the life science sector, which is one of the world’s fastest growing innovation industries."

SUNY Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher said, "SUNY colleges and universities provide students with engaging instruction, advanced research opportunities, and hands-on work experience in a wide array of fields, with interest in the life sciences is growing every day. We look forward to working with our agency and business partners throughout New York State not only to provide state-of-the-art facilities lab spaces, facilities, and equipment for this exciting new initiative, but also to broaden the access our students have to applied learning opportunities in the life sciences."

CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken said, "CUNY’s new strategic planning is centered on key collaborations with partners in the public and private sectors, and today’s announcement by Governor Cuomo of an exciting life sciences initiative offers much opportunity to partner with leading businesses and provide CUNY students valuable experiences that will help launch successful careers. We are grateful to the Governor for this investment that will do much to connect CUNY students and faculty with the growing life sciences sector."

Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities President Laura L. Anglin said, "Today Governor Cuomo is again boldly leveraging the expertise of New York's colleges and universities to advance economic development in the state. Private, not-for-profit campuses in every corner of the state will be partnering with life science companies to spur critical developments and to provide key learning opportunities for students."

The Business Council of New York State President and CEO Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., said, "The life and bio science sector is a key contributor to our state’s economy, and we should be doing more to encourage additional investment and improve the talent pool for this vital industry. According to our research, the life science sector accounts for a quarter of a million jobs and billions in wages in New York State, and generates significant federal funds. We applaud the Governor for announcing this initiative and ensuring New York keeps pace with, and surpasses, the bio science investment of our fellow states."

Partnership for New York City President Kathryn Wylde said, "The Governor’s decision to build a state-wide life sciences industry cluster will be a catalyst for creation of more than 25,000 new jobs and over $3 billion in additional economic activity according to our analysis, putting New York State on a par with California and Massachusetts as the nation’s premiere centers of commercial life sciences."

Simons Foundation Chair James Simons said, "An investment by the State in the Life Sciences is of great benefit. This type of funding will have a positive impact both on our economy and our ability to drive scientific innovation."

Yumanity Therapeutics Chairman and CEO Dr. Tony Cole said, "As we observed in Massachusetts, focused leadership and resources can mobilize and accelerate the development of a new growth sector. Given the rapid progress we are making with cutting-edge science, this commitment by the state will attract jobs, create economic growth and help translate new science into treatments."

Roche Pharma Research and Early Development Global Head of Clinical Development Judith Dunn said, "Roche established an Innovation Center in New York because we see this as one of the world’s most promising locations for life sciences activity driven by revolutionary science and technology. We are hopeful that clinical and commercial life sciences here will continue to flourish, and that the Governor’s program will accelerate New York’s status as a premier industry hub and encourage significant private investment in emerging companies here."

Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth E. Raske said, "Governor Cuomo’s plan to make New York State a global leader in the life sciences industry is the latest example of his deep commitment to New York’s hospital community and the patients we serve. This important initiative will support our world-class academic medical centers and research institutions as they pursue medical breakthroughs and therapeutic health care solutions. I applaud the Governor for his vision and leadership."

Pfizer Worldwide Research & Development President Dr. Mikael Dolsten said, "This effort by the State to grow a strong life sciences industry cluster will help sustain and expand an R&D ecosystem needed to take head-on some of society’s most serious diseases. With the governor’s leadership, academic institutions, foundations, government institutions, biopharmaceutical companies and physicians are invited to come together to advance a vibrant life science sector in the State. Partnership, investment and leadership are the pillars of this proposal and Pfizer is supportive of its passage and success which further enhances our recent decision to maintain our headquarters in New York City."

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has made unprecedented investments in the knowledge economy. Over the past five years, New York’s Centers for Advanced Technology and Centers of Excellence programs helped create or retain 22,396 jobs and generate $4.9 billion in economic impact. Additionally, the Governor’s Innovation Hot Spots and New York State Certified Business Incubators programs, which provide mentorship, shared facilities and product development services to early-stage companies, have generated over $177 million in economic impact in their first year. New York Manufacturing Extension Partnership, which assists small manufacturers to design and implement product and process innovation, helped create or retain 20,677 jobs and generated nearly $3.4 billion in economic impact.

Acting through the pioneering programs of the New York State Department of Health’s Wadsworth Center Laboratory, Governor Cuomo has also invested more than $216 million to further basic, applied, translational or other research and development activities that will advance scientific discoveries in fields related to stem cell biology through the New York State Stem Cell Science program; $5.5 million to support breast cancer research studies and education projects through the Health Research and Science Board program; and $24 million in research grants to find a cure for spinal cord injuries through the Spinal Cord Injury Research Board.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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