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Press Release

NYCEDC, Genspace Launch Groundbreaking ‘Break into Biotech’ Training Program

Feb 01 2024
Technician working in the Genspace lab
Genspace community biology lab.

The Innovative Workforce Development Pilot Will Provide Hands-on Training, Mentorship and Career Development Opportunities to New Yorkers Seeking to Work in the Life Sciences

The Training Program Aims to Increase Opportunities in New York City’s Rapidly Growing Biotechnology Sector for Adults from All Educational Backgrounds

BROOKLYN, NY—New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Genspace, the world’s first community biology lab, today announced the launch of its groundbreaking workforce development program Break into Biotech in New York City. The pilot program will provide access to hands-on training, networking, mentorship, and career development opportunities necessary to break into New York City’s rapidly growing biotechnology sector. The program will be open to New Yorkers, who may not have a background in STEM, but want to pursue employment in the life sciences ecosystem.

NYCEDC has allocated $500,000 to Genspace to run programming that will support up to 60 participants across five cohorts. The funds, supported by LifeSci NYC – a $1 billion initiative overseen by NYCEDC to create 40,000 jobs over the next 10 to 15 years – is designed to support and accelerate the growth of New York City’s life sciences industry. The program is made possible through NYCEDC’s collaboration with Deerfield Management in support of the Cure life sciences campus.

“We are thrilled to support the Break into Biotech training program in Sunset Park – a waterfront district in South Brooklyn that is an emerging hub for innovation. New York City is dedicated to supporting the growth of future-focused innovation sectors, like biotechnology, which are poised to supercharge our current and future economy,” said NYCEDC President & CEO Andrew Kimball. “While we are building these industries from the ground up – we must ensure there are accessible career pathways for all New Yorkers. We look forward to working with Genspace on increasing opportunities in the life sciences for people from all educational backgrounds.”

"As Chair of the Committee on Economic Development I have witnessed first hand the important work LifeSci NYC carries out for our City and our up and coming leaders in life sciences. The green economy is the future of New York City’s workforce. Therefore it is essential that we bolster all New Yorkers who are looking to join and continue on in the sector. I am happy to see this community forward initiative come to fruition,” said Council Member Amanda Farías.

“This novel initiative reflects Genspace’s steadfast commitment to education and industry advancement; we are excited to embark on this journey. Break into Biotech is a transformative program designed to cultivate a diverse talent pool, drive innovation, and shape the future of New York City’s biotech ecosystem. Through this strategic collaboration and investment, we will be able to build a skilled workforce of scientists and professionals who will contribute significantly to the growth and sustainability of NYC’s life sciences sector. We are grateful for the support of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and look forward to making a lasting impact on the future of biotechnology and research,” said Meredith Beckford-Smart, PhD, Genspace Executive Director.

"The Break into Biotech program's training model is exactly what New Yorkers need to prepare them to enter the family sustaining biotechnology jobs of the 21st century,” said Abby Jo Sigal, Executive Director of the NYC Mayor's Office of Talent and Workforce Development." By providing mentoring and hands on training in a real world setting, this innovative program will create much needed pathways for New Yorkers to access emerging biotech jobs and will help New York City remain a leader in the STEM fields."

Programming will take place in Genspace’s community biology laboratory located in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Genspace aims to break down barriers and give open access to biotechnology by providing independent researchers, scientists, artists, designers, entrepreneurs, hobbyists, teachers and students a meaningful hands-on experience with the life sciences. 

The community biology laboratory provides supplies and equipment including microscopes, centrifuges, DNA sequencing and protein gel electrophoresis equipment, along with space for educational classes and STEM programming for students.

The program will take place over three months and provide students with immersive, hands-on practical lab training and experiences, gaining proficiency in essential biotech techniques and protocols. The hands-on training will consist of in-lab workshops, such as advanced lab techniques and computational methods, and project-based learning experiences aligned to students’ interests and career aspirations. The program will feature two tracks, one in traditional life sciences and one in sustainability-focused biotechnology, such as biomaterials, building on the city's commitment to advancing this industry.

The Break into Biotech program will also provide personalized insights and advice as participants navigate entering the biotech ecosystem and connect participants with networking events, and resources to enhance their entry into the biotech workforce.

