The Bioscience Industry Continues to Grow in Westchester

Across the county, life-science businesses that put down roots in Westchester are thriving — and making waves nationally.

From advancements in cancer therapy to detecting cardiac issues with Artificial Intelligence, Westchester has emerged as the mecca of life sciences in New York State. Innovative companies are both opening and relocating their headquarters to the area, with the county now responsible for at least 20% of New York State’s life-sciences jobs.

The roots of this bustling biotech arena can be traced back to the early 1900s, when the county bought the Grasslands Reservation in Valhalla — now home to New York Medical College — from the Hammond family in 1915. Westchester County allowed the U.S. Army to treat soldiers recovering from World War I wounds and the influenza outbreak at the early hospital grounds.

Barry Kappel, Ph.D., M.B.A., Founder, President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Sapience Therapeutics
Barry Kappel, Ph.D., M.B.A., Founder, President, Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Sapience Therapeutics

The Need for Space

In the century since, more than 200 bioscience companies have settled in the area. The allure of setting up shop just north of New York City is thanks, in part, to the amount of space that Westchester offers for unique types of research and development.

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“In New York City, you have narrow buildings, and most of the laboratory space is in the basement,” says Eric Feinstein, president and CEO of Clarapath Pathology, a Hawthorne-based company advancing the way tissue is examined in biopsies. “We’re a precision manufacturing business combined with a laboratory, so it’s a unique combination that requires a certain amount of space.”

Using a good portion of space in the Eastview area of Greenburgh adjacent to the Tarrytown Lakes is the pharmaceutical giant Regeneron, whose campus is in the process of a 724,000-square-foot expansion.

The company, which explores a range of research — from genome sequencing to immuno-oncology drugs — is home to the Regeneron Genetics Center (RGC). The Center boasts some of the most advanced technology in the country for sequencing, allowing researchers to study tens of millions of genomes in a single tissue to identify new treatment efforts and invent life-transforming medicines for disease.

Bus tour participants
Bus tour participants

Entrepreneurship and Continued Growth

But the verdant hills and open space aren’t the only incentives for new companies looking to park their HQ’s in Westchester. The Westchester County Biosciences Accelerator program (WCBA) is actively maintaining the county’s reputation as a hub for life sciences innovation through its six-month entrepreneurship education intensive for scientists, engineers, and inventors.

The highly competitive accelerator, started in 2020, offers business training and helps new companies with sales, marketing, and strategy. The 30 alumni who have graduated since the program’s inception have raised more than $17 million for their startups.

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From left: Deborah Novick, Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Westchester County; Dr. Rajiv Ratan, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and Burke Neurological Institute; Bridget Gibbons, Westchester County Director of Economic Development
From left: Deborah Novick, Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Westchester County; Dr. Rajiv Ratan, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and Burke Neurological Institute; Bridget Gibbons, Westchester County Director of Economic Development

Similarly, BioInc, an extension of New York Medical College, offers turnkey wet labs, dry labs, private offices, and conference rooms specifically designed to support early-stage companies and high-potential entrepreneurs within the biotech and medtech sectors. BioInc’s campus occupies more than 15,000 square feet and currently incubates six startup companies.

Why Westchester?

For Clarapath, its Hawthorne headquarters represents more than just a ripe area for development.

“It’s the central spot for us,” says Feinstein. “Most of our employees are in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area. Finding a middle ground for all of them — New Jersey has chemistry; Connecticut and Upstate New York have manufacturing; Manhattan has tech talent — and putting them all in one location has allowed us to create a melting pot.”

Feinstein’s diverse team of engineers democratized the biopsy process and uses robotics to improve and automate laboratory processes that study disease pathology. Amid a shortage of histotechnologists — a medical team member that examines plant and animal tissue for disease — Clarapath’s goal is to reduce the chances of misdiagnosis and lower laboratory costs.

Just next door to Clarapath on Skyline Drive is Leviant, a company aiming to create safe and sustainable indoor disinfection with ultraviolet light. Initially focused on hospitals and healthcare sites, the company is expanding its UV solutions to other areas to help improve the environment.

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“We’re trying to move the entire industry away from using inorganic chemicals [for disinfection],” says David Eigen, Leviant’s CEO.

“It’s the central spot for us. Most of our employees are in the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut area. Finding a middle ground for all of them and putting them all in one location has allowed us to create a melting pot.”
–Eric Feinstein, President and CEO, Clarapath Pathology

Like his neighbor, Eigen views the company’s Hawthorne hub as the most employee-friendly place for its diverse background of workers.

“We have employees from White Plains, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York City that commute out here, and it’s fairly easy for them. That was important,” he says, referring to the decision to settle in Westchester. “It was either Stamford or here, and we chose here. Finding talent here has not been a problem at all.”

Related: The Life Sciences Industry Is Rapidly Expanding in Westchester

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