Program will Accelerate Commercialization Efforts by Early Stage Companies and Late Stage Academic Research for Infectious Disease Solutions While Growing the State’s Life Science Economy 

Round One Recommended Awardees Here

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the first round of awardees of the $40 million New York State Biodefense Commercialization Fund. The program was created to accelerate the development and commercialization of life science innovations that address serious infectious disease threats including COVID-19 and its variants, while also creating jobs and encouraging continued growth across New York’s expanding life science industry. Upon board approval by Empire State Development, eighteen grants will be awarded for a total grant commitment of $15,292,418. 

“New York State was hit first and hit hardest by COVID-19, and even as New York continues its progress in combatting this virus and building back stronger, we’re taking measures to ensure we’re prepared for the future,” Governor Hochul said. “These grants help promote the growth of New York State’s visionary life science companies, while also increasing our preparedness against current and future infectious disease threats, helping create a safer, stronger Empire State for years to come.”

New York State Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-designate Hope Knight said, “Supporting innovative companies focused on COVID-19 and other infectious diseases through the State’s Life Science Initiative has demonstrated that New York State is addressing global health concerns while delivering on its goal of economic development and growing the life science ecosystem.” 

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, “The New York State Biodefense Commercialization Fund is an innovative program that will advance New York’s infection disease capabilities and grow the life sciences sector simultaneously. Investing in research and private sector efforts to fight infectious diseases—including COVID-19 and new variants—will further strengthen our public health apparatus and make us better prepared for the future.”

Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City said, “New York State’s life sciences industry is an increasingly important contributor to our leadership in the global innovation economy. The public investment in research and its commercialization will be multiplied many times over by the private funding and economic activity that it generates.” 

Startup companies developing promising diagnostics, vaccines, therapeutics, and other innovations to prevent, treat or mitigate serious infectious disease threats were invited to apply for grants of up to $4 million. New York’s academic research institutions also were able to apply for grants of up to $500,000 to help fast track advanced intellectual property in life sciences. 

Financial support is not the only way the fund will help accelerate commercialization efforts. More than 40 mentors with deep expertise in entrepreneurship and in biopharmaceutical development and commercialization have been recruited by the fund to assist grantees in advancing their technologies toward commercialization. This customized guidance will be invaluable in facilitating a successful path forward for both innovation development and company growth. 

As a result of this application round, grants are being recommended for eight startup companies and 10 academic institutions. These grants would help bring to market infectious disease solutions, including diagnostics, therapeutics and other innovations that address or mitigate the spread of serious infectious diseases. A total of 177 applications were received; 104 were from startup companies and 73 from academic institutions.  

The awarded projects are diverse in terms of their geographic location and focus. The eight startup companies, awarded a total of $11,115,659, strongly support the State’s economic development efforts of leveraging its programs toward company and job creation/retention and unlocking additional capital. For example, awards to startups would leverage existing grant and investment funds totaling $61.4 million. In addition, companies awarded a Biodefense Commercialization Fund grant must commit to remaining in New York State and continuously conduct business for a minimum of three years following completion of the grant.

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 includes $320 million for strategic programs that attract new life science technologies to the state, promote critical public and private sector investment emerging life science fields and create and expand life science-related businesses and employment throughout New York. 

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 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.

About Empire State Development
Empire State Development (ESD) is New York’s chief economic development agency. The mission of ESD is to promote a vigorous and growing economy, encourage the creation of new job and economic opportunities, increase revenues to the State and its municipalities, and achieve stable and diversified local economies. Using loans, grants, tax credits and other forms of financial assistance, ESD strives to enhance private business investment and growth to spur job creation and support prosperous communities across New York State. ESD is also the primary administrative agency overseeing the New York State Regional Economic Development Councils and the marketing of “I LOVE NY,” the State’s iconic tourism brand. For more information on Regional Councils and Empire State Development, visit and

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