According to a Department of City Planning (DCP) report Life Sciences in the NYC Metro, life sciences companies employ people with specialized skillsets, from biochemists, engineers, and laboratory technicians to research assistants and coordinators, lab managers, and many others. Those working in technician occupations, which typically do not require a bachelor’s degree and include Biological Technicians and Life, Physical, and Social Science Technicians, earn living wage salaries upwards of $50,000 in NYC. 

Sunset Park in South Brooklyn is an emerging hub for innovation. The waterfront district has extensive industrial infrastructure, a diverse array of tenants and uses, and connection to major transportation networks. NYCEDC’s primary assets in Sunset Park include the Brooklyn Army Terminal (BAT), the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, and the Made in New York Campus (MiNY). Each of these assets provides unique opportunities for innovation and business development to support and grow New York City’s economy. 

NYCEDC is leading the way in advancing the city’s green economy sector by seeking to establish a Climate Innovation Hub at BAT, part of the 200+ acres of waterfront NYCEDC manages in Sunset Park. Click here to learn more about the vision for the Climate Innovation Hub at BAT at one of the upcoming webinars and complete a partner form to register your interest with other potential partners.

Last December, Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul unveiled the Science Park and Research Campus (SPARC) Kips Bay Master Plan for this first-of-its-kind life sciences career and education hub that will anchor the city’s industry. The master plan unveils key project details, including a new site plan and conceptual design, a new model for education and job training pipelines, and updated economic impact projections showing how significantly it will further New York City's role as a global leader in creating and attracting accessible jobs in life sciences, health care, and public health by creating a pipeline from local public schools to careers in these essential sectors. The project is expected to create more than 15,000 total jobs and generate $42 billion in economic impact.

Additionally, last December, NYCEDC and Aanika Biosciences announced the opening of a new 27,000 square foot facility in Industry City, establishing The Aanika Center for Food Safety and Innovation. This investment helps cement New York City’s place as a global leader in sustainability-focused biotech and marks a continued commitment to supporting biotech innovation for climate and sustainability solutions. Last May, NYCEDC invested $800,000 to the cutting-edge biotech company as part of the LifeSci NYC Expansion Fund which helps life sciences companies expand their operations in one of New York City’s five boroughs. 

This new program also builds on significant progress the Adams administration has made to create and attract accessible jobs in life sciences and delivers on a key recommendation to invest in the sector from Mayor Adams and New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s “New' New York: Making New York Work for Everyone” plan. 

With over 500 biotech companies working on cutting edge research and development and a workforce of approximately 20,000 people, life sciences will drive significant growth for New Yorkers to a tune of over $82 billion worth of cumulative economic impact over the next 10-15 years. Combined with New York City’s 355,000-person tech workforce, the intersection of the City’s growing life sciences industry and the very established tech ecosystem are poised to supercharge New York City’s economy. 

Applications are open to adults with or without STEM degrees, no prior experience is required. This includes people who are: changing careers or looking to start on a career pathway in the life sciences; high school graduates or have a GED but aren’t interested in going to college right now; curious about working in the life sciences field; and recent college graduates who want more lab experience for their resume. If you are interested in applying to the Break into Biotech program, click here.

New York City Economic Development Corporation is a mission-driven, nonprofit organization that works for a vibrant, inclusive, and globally competitive economy for all New Yorkers. We take a comprehensive approach, through four main strategies: strengthen confidence in NYC as a great place to do business; grow innovative sectors with a focus on equity; build neighborhoods as places to live, learn, work, and play; and deliver sustainable infrastructure for communities and the city's future economy. To learn more about what we do, visit us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

About Genspace
Genspace is the world’s first community biology lab — a place where people of all backgrounds can learn, create, and grow with the life sciences. Since 2009, we have served the greater New York area by providing hands-on STEAM education programs for youth and adults, cultural and outreach events for the public, and a membership program to support New York’s community of creatives, researchers, and entrepreneurs. Our programs demystify scientific processes, provide a platform for innovation, and cultivate the next generation of life sciences leaders in emerging global technologies, such as biotechnology, neuroscience, epidemiology, genomics, and many more.