Empire State Development Announces Life Science Entrepreneur Development Grant Awards

July 16, 2021

Grants Encourage Collaboration Between Business Schools and Graduate Life Science Programs to Develop Industry Talent Pipeline

Advances Growing Investment in New York’s Life Science Ecosystem, which Tripled in 2020

Empire State Development (ESD) today announced recipients of grants that address the growing need for entrepreneurial talent in New York’s life science ecosystem, especially given the state’s growing attractiveness to private investors as a hub for emerging life science companies. These entrepreneur development grants, first announced by Governor Cuomo in 2019, will help close the talent gap that had previously limited life science commercialization in the state and will develop entrepreneurs with the mix of skills and expertise needed to successfully guide innovative life science startups along the path to commercial viability.

Life Science venture investment in New York in FY2020 reached $.73 for every dollar of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding received by New York’s life science research institutions, a major jump from $.13 for every NIH dollar in 2016. With an increase in life science investment of this magnitude, the need for entrepreneurial talent is more critical than ever.

Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said, “Empire State Development is strongly committed to building a robust life science industry in New York State. By developing the specialized entrepreneurial talent needed by life science companies right here in New York, we will be better equipped to advance the discovery research conducted at our world-class academic centers and retain that research in New York as it moves closer to commercialization.”

Five graduate schools of business working in collaboration with graduate programs in the life sciences have been awarded grants of up to $500,000 each to implement a new MBA concentration or certificate in life science entrepreneurship. Collaborations between the business school and life science graduate program are critical to equipping students with the skills needed to become leaders in New York’s growing life science ecosystem.

The grant recipients represent six different regions of the state:

  • Cornell University & SC Johnson College of Business (Southern Tier, New York City): The SC Johnson College of Business will partner with the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the College of Engineering, and other graduate programs in life science areas to create a 12-credit Certificate in Life Science Entrepreneurship called the BioEntrepreneurship Fellows Program.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute & Lally School of Management (Capital):  The Lally School of Management will partner with the School of Science, the School of Engineering, and the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to create a 21-credit MBA Concentration in Life Science Entrepreneurship, along with a shorter, 12-credit Certificate Program available to students at both RPI and Mt. Sinai.
  • Rochester Institute of Technology, Saunders College of Business (Finger Lakes):  The Saunders College of Business will partner with the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, the College of Science, and the Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences to create an online Executive MBA Concentration in Life Science Entrepreneurship with three tracks for students to choose from: Biomedical Engineering, Bioinformatics, and a customizable option.
  • Stony Brook University, College of Business (Long Island):  The College of Business will partner with the Center for Biotechnology and Department of Biomedical Engineering to create a 16-credit Life Sciences Innovations and Entrepreneurship Advanced Graduate Certificate for all life science graduate students within the university and region.
  • University at Buffalo, School of Management (Western New York):  The School of Management will partner with the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center to create a 12-credit MBA Concentration and Advanced Graduate Certificate in Life Sciences Entrepreneurship.

Cornell University SC Johnson College of Business Dean Andrew Karolyi said, “We are very grateful for this exciting opportunity to partner with New York’s Empire State Development in creating this certificate in life science entrepreneurship. This program has the potential to create new and innovative opportunities for our students who aspire to build a better world in life science commercialization. The program will bring together talent from across Cornell University and leverage the vast expertise found in our graduate programs, including MBA and Ph.D. programs. It’s a truly collaborative initiative which can ultimately leverage business innovation and entrepreneurship and lead to transformative change.”

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Provost Prabhat Hajela, Ph.D. said, “This forward-looking grant from New York State will enable the Lally School of Management at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to leverage its particular strengths in order to address a pressing need in our society. Not only does Lally have an established legacy of developing successful entrepreneurs, it is also uniquely situated within the country’s first technological research university. Rensselaer is committed to advancing research in biotechnology and the life sciences through multi-disciplinary collaborations, both within the Institute and with our partners at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.”

Rochester Institute of Technology Saunders College of Business Dean and Professor Jacqueline R. Mozrall said, “RIT and Saunders College of Business are excited for this opportunity, supported by Empire State Development's Entrepreneur Development Grant, to develop and deliver a customized program that will serve to bridge our nationally ranked Online Executive MBA with the rich portfolio of life sciences, engineering and computing expertise found at RIT. This initiative will position entrepreneurs to drive commercial applications and job creation in the life sciences.” 

Stony Brook University College of Business Dean and Distinguished Professor Manuel London, Ph.D. said, “Stony Brook is very excited to be developing this curriculum for graduate students in the biomedical sciences here on Long Island, and expect that it will fuel both technology development and company formation here in the region.  As a collaboration between the College of Business and the Center for Biotechnology, we are confident that an interdisciplinary program like this, enabled by Empire State Development Life Sciences, will help our outstanding graduate students of today become the innovators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow.”

University at Buffalo School of Management Dean and Professor Paul Tesluk, Ph.D. said, “We are excited to build through collaborations with multiple schools at UB, Roswell Park Cancer Center, and regional life sciences companies a highly innovative academic and experiential learning program focused on developing the entrepreneurial, managerial and executive talent needed to deliver innovative and impactful technology-driven life science solutions in NYS.”

The Life Science Entrepreneur Development Grant Program was created to promote a culture of entrepreneurship within life science-focused academia, as well as to encourage academic scientists to direct their research toward commercial applications. This grant program included two stages. Stage 1 provided grants of up to $50,000 each to develop a detailed plan for a life science entrepreneurship graduate program.  A total of 18 academic institutions submitted applications, of which seven were chosen to receive a planning grant. Of these seven schools, five were selected to receive Stage 2 implementation grants of up to $500,000 each. These institutions are expected to launch their programs within 12 to 18 months.

New York State's $620 Million Life Science Initiative

New York State enacted a $620 million initiative to spur the growth of a world-class life sciences 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, leveraging private sector investment, includes tax credits, capital grants, and operational support. The initiative includes the $40 million New York State Biodefense Commercialization Fund, created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to capitalize on New York’s research and development assets in infectious diseases and expertise in life sciences, biotechnology, and biodefense.

The life sciences 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 cancer and neurological diseases. 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 as a magnet for emerging manufacturing-based enterprises, bolstering regional economies and creating thousands of jobs.

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