Officials’ tour of BioBAT location highlights hope for bio-based economic growth

July 21, 2021 Jaime DeJesus
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Some firms eyeing space there are working on COVID-related solutions

Officials from the city Economic Development Corp., SUNY Downstate Medical Center and IAVI (an organization that develops vaccines and antibodies for HIV, tuberculosis and emerging infectious diseases) were impressed when they toured the BioBAT life science incubator at the Brooklyn Army Terminal on Tuesday, after the announcement of a $50 million capital investment from LifeSci NYC.

The officials toured not only the present space for life science tenants, but also the eventual area that will be modeled.    

“The BAT is a crown jewel in the city’s assets, and it’s really about providing affordable manufacturing space in the city for growing companies,” said NYCEDC President and CEO Rachel Loeb during the tour at the space that will eventually be home to several companies.  “We see science as part of the future in the economy.

The investment made at BioBat through EDC’s partnership with SUNY Downstate has been made to create affordable manufacturing spaces, life science and “wet lab spaces” for growing companies that can stay in New York City and grow and expand in Brooklyn. Wet lab spaces are places where chemicals, drugs and other biological material are tested in areas needing water, direct ventilation and specialized piped utilities.  

Mark Feinberg, president and CEO of IAVI, explains the work his organization has done at BioBAT

BioBAT President Doctor Eva Cramer wants the companies in the space as quickly as possible and hopes that it can finish within two years.

“It’s been wonderful,” she said of the investment. “The fact the city is going to help us with funds makes it all possible. The companies are doing terrific. Many of them are working on COVID-related activities. Two of those COVID companies want to be here and take the (new) space.”

BioBat has been a part of the terminal since 2009. The $50 million investment will help convert a massive space for the second half of the area ready to take in new tenants. 

Throughout the pandemic, BioBAT had companies working on everything from vaccines to diagnostics and therapeutics to clinical studies. 

“That’s one of the reasons the city was able to respond the way they did,” said Susan Rosenthal, senior vice president for Life Sciences and Healthcare Initiatives for EDC. “We just want to make sure that as that science is developing, in genetics or diagnostics we want to make sure that’s happening across the city and Brooklyn is one of the clusters we’ve identified.” 

At the current facilities, Mark Feinberg, president and CEO of IAVI, explained that his organization, originally formed to develop an HIV vaccine, focuses on a number of infectious diseases. Its scope expanded to focus on diseases of epidemic and pandemic potential

“Things have changed a lot over that time, but a lot of discoveries have emerged from that time as well and a lot of interesting work taking place here,” he said. “It’s connecting Brooklyn to the world and providing meaningful and good jobs for a lot of people that want to make the world a better place.”

Julie Stein, senior vice president of EDC, said although BAT focuses on traditional and advanced manufacturing, it also has a large science presence. 

“BAT is the premiere hub for portal manufacturing in New York City and presents unique opportunities for life sciences,” she said.

Part of a tour of the current and active BioBAT space at the Brooklyn Army Terminal.

Back in June, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to double the city’s $500 million investment in life sciences to $1 billion as part of LifeSci NYC, a commitment launched in the Mayor’s State of the City address to create jobs and establish New York City as the global leader in life sciences.

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