NYC Starts $50M Fund to Boost Nonprofit Science Innovators

The city wants to capture a slice of the scientific zeitgeist, and also create thousands of jobs


New York City is injecting $50 million in capital funding to nonprofit incubators in life sciences, technology spaces and the green economy, the city announced Tuesday.

The New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC) is seeking proposals for awards of at least $3 million to build out space for projects at a single site to tackle the biggest scientific questions of the day: climate change, artificial intelligence and new cancer therapies. Details were included in the city’s request for proposals released Tuesday.

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The “Greenlight Innovation Fund” is Mayor Eric Adams’s latest attempt to make good on his promise to build a “new” New York, a policy agenda backed by Gov. Kathy Hochul that aims to kick-start the city’s economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Adams described the $50 million Greenlight fund as the “foundation for a new chapter of innovation in our city.”

“With a focus on sectors such as life sciences and the green economy, this new fund will build on investments we’ve already made in forward-looking areas of our economy to create new pipelines and opportunities for New Yorkers,” Adams said in prepared statements.

More than 100,000 New Yorkers are currently employed by companies in the green economy and the numbers are growing rapidly, according to the EDC. There are new life sciences developments cropping up in Kips Bay and Manhattan’s West Side, not to mention what the EDC dubbed Brooklyn’s “innovation coast” stretching from the Navy Yard to Sunset Park.

The life sciences sector has grown 87 percent since 2012, according to the EDC. It has outpaced the 61 percent overall growth of the city’s gross domestic product during that time.

EDC Chief Strategy Officer Cecilia Kushner told Commercial Observer that the organization has had its eye on the intersection of biology, tech and medical science since long before the pandemic, and it hopes the fund will help it flourish. 

“These are sectors that we know are going to be growing tremendously over the next decade, and that offer a wide range of jobs for New Yorkers that would allow someone to be able to enter them with a minimum amount of education up to a Ph.D,” Kushner said.

She said EDC is interested in proposals for facilities in existing science and tech hubs as well as in areas of the city farther afield from the current hubs.

“People tend to want to congregate where there’s enough of a critical mass, and certainly all of these industries have interest in co-locating with other institutions,” Kushner said. “For life science, they want to be close to big universities where the research is happening.”

The EDC will accept proposals for the Greenlight fund in three rounds, with submission deadlines of April 12, 2024; Oct. 2, 2024;  and April 4, 2025. 

Abigail Nehring can be reached at