The Battle for the “Third Coast” in 2017. Comparing Emerging Life Science Hubs in NYC and Toronto

2 Mar

By James Huang, Research Analyst, LSN

Claire Jeong, Research Analyst, LSN


While new biotech breakthroughs are made all over the world, it’s generally held that the biotech world has two major hubs – California and Massachusetts.  When it comes to other cities, the question is often about which of the many emerging life science hubs will become biotech’s “Third Coast”.

For this article, LSN has put together a table comparing two of the challengers; Toronto on the coast of Lake Ontario, and NYC on the Mid-Atlantic Coast.

Toronto New York City
Research institutions Toronto’s Discovery District is said to be “the densest geographical center for research in the world”.  Home to top universities including University of Toronto, York University and Ryerson University, and medical centers such as University Health Network’s five medical research institutions. NYC is home to many major universities and medical research institutions, including Columbia University, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Cornell University/Weill Cornell Medical College, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University, Mount Sinai Medical Center, and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory


Pharma presence 50 global pharma firms have a Toronto HQ.  Toronto is at the center of the “Ontario-Quebec life science corridor,” with access to the many pharma companies that have operations in Montreal.


Celgene, Cellectis, Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and Roche have research centers in NYC.  Additionally, NYC benefits from proximity to the New Jersey pharma hub.
Local investors The LSN Investor Platform tracks 61 life science investors based in Canada. The LSN Investor Platform tracks 184 life science investors based in NY.
Government support $30 million Life Sciences Seed Venture Capital Fund. Additional government support includes SR&ED (Scientific Research and Experimental Development) tax credits, and a strong set of framework policies, including intellectual property changes through the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) The NYC Life Sciences Fund will deploy a minimum of $150 million and seeks to launch 15 to 20 breakthrough ventures by 2020. Additionally, NYC has allocated $100 million to create a biotech hub, and $300M in tax incentives.


Startup companies The LSN Company Platform tracks 71 biotech and 177 medtech startups in Ontario. The LSN Company Platform tracks 98 biotech and 40 medtech startups in New York State.


Both cities are putting their resources and local strengths to work to build a life science hub around their strong research bases; NYC has many well-known top tier institutions, and the University of Toronto produces more peer-reviewed publications than any other medical center in the world.  Each has different challenges; in NYC, it may be harder to spin out a new company due to real estate costs.  Meanwhile Toronto has fewer local investors than NYC; however the city is drawing in global capital with new initiatives such as RESI Toronto and the Toronto Health Innovation Week.

We’re very excited to include both cities in RESI’s annual circuit (with our first RESI NYC coming up in November), and it will be interesting to watch the two cities develop while playing to their local strengths.

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